Posts Tagged social media

Twitter – What business can we get from it?

Since the rise of social media, new rules have had to be ‘drawn up’ on etiquette and proper usage, especially when it comes to businesses.

It’s not just about the content you post, but also how you present your account, who you interact with, and how you interact with them. Even if you master all that, you then need to be able to ensure that not only is your account visible, but also feels like an integrated part of your company, rather than a marketing tool that’s been sewed on because ‘everyone else is doing it’.

With regards to your activity on Twitter, i.e. who to follow and engage in conversations with, consider these vital tips:

  • You need to follow customers, suppliers, peers, and competitors
  • Find key people in your industry and connect them to you network
  • Organise whom you follow and don’t follow everyone who follows you
  • Identify keywords as well as the experts in your industry. Search with search.twitter.com and search a key term.
  • Once you identify the right people, look at whom they are following and who is following them as your potential pool of people you can tap into.
  • Update your profile picture and twitter background to show your branding – tell people what you do, explain how you help, and show a little business personality
  • Twitter is so much more than a sales marketing tool – it’s also good for recruitment – follow and engage with your next potential key salesman.

Then it’s all about making sure Twitter feels like an organic, integrated part of your business. To do this, create a twitter-landing page and publicise your Twitter account by adding “Follow me on Twitter” into your professional communications.

To see how well you have integrated your brand name and to connect with more relevant people, search for your business name so you can engage with everyone that searches for you, and you can see first hand how visible you are, as well as responding to any negative comments out in the public domain if necessary.

However if you don’t have time to use Twitter daily, then set up an automated feed and send it to your Twitter account. Doing so populates your feed with fresh content when you don’t have time, and there are many 3rd party applications such as HootSuite and TweetDeck that can do this.

The use of 3rd party apps is vital to using Twitter successfully, in the same way that petrol is vital to run your car.

Above all, using Twitter successfully is all about honing in on the general tweets that are relevant to your area of interest, and then acting upon them. Think of it as the radio – when you turn on the radio you don’t fret about the 24 hours of broadcasting that you missed yesterday, you just focus on what’s playing now.

The same is true of Twitter – act upon what’s happening now.

This article was taken from a discussion of the Business Exposure Group.

If you are a Director or business owner and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions, please contact philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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SME’s are you adopting essential technologies into your business?

Upgrading computer software often entails considerable costs to small businesses which is why many owners put it off.

Although it can be tempting to kit out an office with the technology available in a large corporate office, business owners should be realistic in their requirements and base their decisions on priorities as well as the size of the business and its technological needs.

Traditionally, SMEs have been slow to adopt new technologies such as tablet and cloud computing because of a lack of funds and human resources. Legacy technologies still play an important role in information technology for SMEs. These are applications and databases that have been inherited from earlier  systems and serve critical business needs. Often the challenge is to keep the legacy system running while converting it to a newer and more efficient system.

Fax machines still perform a valuable function and are used daily in business – more so than smart phones at 38%.

Technological innovation is a key component to developing a successful and competitive business however many SMEs are still reluctant to embrace these changes, even if they help improve efficiency. Business use of the tablet currently stands at 1.4%, while laptop use is at 36% and smart phones at 16%.

Do you lose your competitive advantage with old technology?

Inadequate management of technology reduces business profitability. One in 10 businesses has been a victim of an IT incident in the past 12 months which resulted in business downtime.

Most businesses spend less than 10% of their IT budget on protecting their IT systems. Security should be a priority for all businesses looking to change or update their current IT systems. Software security should be bespoke and reflect your individual data risk.

British SMEs lag behind their European counterparts by showing a much weaker level of commitment to IT innovation.

Research shows 4% of UK businesses are using the cloud but do not understand what it is. SMEs often cannot afford large-scale expenditure on IT hardware which makes hosted solutions much more attractive as these can be paid for on the basis of use, and keep IT costs to a minimum.

Cloud computing – SaaS (software as a service) offers many benefits including:

–       Minimal risk (per month payment)

–       Opportunity to scale

–       Improved mobility

–       Enhance security

–       Constant updating

The average age of technological equipment in British SMEs is 2.2years. Businesses should look to technological partners who can supply them with the latest digital breakthroughs to stay innovative.

Technological innovation can help SMEs simplify key areas of their business – and greatly reduce cost. The advent of video conferencing and Skype has reduced the need to travel to meetings while Key Performance Indicators (KPI) software allows owners to identify and analyse business performance data.

Social media technology should also play a key role in today’s SMEs and be central to growth plans. Although the uptake of social media among SMEs has grown rapidly over the past decade, many businesses are still employing a chaotic and unmanaged approach to this medium.

Businesses need to have a social media strategy in place to utilise the benefits that sites such as Facebook and Twitter provide. This communication medium allows business to feed content free of charge into a highly-visible public arena and encourages readers to share it with their social network. A corporate message spreads from user to user and resonates because it appears to come from a trusted third party.

Technological advances are redefining the way we develop products and services and the way in which we market them and this has a direct impact on how SMEs generate income. Currently 9% of SMEs believe technology is helping them win business which means those who have yet to realise its significance are already losing out.

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Are you building business relationships using social media?

It’s a myth among web professionals that every organisation is capitalising on the benefits of social media. In fact, 94% of small business owners say they do not use it because their customers do not use it.

The advantages of using social media in business are well-documented but it needs to be done properly if it’s to have a positive effect as half-hearted attempts will achieve little.

To make social media work for your business you need to have a plan. If you do not have a strategy and time to manage social media, it’s a pointless exercise.

As a good starting point, it’s advisable to simply ‘lurk’ and monitor what other people are doing on the social media networks before trying to work out how it can help you.  Spend some time on either Linkedin, Twitter or facebook and get to understand how others are behaving.

This gives you specific marketing intelligence and allows you to understand how to play the different media.

You cannot set up a social media strategy and think customers will just arrive on your doorstep. You need to establish a two-way communication and ask your followers/customers for feedback, as well as respond to their questions.

Businesses need to be personable and build relationships with customers through social media. We need to be perceived as industry experts and when we do comment we need to provide relevant information.

Too many people have just jumped on the social media bandwagon because people are talking about it. It requires considerable work related to engagement and understanding about what you’re trying to achieve and how to send an appropriate message into the market.

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Discussion summary from our February events

This months meetings went really well.   The main issues across several discussion groups included:-

How to be good at time management. – The need to prioritise important tasks without emails taking you off track.
How to incentivise senior employees without giving them a share of your business.  – The advantages of an EMI scheme as opposed to a Long Term Incentive plan.
How and when to begin finding a replacement business partner in readiness for their retirement.
How to get bigger customers.
How to deal with an important member of staff who continually plays the system.
The merits of a full time financial controller, or an outsourced function, or a part time senior strategic financial director. – The pros and cons.

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Salary Reviews, Are you paying out too much?

We discussed the subject of salaries at a recent Business Exposure Group meeting and received some interesting feedback…
There were numerous responses from what was a very good cross-section of both traditional and service-led business owners.

Here are some of the comments…

“Salaries should match inflation”
“No salary increases, but bonuses would be better”
“We can’t give pay rises this year because of business uncertainty”
“I only give a wage increase if someone asks”
“Increases cannot be across the board, but we’ll look at specific individuals”
“The market is dictating a 10% increase”

Please let us know your opinion.What answers are you giving your staff at the moment?

How is that affecting your recruitment programme?

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Discussion summary from our January events

We now have 9 Business Exposure Group forums in Leeds, Wetherby, Manchester, Sheffield and Bradford.

This month’s January meeting went really well and the issues across several discussion groups included:-

  • How to make your business offering in 2011 stand out.
  • What techniques are we using to get past the” gatekeeper “and arrange meetings with new prospects.
  • How to offer discounts running alongside normal trading terms, without down- valuing your core business.
  • How to make your staff feel passionate about your customer service.
  • The value/cost of a pay per click campaign.
  • Business opportunities arising because of the recession and how to finance them.

The high value of the group advice was commented on by many of the members.

The dynamic within each of the groups is maturing well.

The next meeting of the Manchester Premier Business Forum will be on Tuesday 1st March at 1.30pm, at the Forsyth Centre, The Triangle. Exchange Square. Manchester.

Please let us know if you may be interested in being invited to one of our groups by emailing philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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