Sunday, 22 June 2014

Social Media Guru? :-)

N and his dad
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Well, it has been a busy week! On Tuesday night we took the dads out for a meal - to avoid the Father's Day crowds at weekend.

We chose Harecastle Farm as my dad hadn't been there since it became a Miller and Carter steakhouse.

My mum and dad

It was up to its usual great standard. The food is superb and we love the little extras like their amazing onion loaf and the wedge of iceberg you get with a choice of sauces. I think the dads enjoyed it! They went for the classic steaks and the mums both went for the lamb.

 I had a little fillet steak  - which was cooked just how I like it - still a touch of pink in the middle - but not too much!

Of course - with the mums being there too - we had to have desserts! I know I had the banoffee pie and sampled some chocolate brownie and lemon meringue roulade too.
The Lancashire Crew :-)

It is amazing  how both sets of parents come from Lancashire - and actually grew up and lived just a few miles apart! How come they never met before?? They are all similar ages too - so they always have lots to talk about (I think it's called reminiscing!! :-)

I had to be up early next morning to catch a train to Birmingham for a seminar that started at 8.30am! . With my Jigsaw School Apps hat on I went to the Birmingham Chambers of Commerce for "Using Social Media Effectively in Business" - a seminar they were running for both members and non-members. It was a chance to learn from the best - they had some award winners to tell us how they do it - and to network with other participants.

The first speaker was Dave Cooper, the marketing director from Solihull College. He told us how he moved the college from using predominantly expensive glossy and heavy college prospectuses to more digital and online content. This was after research into how the various age groups that they cater for find their information. Like he said if someone is only interested in doing hairdressing - why would they want to wade through a massive tome full of engineering, child care, sport and other irrelevant subjects?

He had fun with a teaser campaign on bus shelters saying "Watch this space!" lots of Facebook - with their Boost facility and an interactive digital prospectus - with smaller ones on Z-Cards - which are cheaper and easier to update. He got their message out there much more effectively - for less money!

Then we heard from some professionals - N C Creative Group  - also from Solihull - who manage social media accounts for companies big and small. Swedish-born Asa and David explained how, used correctly, social media is a marketers dream! Asa told us that 71% of people online are on Facebook and that Forbes magazine has predicted that 2014 is the year that social media becomes a business necessity - not an optional extra! She gave us some tips such as make sure everything you put on social media is checked carefully - it is a public domain and there are legal implications as with any kind of publishing. You have to spend a lot of time on it too - make sure that you post regularly. Also make sure that you reply to all comments good or bad. Especially the bad - you need to resolve any problems mentioned - quietly and offline if you think it could turn into a dispute. Never have your arguments  in public and always remain polite and respectful.!

Then David took us through one campaign they had done with one of their customers- Volvo trucks. They made a video - featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme - called The Epic Split - click on the link if you haven't seen it before it is amazing!!

They launched it on YouTube and in the first week they sent 470 social media message - through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest. (Did you know that YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google? ) So they used all this social media to create an internet "buzz" - so there would be social discussion and press coverage   They sent out these messages at weekends and during the night too. They started receiving loads of positive comments - some from Sky news and Paddy Power were taking bets on whether it was a trick or a real stunt (It WAS real!!) Then all the national daily papers featured it on their front pages and it just grew from there.

They helped initially by replying to comments and thanking people for viewing. Then people started making parody videos too - which sent even more people to see the video on YouTube. By now it has had 73,338,287 views and they didn't need to pay for a single TV ad.

Now I know that not everyone has the budget to pay for JC Van Damme (we don't!) - but it does illustrate the power of social media rather well.

The last speakers came from East Staffs CAB, who had been nominated for an award for "Excellence in Social Media" Dawn and Emily told us how they decided to use Twitter to help them. They are no longer government funded so must bid for funds from various agencies. They need to get people involved and to let others know what they are about and what they do as they have to compete with other bigger organisations for funds and resources. Previous to using Twitter they used to send out a press release to the local press once a month. They set themselves a target of getting 50 followers in the first week and 20 by the end of a month. They also started by following local journalists, MPs, decision makers. They send out 2/3 tweets per day and talk about what's happening with the staff, any events they might be having and most importantly they tell stories! That is what really works.

They talk about the things they have done to help their customers week by week. Maybe they've saved someone's house, helped find someone a job or dealt with someone's dept. Of course they change names and other details which could compromise the privacy of the actual client. They also said that photos work really well too.

They also set up the hashtag #CABlive - and event that happens once a year where they invite other Citizen Advice Bureau to join them to tell their stories too. So for very little money they have got almost 1000  followers and anyone can see what they do. Emily did warn us that you need to make sure that there is someone to take over the tweeting if the main person goes on holiday or has a weekend off. You need to be able to reply and tweet regularly to make a difference.

Birmingham Library

Beautiful windows from inside

New and old combined - love it!

Floozy's Jacuzzi not working today!

He looks cross - but is friendly :-)
At the end of the presentations we were able to put questions to any of the speakers. I asked if they could see a future for using apps in marketing. I told them of the success we were having with schools having their own apps and did they think they would work for businesses too. David said that when apps came out initially lots of customers asked them for one - but when asked what they wanted it to do they didn't know! However, he could see a value for them the way we were using them in schools.

After chatting to some of the other delegates and handing out a few leaflets I got the bus back into the town centre. It had been a really useful session and who knows - maybe I could become a Social Media guru. :-)

I took the chance to visit Birmingham Library - as it is the first time I've seen it. It is a stunning building and a surprising mixture of old and new inside. I loved it - shame I couldn't spend all day in there!

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