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Customer Service – The Power of a Social Media Campaign

Today, I’d like to share a personal anecdote which really drove home the importance of Twitter as a marketing and customer relations tool. This time, rather than writing from the perspective of an online marketer, I have a story about how valuable the platform is if you’re a dissatisfied customer. Don’t worry – it’s also relevant to your business’s social media campaign, and I’ll soon explain why.

Customer Service 101 – Don’t Ignore People

To cut a long story short, I qualified for a rebate from my Internet provider which never came. I began calling regularly. Each month for 3 months when I received my bill, I called and asked why the rebate had not been applied. Every time, the customer service agent on the other end apologised and promised that it would apply to my next bill. It became evident that phone calls were not working, so I then used the online complaints system. After two weeks, I had no reply to my complaint – not even an acknowledgement that it had been received. A quick check of the Ofcom site said that I should write a letter before complaining to the ombudsman, but I had a better idea. I wondered whether tweeting the Virgin Media team would garner results.

social media campaign

As you can probably tell, I was a little frustrated when I wrote this.

 

Lo and behold, in just a few hours I had a response! I gave them the information they requested and the next day, they actually called me. The issue has now been resolved.

Why Twitter Worked For Me, and How It Can Work For You

The whole point of Twitter is that anybody can communicate with anybody else, on an equal footing, and in public. In my case, this was a negative for Virgin Media – anybody viewing their profile would see my indignant message and could leave with a negative impression of the company. However, clever social media management can turn PR disasters into real victories.

I’m very fond of an example provided by O2 during the summer of 2012. Due to a widespread crash in phone coverage, O2’s social media team were fielding hundreds of tweets from customers. These messages were varied – some upset and disappointed, some angry, and some plain abusive. The O2 team enjoyed a massive popularity boost by turning the situation to their advantage. Rather than offering a stilted apology and ignoring their detractors, the team took time to reply, sometimes in a very humorous manner. Their replies were so well-liked that they were retweeted on a massive scale. Public opinion had swung and was now on their side. Wired has a good summary, including examples, here.

My point is that whether you’re a consumer or a business, Twitter can provide a helping hand. Communication goes both ways. With intelligent usage, it is possible to use the platform to gain more traffic and, importantly, more loyalty from customers.

Google Social Media Marketing: The Power of Plus

Ask any SEO professional what the most exciting current social platform is and you’ll receive only one answer. The relatively new Google social media site, known as Plus, can be a great way to integrate the search engine optimisation and social media marketing that your business is engaged in. There are a few different ways to approach this.

Hang on – what’s the big deal with Plus anyway?

The key reason why Plus is so important is that it belongs to Google. Google has access to all the information stored on Plus – it can see who’s a member, what they’re talking about, which sites they own, whose content they are sharing, and so on. A great deal of this data is helpful for the company’s algorithms when they are trying to calculate search rankings.

The potential to gather this information from other platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, is comparatively limited. That’s not to say that those sites aren’t important, or that they have no SEO impact. However, it does mean that if you’re focussing solely on the SEO benefits, and have to pick just one social media site, it should be Plus.

Google Plus Optimisation

Authorship

google authorship social media

An example of the way in which authorship is displayed in search results

Authorship is a simple mechanism which is used by Google to, you guessed it, determine the author of a piece of content. The process of enabling authorship consists of two steps – firstly, special code must be added to the content, and then the author must link back to the site from a particular area of the Plus profile.

Giving authorship credit to a content producer could help in either of two ways. Primarily, it lets Google know that a site is being run by real people. It can also help to build your authority as an author. It’s widely believed that Google is going to start calculating search rankings by looking at the author rather than just the content, so this is a great way to get in ahead of the changes.

+1s

google+ social media optimisation

It’s no secret that social media signals are taken into account by search engines. As touched upon above, it’s likely that signals broadcast via Google’s own platform will be heavily weighted. When real Plus users endorse your content, especially if they are authorities in your niche, you can be pretty sure that your rankings will improve. Additionally, it’s worth pointing out that sharing your content via Plus will mean that more people are exposed to it, driving traffic to your site.

So how can you get +1s for your content? Well, you could go to any one of hundreds of cheap overseas providers who offer to deliver dozens or even hundreds of +1s for the princely sum of $5. However, we know that fake +1s can have a negative effect on your rankings, so it’s probably best to steer clear of the quick fix.

The best way to attract +1s is to make sure that all of your content is easily shareable. Google themselves provide all the code necessary to insert +1 buttons into your pages. If you’re running a WordPress site, there are also numerous plugins that you can easily install to help you achieve the same aim.

Leave it to Us

At I Say! Digital, we always take advantage of Plus when planning social media or SEO strategies. It’s one of many tools in our box and we’re constantly updating our practices as the landscape evolves. Contact us if you’re interested in learning how we would approach your online marketing.

How To Do Your Own Inbound Marketing

Along with SEO, inbound marketing is one of the big buzzwords in marketing this year. As Google tightens up its algorithms to prevent manipulation and spam, more and more businesses are turning to inbound marketing to help them generate revenue and get found by the customers who are looking to spend.


In this article, we’ll look at the basics of inbound marketing and define some DIY techniques you can use to create your own campaign today.

What is Inbound?

Marketing techniques can be split into two camps: outbound and inbound. Basically, inbound marketing can be summarised as non-intrusive; unlike outbound marketing, you don’t need to display a huge banner or use a megaphone to get noticed.
Inbound marketing is becoming increasingly popular because of its links with SEO, lower costs and opportunity for creative and dynamic elements. It’s thought of as modern when compared to outbound, although both have their place.

How Do I Get Started?

Here’s a simple summary plan of your first steps in inbound marketing.

Sort Your SEO

Perhaps the most important building block for a good inbound marketing campaign is a well optimised website. It doesn’t just help with search engine positioning. It’ll also make your website contents easier to find, so it’ll complement everything else you do.

Build a Blog

Everyone knows regular content is the key to satisfying the search engines. It’ll also help you build authority in your niche. You can try publishing blogs via social media, posting guest blogs rich with unique content, or even creating videos. Whatever you do, make sure your content offers something really interesting – and publish frequently.

Market With Mail

Mailing lists have a bad reputation thanks to spammy outbound marketing techniques, but an email list is still a very valuable tool. Don’t be scared of inviting people to sign up so that you can build a valuable list of interested leads. Then, offer your email list subscribers value in the form of a discount, some unique content or valuable extras and freebies.

Improve Authority

Once you’ve established your campaign, get your brand name (or your own name) noticed. Write a book; ebooks are great providing you’re willing to give them away for free, but a print book is even better. Build a healthy Google+ profile, spend time networking on LinkedIn and snap up opportunities to get your name and face known. Even if you’re not directly promoting your business, the fact that you’re visible means people are developing a connection with you from afar.

Making the Switch to Inbound

For several years, we’ve been told that advertising is the key to marketing online. It’ll take some time for that to be reversed. The sooner you adopt inbound marketing methods and embrace them, the further ahead you’ll be when your competitors catch on.
The key to developing your inbound marketing campaign is to look for customers and help them to find you – don’t force your message in front of them. Before you know it, you’ll be generating sales leads at a fraction of the price you paid before.

Featured images:

Sam Wright is a journalist working with Brand Republic.

Guest Post: How To Use Guest Blogs In Your Marketing Campaigns

Marketing jobs have changed over the last couple of years. Content strategy is a key consideration for all websites, and marketers have had to hit the ground running and develop new skills to keep up with the ever-evolving world of SEO.

guest blogging
One way to improve your marketing campaigns is to enlist the help of a guest blogger. In fact, guest blogs have become a core part of many large organisations’ content marketing projects, and thousands of agencies now work with freelance writers that provide guest blogs in any given niche.

In this article, we’ll look at how guest blogging could help you in your job as a marketer, and how the risks of guest blogging can be avoided.

What is Guest Blogging?

Guest blogging is the process of supplying top quality content to other blogs on the web. In return for the content, that blog will post a link back to your website.
No marketing specialist would recommend using guest blogging as a standalone project; it has to be integrated with a wider marketing campaign, and it has to be used in an organic way – never forced, never contrived and never as part of a spammy link swap.

Benefits of Guest Blogging

Earning backlinks is great, but there are other benefits associated with guest blogging that will benefit your marketing campaign too. These could include:

  • Brand awareness across the web
  • New-found authority on a certain subject
  • Building trust between consumers and the brand
  • Associating the brand with quality information that nobody else can offer
  • Promoting good vibes about the campaign through contests, promotions and other complementary initiatives

As you can see, guest blogging isn’t just about links: it can benefit the brand on lots of levels. Being sensitive to a more holistic approach will serve you well in any marketing job.

Risks of Guest Blogging

Google will continue to crack down on any marketing tactic that it feels is spammy or unnatural. That should always be at the back of your mind when you develop a guest blogging strategy. While the vast majority of guest blogs are of a high standard, there’s still a tendency for some guest bloggers to supply poor content. Quality costs more, but don’t compromise: if you do, it will be a detriment to your marketing plan since it’ll eventually lead to a penalty.
There are a few golden rules that will help you rise above poor quality guest blogs:

  • Keep the quality high. Don’t give away any content that you wouldn’t publish yourself.
  • Invest. Don’t cut corners by employing sub-standard writers. Go for the best writer you can afford. Cheaper is not better in guest blogging.
  • Consider your audience. Is the guest blog going to reach the right people, attract shares and promote authority? If not, you’re not working with the right blog publishers.
  • Are you trying to hit a target or fulfil a quota? Don’t. If it’s not natural, ditch it and start again.

But despite the risks, don’t shy away from guest blogging. In its purest and most genuine form, it’s a valuable tool for marketers. It offers benefits to blogger and publisher, it builds important networks and it provides Google with quality information and original thought on a given topic (which is what it really wants).
By far the most important outcome is the feedback you get from your analytics package. Be sure to track and measure each guest blog you put out there; learn what works, replicate your best efforts and ditch any tactics that aren’t working.

Sam Wright is a writer working with Brand Republic, a website listing hundreds of marketing jobs.