Hashtags: Why and How businesses should use them?

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Hashtags have become a noticeable part of the online world and as of late, more and more social media sites have allowed for the categorizing program known as Hashtags. Hashtags are used to allow users to tag posts, pictures, or even video with a hash symbol (#) followed by a word or phrase, such as #SocialMedia #IT #Cloud #video #infographic etc. Doing this allows the program to categorize anything posted with that Hashtag; this makes it simpler to search for related posts. The implications of this program have not yet been fully realized by the business community. The ability to tag and search using Hashtags can be utilized in all the arenas of the business community.

Why should today’s business community use Hashtags?

A survey from San francisco based ad platform RadiumOne, which polled 500 participants, found:

  • 58 percent of respondents utilize hashtags on a regular basis, and 71 percent of regular hashtag users do so from their mobile devices
  • 43 percent of respondents think hashtags are useful and 34% use them to search/follow categories and brands of personal interest
  • 51 percent of respondents would share hashtags more often if they knew advertisers awarded discounts for sharing product based hashtags
  • 41 percent of respondents use hashtags to communicate personal ideas and feelings

How should today’s business community use the hashtag?

#Promotion
A survey done by Radium one found that 51% of those who responded to the survey said that they would be more willing to share company hashtags if they were awarded discounts or chances at prizes if they were to do so. This is especially powerful for small businesses since launching a campaign needs only good ideas. It is indeed simple effective promotion for small businesses. Not only can you give discounts, and therefore bring in more customers, but this allows you to track promotions activity online.

#Targeting #Customers
Hashtags make it simpler to reach relevant customers. Marketing tools allow brands to advertise based on hashtags. For instance, Twitter lets advertisers target ads by category or interest. Internet surfers who use hashtags are likely to engaging in the social conversation and share their experiences with a brand.

#Conversation
Sometimes it is important to see what the marketplace is saying about a product or brand. According to the RadiumOne survey, 43 percent of respondents think hashtags are useful and 34% use them to search brands of interest.
Hashtags open up the social media world to better converse about your company. A website or a URL post only brings you to the company’s website while a Hashtag allows people to use it in everyday conversations they have on social media. This also allows you to track the conversation and get a better idea of what is being said and how you can utilize that information.

#Combined #Campaigns
Tools like Tagboard now allow you to track a hashtag across all the major social networks. Promote products and engage with customers across all platforms without having to create special campaigns for each. Since the hashtag can be the brand or the product.

#Innovations
Like every new thing, there is immense innovation opportunities are inherited in Hashtags. While hashtags and their use in business have begun to be utilized there are still endless possibilities to what can be done with them. The success of this new bliss is possible because of its simplicity and possible creative ways to use them. They are as easy to produce as campaigns are to incorporate them. For instance American Express recently launched Amex Sync, which lets cardholders make purchases by using hashtags.

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From Business Leader to Thought Leader

ImageWhen you think of a thought leader as someone recognised as an authority on explicit topics, it is easy to comprehend why so many business people want to be one. Being positioned as the expert in your industry can have great values as well as responsibilities for your career and on your business’s bottom line.

Can everyone be a thought leader?
Although most business leaders could become thought leaders, however in order to be a successful one some hard work is needed. For some the required characteristics may come naturally, and for some conscious practice is needed. Here are three characteristics a potential thought leader should have:

1. Be an expert
Being an expert in your industry or profession is an essential factor to being recognised as a thought leader. You must have great knowledge and understanding of your topics of expertise. Most business leaders will be able to answer this requirement.

2. Be open to sharing your expertise
In addition to having the knowledge and understanding, a thought leader must be prepared to share this expertise openly and have original ideas, distinct points of view and new insights.

3. Be willing to stand out
Thought leaders must also be open to being seen and heard publicly in the media, social media and at events. An approachable personality will definitely benefit you.

If you feel you have the qualities and experience needed to position yourself as a thought leader, then consider the following PR strategies to help you reach the recognition you deserve.

Become the expert the media wants to hear from
The media is always on the lookout for a great story supported by expert thoughts and intelligence. You may want to spend quality time with your communication and PR team and come up with a list of topics for which you should be positioned as an expert available for comments. They may point you to the right people / interactions.  

Treat media interviews as a priority by making yourself available. Also, undertake media training so you can deliver powerful interviews that will make the journalist’s job easier and create the impression you need in order to receive future calls for commentary.

Your communication team should also use all opportunities to offer topical, objective, easy to understand and helpful articles with your byline. These articles can relate to an important issue in your industry, your unique journey as a company director, your thoughts as a leader, or helpful tips and advice related to your expertise.

Write a business blog
Business blogs are a great way to share your expert knowledge and position yourself as a thought leader in your field. The key is to pick a topic and stick to it. As with media opportunities, your PR team should help you write regular blog posts that will spark discussion and share your experiences, ideas and relevant information.

You can also be positioned as a guest blogger on other relevant websites to increase your exposure and build traffic to your own business blog.

Network on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the professional social media platform that allows leading companies to connect with experts, clients and industry colleagues around the world. LinkedIn can also help you increase your visibility and position yourself.

One way of doing so is by ensuring that regular updates related to your field of expertise are made on your profile. You should also find groups in your industry and your clients’ industries, and join relevant and engaging discussions.

Engage on Twitter
Twitter can be a great avenue to demonstrate your expertise and gain a following of people interested in hearing what you have to say. To build your followers naturally, share links to helpful or insightful articles related to your expertise (this includes your own articles and blogs, but also those from other sources), cross-promote your LinkedIn discussions, follow people in your industry and target markets and interact with them.

Most importantly, before you start engaging on social media, consult your PR team to find out more about your organisation’s communication and/or social media guidelines.

Speak at events
Public speaking is an excellent way to position yourself as an authority on a particular topic or industry, while gaining endorsement from the event’s organisers.

Your presentation should be informative and interesting, and be adapted to suit your audience. For example, avoid using technical language when your audience has no knowledge of your topic. As for media training, if you’re not a confident public speaker, get some coaching beforehand to ensure you make the most of each opportunity.

The key to becoming a thought leader is to be open to positioning your expertise in the limelight in every possible way.

The Collaborative Marketing Future – How co-creation and activism will make companies win!

baker_logo-2Just ten years ago, Facebook did not exist. Communication was primarily one-to-one, and marketers focused almost exclusively on mass communication to a mass audience. The last decade saw swift change and technological growth that marketers are just beginning to put into the right angel; not only change in communications, but in empowerment, permitting consumers to influence and take co-ownership of brands.

The conjoint theme across all of this change is an evolution towards alliances, relationships, partnership and Collaboration. The future of marketing is a future where brands must market “with” consumers, not “at” them, thinking advantageously about inviting consumers into the marketing process. The days of tossing products and services on customers are way behind us. Today’s customer is educated, conversant and equipped hence demands an alliance and not dismisses the isolation.

A Collaborative Marketing Future is not in “work in progress” mode. It’s a reality already set in motion, one that is consistent with consumers’ innate tendencies to share and contribute. It’s a future where the companies that are closest to the buyers, use and advocate for their products win.

What is Collaborative Marketing?

Web definition A broad term used to describe a wide variety of partnerships — retailer and product manufacturer, product manufacturer and product.

One of the first definitions of “collaborative marketing” was developed by top management consultant and author of The Power of Pull, John Hagel.

In 2006, he described the major shifts in business moving:

FROM CONVENTIONAL MARKETING BUILT UPON THREE “I’S” TO “COLLABORATION MARKETING” DEFINED IN TERMS OF THREE “A’S”

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The evolution of marketing towards collaboration

The first ever recorded advertisement was placed in a Boston newspaper in 1704. For the earlier 300 years, the formula was bumpily the same – mass marketing messages to mass audiences. This was the main means through which consumers discovered new products and services. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Internet, and more recently transmuted social technologies, began to change the primary fundamentals of how companies market their products.

In 2006, Facebook opened its doors beyond teen agers and college goings, and the next year Twitter’s growth exploded. The arrival of social technologies brought about a new era of real-time communication where anyone could share anything with the rest of the world.  This began what we have termed the first stage of social marketing, Social Listening. Marketers were able to listen in consumers’ conversations about their products for the first time with great ease. This definitely opened up the market for social listening tools market.

In 2008, Facebook launched the brand page and pressed a tournament for marketers to gain more and more fans. In turn, the second phase of social marketing was launched: Social Management. Many Platforms emerged to help brands acquire and manage these fans, perform and utilise social listening and data.

Marketers built large social databases, and the challenge became how to best leverage social communities to drive real, bottom-line value. These platforms help companies to convert the gold mine of data into valuable information.

Now, we are entering the third phase, Collaborative Marketing. The need of the hour for the companies is to market with, not at, their most loyal customers. By providing these consumers with a special seat at the table with their favourite brands, consumers will generate an endless supply of penetration, ideas, acumen and content on the brands’ behalf. Perhaps even more importantly, these customers will serve as an essential broadcasting channel for delivering a brand’s message to relevant audiences. Customers are the new brand ambassadors now, rather the most and only accepted ones.

LinkedIn is 10 today!

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It looks like yesterday when I was in complete annoyance about updating each minute detail of  my academics, career and professional journey on LinkedIn. To be honest, it all started in a moment of desperation while finding a new job assignment. I was not leaving any stone unturned and untouched so stumbled upon LinkedIn as well.

Today my morning tablet surfing and coffee made me gather that my emotional shift journey for LinkedIn. Feelings graduated from annoyance to love with an ease. A decade ago, really!

Do I really need to mention that its biggest and busiest business networking site on the internet.  LinkedIn has 200 million members worldwide and the network is growing by two members per second or 10-15 million members per quarter.

I have a ‘love and hate’ kind of relationship with numbers. (I like them when they make achievement look like one. I just start hating when they make a problem look bigger than its solution.) Today I am happy to share numbers for sure.

At present, over 2.8 million businesses have a LinkedIn Company Page. The popularity and global approach is evident from the fact that the website is available in 19 languages: Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, Čeština, Dansk, Deutsch, English, Español, Français, 한국어, Italiano, Dutch, 日本语, Norsk, Polski, Português, Română, Русский, Svenska, Türkçe.

LinkedIn and its users did evolve gradually and both helped each other in tremendous ways. It has been a journey for both.

As a LinkedIn admirer, I want to raise a toast for LinkedIn and its users in my way. How about a quick 10 Things To Do LinkedIn List?

  1. Allocate and adhere to your LinkedIn time for each workday
  2. Stay up-to-date about your industry
  3. Stay in the know of your department and business development of your own and competitor’s business development
  4. Keep your LinkedIn inbox clean (not by deleting, by appropriate responses)
  5. Respond to professional requests in hours or days but never in weeks – Delayed response is as rude as no response
  6. Stay conversant with the groups you join
  7. Recognise people for their good work – Recommendations is a key – give and get recommendations, and now with the new feature of Skills endorsements, it’s another quick way to endorse your co-workers and old colleagues
  8. Stay conversant with your own company page, do value add whenever possible
  9. Be status active – Scan the status updates of your connections and nurture relationships
  10. Check your profile often – Would you follow you?

The list can go longer, leaving some room for my readers to add.

I am sure like me, for all you LinkedIn graduated from an annoyance as the moment you updated your details, to an essential business tool. I look at it as an authenticate business card today.

So on this note and toast wishing happy birthday to LinkedIn.

Stay connected!
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/diptibsocialmediastrategist

What is the precise thing that drive behaviour which matters?

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“If marketers are not generating emotions and feelings, we are not taking advantage of the actual factor that drives any behaviour.

Branding is more than exciting a cerebral process of imaginative thought. It is about experiencing those thoughts as emotionally charged feelings that lead to the real actions.

Feelings are turned into stirring thoughts, which then become intentions, and finally results in the buying decision and the sale.

The goal of every marketing program should be to fill products with emotions so strong that customers become loyal not just to the brands but to the brand mission, infusing commitment and uniting people and marketers with common causes and mutual values.”

Practice brand building to appeal directly to a consumer’s emotional state, needs and aspirations leading to the nostalgic attachment to the brand, bonding with your goals and mission, and love for you. (Awwww!!!!) Wow factor is so yesterday, time to awww your customers.

Why is bad feedback a GOOD thing?

ImageWe all fancy a perfect cup of coffee to start our day. Expectations are high, especially when someone else is making it for us. So I was fair to get angry when my partner didn’t brew it perfect for me. Time for him to light a LAMP.

We can always improve. We’re normal people “The Mango People” and have absolutely no problems admitting we’re not perfect. While we always aim things to go right 100% of the time for every single customer, we do slip sometimes. Despite every effort and will, we do go wrong sometimes in the realistic world. What is most important in realistic world is learning from mistakes, correcting them and moving forward.
When you receive negative feedback from a customer, use the L.A.M.P. approach (This is just my personal term, it came up with my morning coffee)
Listen
Let’s give the customer our ears. What does this customer have to say? Why are they saying it? What happened during their experience to take it down a bad road.

Acknowledge and Apologize
We acknowledge that a bad situation happened and apologize for it. We own up to the mistake.

Make it Better
What can we do to turn this situation around? We give our time, free service and whatever else it takes to fix the problem. If we cannot fix it, we escalate issues to someone who can.

Push Improvement
After the dust clears from the bad experience and the customer has rode off happily into the twilight, we’re left with one question, “how can we make sure this doesn’t happen again?” We’ll improve our methods by learning from what went wrong.