Tag Archives: social media

How Your Small Business Can Benefit From eCommerce


Once again, we have teamed up with Kayleigh Alexandra, a content writer for Micro Startups, to guest write an article for our blog. We asked her to consider the topic of e-commerce for SMEs. Read on for her helpful thoughts on the subject.

“The decline of big high street chains has been well publicised in recent years. HMV, House of Fraser, Markers & Spencer, Game: are some of the big names who have suffered store closures. Though bricks and mortar retail still contributes significantly to economies, many pundits are predicting the death of the high street as we know it, in the long term. E-commerce, on the other hand, is on the rise.

If you’re a small business (SME), embracing e-commerce can offer you a wide range of benefits. But, it can also be daunting to know where to start — what about social media, logistics, websites, PWAs or mobile apps?

And even though e-commerce is a no-brainer for product-led businesses, it can also offer benefits for small businesses selling services or time.

In this article, we’ll talk you through the major benefits of an e-commerce model, and some tips you can follow to get the most out of it.

What is e-commerce?

Put simply, e-commerce is selling products or services online. Since the internet became commercially available in the early Nineties, more and more companies have moved their business partially or entirely online. Spearheaded by the likes of Amazon and eBay, e-commerce offered a world of possibility and not just for consumers either.

With reduced overheads compared to brick-and-mortar stores and the ability to reach a wider audience, e-commerce offers businesses of virtually any industry (including yours) significant benefits.

Whether you are selling coaching calls, bespoke bags, marketing services, an online course, or even flowers — the convenience of one-click e-commerce is yours for the taking. Easy software and low subscription costs make e-commerce technology affordable for even the tiniest of operations.

Moving from local to global

One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is expanding their customer base outside friends, family, and local word of mouth recommendations. This may mean you need to invest in pay-for strategies such as search advertising and online directories to spread the word about your brand.

This is where e-commerce offers huge benefits — expanding your customer reach and making your products available globally is a great way to find new customer communities. Finding fans is a big priority for small businesses (repeat business, positive social proof), and e-commerce can help you expedite the process.

Even if you’re mainly selling online or making the transition — you should still highlight your local flavour. By utilising Google’s My Business pages, you can enhance your online presence in local areas. This is particularly useful if you’re selling heavy goods that require collecting, or if you are targeting a set of local postcodes.

Google My Business image

Help customers find you with SEO

Search engines are the single largest traffic driver for e-commerce websites, ten times higher than social media. As such, it behoves you to optimise your website for search engines to direct customers to your site. It can extend your reach well beyond your local area with cleverly tailored optimisation.

SEO is a bow with many strings and it can seem daunting for the beginner. But there are plenty of online resources that can help you nail the basics (Moz has a particularly good guide to SEO here).

Another big plus is to ensure your website has a strong internal link structure, and it’s worth implementing a strong content marketing strategy ASAP. Create and regularly update a blog that provides useful content to your audience — not only will it provide value to your customers, but it will help you rise through the ranks on search engine results pages.

Use social to connect with your customers

E-commerce goes hand-in-hand with social media to form a powerful marketing strategy that lets you connect with your customers.

It won’t have escaped your attention that social is a hugely popular environment that virtually all your customers are active on. As a result, it pays to connect with them on a platform they are active on.

On social, brands can share content, provide offers and competitions, and even address customer complaints. A strong social marketing strategy helps to humanise your brand and increases engagement by sharing posts that will appear alongside posts from your customers’ friends and family.

And it’s also a chance for brands to sell their products directly through social as well. A number of social platforms include selling options, such as Facebook’s Marketplace or Instagram’s Shoppable posts. These let your customers make purchases without ever leaving their social app, taking your e-commerce further by going straight to the consumer.


Minimal overheads

If you’re a small business owner, you’ll know the pressures of balancing overheads all too well. Staff costs, building costs, utilities, furniture: it all adds up.

The nature of a bricks and mortar business requires footfall from customers or knowledge of your location. Often you need to rationalise paying extra for rent in a good location to ensure you’re easily found. This can make it difficult for small businesses to penetrate the high street.

E-commerce, on the other hand, doesn’t require a shop. It can even be done from home. All you need is a domain, hosting and an e-commerce website or mobile app. O’C&K have some sample apps here that you can have a look at.

Designing and building an e-commerce website or an app does require an initial investment, but it’s significantly less than the upkeep and maintenance of a building. And once it’s done, maintenance is extraordinarily cheap.

And you can even cut time and costs by buying an existing online business and repurposing it. This not only saves you the hassle of setting up the store itself up, but they often come with pre-made marketing channels that are ready to go instantly.

You don’t need staff to manage your checkout or in-store customer management. Your site does it all. From guiding customers through their buying journey to handling their payments.


Analyse and adapt

Possibly the most beneficial aspect of an e-commerce website is its data collection.

By selling online and using a combination of your e-commerce platform’s inbuilt analytics, you’ll have access to a wealth of information about your customers’ shopping habits.

You can then start to build a knowledge base by highlighting key questions such as:

  • What are your most popular products?
  • Where are your buyers based?
  • What did they look at before they bought?
  • How many visits did it take before they bought?
  • What day of the week and time of the day do people buy the most?
  • How successful have your offers been?

When you have collated this information, consider how you can optimise your site accordingly.


With such a wealth of consumer data so readily available online, e-commerce makes it easy for brands to fine-tune their selling practices for maximum effect. Even simple things such as what time your consumers made a purchase can be leveraged to hone your online business.

Use a good analytics tool to know your consumers inside and out, and reposition yourself and your marketing accordingly.

There are so many benefits of e-commerce for your small business. Hopefully, this article has convinced you that starting an e-commerce site or mobile app can really add value to your business. Get started and feel the benefits of e-commerce today.”

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit their blog for the latest marketing insights from top experts and inspiring entrepreneurial stories. Follow them on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

“Thank you to Kayleigh for her input and to you for reading our blog post today.

If you require any assistance with your marketing including e-commerce websites or mobile apps do not hesitate to give us a call.

Cheers –  Aidan & Jim.

From time to time we send a heads-up email to advise publication of our smarter marketing blog post.

Would you like to be included and get free smarter marketing tips? – yes please 

Why is getting Social Media Marketing right, so Important?

social media marketing

Wow, now that was a quick year. At this stage, you are probably back at the desk and, hopefully, still on track with your New Year resolutions. If you’re a marketer, you’re more than likely in the process of fine-tuning your marketing strategies for success in 2018. I have no doubt that such a process includes a social media marketing (SMM) strategy.

“Using social media? Sure, that’s old hat at this stage. Everybody knows what to do”. Have you heard this sentiment recently? I have.

So rather than a ‘how to use social media’ blog post, I thought it’d be worthwhile to use this post to a) see if organisations were keeping abreast of digital developments last year, b) if we are really ready to use social media marketing in a smarter way this year and c) suggest what our online behaviour should be like if we want our social media marketing to be successful.

But before we go there I would just like to revisit the perennial question – “What is the ROI of social media marketing?”

In your organisation, you and/or those with a financial background might constantly look to match a direct outgoing cost with a direct incoming profit. In business generally, this is a reasonable quest. However, when it comes to social media marketing a defined return isn’t always obvious and therefore, it can be hard to argue the case for using social media as a marketing tool.

I believe that this is missing the point of SMM. So when questioned by some of our clients embarking on a fresh online journey, my response is to say that the use of social media can generate multiple returns, some of which may well be sales. I have to emphasise that the return may not be linear, and is usually indirect.

The Indirect Return on Social Media Marketing

Yes, there are ways of directly measuring some social media marketing. For example, by using a platform to drive people to a landing page (or specific website page) that has a special offer, you can count the conversions. To me, pay-per-click (PPC) marketing like Google Adwords can accomplish this without much fuss. This method is fine – until you stop paying for the ads, then the traffic dries up and you’re back to where you started from.

The point I want to make here is that with SMM you are building, and engaging with, a community of people that want to hear from you – I mean, they either, followed you, liked you, linked-up with you or choose to follow your Pins for a reason. They usually don’t disappear if you don’t post every day.

So, to finish this point I would like to mention three definite areas where I believe that social media marketing provides an indirect benefit.

  1. It facilitates engagement with your brand on multiple platforms and channels – as determined by customers.
  2. The cost of branding to specific audiences is reduced (as opposed to traditional marketing methods).
  3. It provides the same potential return that offline networking does – in other words, you get back what you put into it.

6 Ways that Social Media Marketing Developed in 2017

So, you think you were totally on top of your social media efforts last year? Let’s have a look at some of the developments that occurred and you can judge yourself if you were on trend.

  1. Interactive video (e.g. Periscope, Facebook Live) became a thing. Live video content is still on the rise and will be one to watch this year also. You can now use mainstream channels such as, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to bring your audience what they want to see. Watch this space for growing customer service uses as well.
  2. Messaging Apps have (almost) taken over from text messaging. Think how this is going to change the face of customer service. Companies will be able to solve customer problems in real time and bring social networking to a different level altogether.
  3. The major platforms started to allow for e-commerce to flourish. Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook offered ways to purchase products directly from their apps.
  4. Virtual reality (think 360-degree videos) was expected to stick its hand up, promising great opportunities for us marketers. However, by the year-end it looked like augmented reality (AR) is becoming the first port-of-call for brands. Of course, AI (bots) also started to become mainstream, but that is a separate topic to be covered here at a later date, perhaps.
  5. Instagram was the first to copy Snapchat’s ephemeral (disappearing) content. Personally, I don’t ‘get’ the purpose of it except that it can possibly portray an unscripted or more human side to your brand. Of course, depending on your audience, this may be exactly what’s required.
  6. For sure, mobile advertising grew more competitive. Spend on all the major channels grew last year and the easier they make it – the more marketers will employ it as a sales technique. I suppose our advice for 2018 would be to experiment on the different platforms to see what works best for your audience.

If all of the above frightens you a little – don’t worry. Aidan and I, (O’C&K) are managing social media campaigns for our clients on a continuous basis. We are here to help you as a smarter marketing resource or as once off project managers. Contact us for a chat.

Behaviour is Important in Social Media Marketing.

The one thing that we (brands, company owners, marketers etc.) should have learnt, over the last say 8 years, is how we should act on social media. People expect us to act in a certain way and if we don’t, our brands may suffer.

The irony here is that as we all get our heads around social media marketing, it is also harder to rise above the noise. Determining what your customers want from you is a great way to gather positive attention and strengthen your brand.

Here are our 4 pillars to base your social media marketing on in 2018:

  1. Be Active on Social Media. Nowadays people of all ages expect you to be on social media e.g. Facebook. They might not check out your website, but they will search for you on Facebook or LinkedIn. Companies that ignore this point are missing out on an opportunity to engage new (and existing) customers. In addition, by sharing your content they also become influencers within their own communities.
  2. Be Honest on Social Media. In the recent years of political uncertainty and economic upheaval, your customers want (expect) an honest relationship with brands they prefer. So, in an environment of ‘fake news’ and political falsifications – you can safely assume that at some stage wrongdoings are going to be aired on social media. Honesty is no longer an option – it is a necessity.
  3. Be Flattered on Social Media. Focus on making a personalised connection. Let’s be honest – none of us wants to be sold to, on social media. If people think that your brand is on social media purely for sales, I can guarantee that your social media marketing (sic) will not succeed. Be flattered that they want to engage with you and treat them as people and not pay packets.
  4. Be Supportive on Social Media. Usually, people, outside of personal connections, want to ask questions, join conversations, be entertained or find out about timely events. So – make sure that your activity on social media is seen as being supportive. Respond in good time, be relevant and be consistent.


If your social media marketing is to succeed, the secret is to bear in mind why people (your customers) are on social media in the first place. Your organisation should use it in the same way as they want to use it.

The thing to remember is that social media is ultimately a place where people go to make a connection. A brand being active and supportive builds trust and thereby an emotional link. One sure thing that will break that link is where the finance people look for a 1:1 return and the relationship is measured purely in financial terms. So if your organisation is going to undertake social media marketing, it is important that it is done right. Of course, be professional but also be human.

N.B. April 2018: Don’t just take our word for it. We came across an excellent social media marketing movie wherein, with a goal of helping businesses understand the power of social media marketing, a digital marketing expert spends 24 hours interviewing renowned influencers in the industry.

Have a look at it here:

“Thank you for reading our blog post today, we hope our pointers will help your business grow.

Cheers –  Aidan & Jim.

From time to time we send a heads-up email to advise publication of our smarter marketing blog post.

Would you like to be included and get free smarter marketing tips? – yes please 

Social Media Branding – Are You Boring People?


Let’s be honest with each other here – most organisations / brands using social media these days are boring.

I believe this is so because when it comes to social media branding, their mind-set is stuck in the old communications  approach to advertising, media releases, sponsorship and marketing materials. An approach that tells people what you want them to hear.

The thing is, even when the social media approach is altruistic, an organisation’s tone and personality often can’t shine through. This is because the minute it comes to marketing communication – the brand personality is wrapped up in cotton wool a.k.a. brand guidelines

Now don’t get me wrong, brand guidelines are necessary, but SME owners / marketing managers really need to revisit their engagement methods with the modern day consumer. In the current whirlwind of connectivity, people want organisations to be more ‘human’.

They want to know that they can trust a brand and will only stick with those that are relevant and authentic. They want to be able to ‘message’ brands when, where and how it suits them.

[ctt template=”4″ link=”r4d18″ via=”no” ]People want to know that they can trust a brand and will only stick with those that are relevant and authentic – #oconnorandkelly[/ctt]

So why then, when brands dive into the social media pool, are they still doing the doggy-paddle and not learning new swimming strokes. In fact, the swimming strokes don’t have to be new – they only have to be interesting. Why? Because interesting, gets shared by people across their own platforms.

If you’re not interesting, therefore, you may be boring.

My own opinion of most brands on social media is that existing identity ‘style guidelines’ are curtailing natural expression. By all means, adhere to identity guidelines but hey – why not draw up separate ones for your online activity. In fact, I’m delighted to say that more and more of our clients are requesting assistance with this element of their marketing.

We can help you with your social media style guide also – if you wish, just contact us here.

Employees should be allowed to share business stories naturally. It’s a human thing. Them doing so then becomes part of the brand story. Not allowing them to do so, results in the real personality of the organisation remaining behind closed doors. That is why so many organisations appear to be boring when communicating online.

By the way, old fashioned, interruptive style advertising does not help the situation either – good article here from Brand Quarterly on this topic.

Look at it this way, it’s no coincidence that the content most shared by people is that which involves human emotion be it entertaining, informative or educational. Behind-the-scenes videos, staff profiles, subject matter experts, interviews and product stories are all ways in which people make brands come alive.

If people from any organisation are unshackled from brand guidelines and allowed to be themselves, within reason, they will become advocates of the brand. I’m saying nothing new here – business owners and marketers have always known that it is customers and staff that are the essence of a brand.

The Role of Social Media Branding.

Let’s quickly agree that branding is important for marketing. We know this because it can help provide an advantage over competitors through differentiation, help reinforce reputation and manage visibility.

It is also true to say that branding guidelines are necessary for consistency. However, that is not to say that having guidelines means there is no room for change / flexibility.

The branding may change but the brand should remain the same. So, if we take branding here to include activity on social media – then being flexible can only enhance marketing activity.

As part of modern day marketing, social media plays a role in search results. This means it can be used for not only driving traffic to your business but also to build trust and relevancy (reputation) with people online. In fact, recent surveys have shown the strong influence of social media on shopping habits:


By creating a dialogue on social media, a brand owner (especially in a business start-up situation) can obtain genuine feedback and build authenticity. As already alluded to, however, consistency is essential – online activity must mirror a brand’s purpose just as much as a paid campaign would.

If your organisation is only starting your social media journey – here are 4 excellent tips from the guys at Social Media Examiner, to start you on your way,

Be More Likeable on Social Media – Not More Boring

We’re not going to write this blog post and pretend that gaining attention on social media is easy. It’s not. As you well know, most of your competitors are now using social media in an attempt to improve search results and customer experience. The thing is, amidst all that online noise, being genuine helps you to stand out and be more likeable.

Being genuine means being real and not just using social media as a promotional tool. By providing some value (content) you will be in a position to develop your following. Also, people will like you more if you engage by inviting both a discussion and feedback.

If you’re good enough, smart enough and tell a good story – people will like you.

Before I finish on this topic, I should mention one more thing. Most marketers will agree that having a clear brand positioning is essential for long-term business growth. However, there is a danger in all of this attitudinal change to social media branding that the fundamentals of brand strategy may be neglected.

For instance, we are all too aware of ‘keeping up with the latest’ trends which have enticed a lot of brands online. The thing is – many organisations are not basing its social media usage on tangible business benefits.The risk, therefore, is that with all the focus being on social, the overall brand strategy can be overlooked. As a result, the brand message and experience gets fragmented across an increased number of platforms.

This can undermine other marketing activity and indeed the brand equity itself.

Don’t get me wrong – social media offers a great new way of engaging with connected customers it’s just that your brand strategy probably needs to be rebooted for the modern customer. A reboot might include a revisit to the purpose of the brand i.e. the role of the brand in a customer’s life; a deeper understanding of the customer (personas) and developing a simple and clear visual brand message.

What next for social media?

What’s the future for social media branding? Bearing in mind the caveat alluded to above about brand positioning and the tips below, here are some observations gleaned from around the web.

– A standardisation of various platforms i.e. biggest platforms are mimicking each other

– Video is getting close to the peak – live video is hot and circular video is growing

– Augmented Reality / Filters adoption is growing

– Increased competition amongst the big search engines

– Platforms becoming business tools and not just for social

– Tech filled glasses (spectacles) and live-streaming

– Better geo-filtering for ad targeting

– Microsoft bought LinkedIn – so watch this space

Tips for successful social media branding

We meet different organisations from various industries that have many brand variables when it comes to being smarter about their marketing online. The one bit of advice we always give them is not to waste their time on networks that don’t work for them.

Here are a few other tips that you might also consider:

  • Know your audience – many platforms offer free audience insights so use them
  • Define your goals upfront – helps motivation towards better results.
  • Have clear and consistent branding – create a visual experience for your customers.
  • Develop a clear voice – your language shows the personality behind the brand
  • Leverage influencers – they can help you reach a greater, relevant audience
  • Track and measure results – replicate the good and stop the bad


The likelihood that your target audience is on social media has never been higher. Statistics show that there are nearly 3.4 billion internet users worldwide. Of those, 2.3 billion have social media accounts. The challenge for organisations is to be able to use social media as an element of its overall marketing activity – in a human way.

Being human means allowing your personality to shine through, knowing your customers better and providing a mix of interesting and relevant content.

Always ask yourself – are you guessing what your audience wants and even if not, are you addressing the right issues? Get the answers to these questions right and you’ll never be boring on social media.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

Social Media is a Tool for Building Online Relationships, Pure and Simple

online relationships facebook eye

More and more Aidan and I are meeting SME owners, or their marketing managers, requesting help with their brand’s online presence. The goal of a strong online presence is to build relationships that will drive revenue, eventually. The former part of this goal can be achieved using social media.

One of the challenges we find, when responding to a communications brief, is explaining to prospects that social media is mainly a tool for building online relationships and not one for driving revenue.

Unfortunately, as various social media platforms have become a household norm these days, some SMEs do see them as being ideal sales tools. They are not and the danger of this blinkered view is that while concentrating on social media activity, other real methods of lead generation might end up being ignored.

Using a social media channel for the sole purpose of getting people’s attention, and money, will not work. Think about it – would you prefer to be engaged, entertained or informed vs being interrupted by a brand talking about itself and its product features?

I’d like to mention a few other misconceptions that some organisations have. One that springs to mind is that social media provides a quick ROI. It doesn’t I’m afraid. Just like any relationship building exercise – it takes time, effort and possibly even a little money.

Another one is that social media is free. However, I do believe that most organisations are now aware that the main hidden cost of social media is, yep, you’ve guessed it – your time. And if you don’t put in the time and effort, your relationship building light will produce disappointing results.

With new clients, we concentrate initially on determining their target audience. Sometimes this will entail some formal research. It is only when you really know your customers can you be yourself and use social media to engage them.

If you don’t like the idea of networking with strangers, well don’t try and do it online either.

Oh, and by the way – you don’t have to be on every new platform either. Try and find out where the people you are interested in are hanging out and go there. Become an expert in the workings of that platform. Of course, you can use Facebook but just don’t depend on it solely.

Misguided advice will not help you build good online relationships

There is an element of this social media world that really annoys us here in O’C&K Towers. It is that there are many so-called social media gurus out there. Unfortunately, they can provide organisations with misguided advice based on little or no real marketing experience.

As a result, organisations believe that social media will deliver all their marketing needs and don’t realise that they are missing the big picture. Have a look at this list of 10 dodgy bits of advice that we have come across – do any of them ring a bell?

  1. Forget about email – being on social media is the way forward
  2. Social media is replacing SEO
  3. Auto-published updates across all platforms are perfectly fine
  4. Using #general hashtags guarantees better audience reach
  5. Your audience is only using one social media channel
  6. An intern can manage your online presence
  7. Ignore negative comments online
  8. Keep your staff away from the business’s social media
  9. Post updates as often as you can each day
  10. You can’t measure social media activity

For us, the bottom line, when building online relationships, is to be useful. With authentic positioning, you might even become indispensable. So be very clear about what you are providing for your audience, it has little to do with the technology and everything to do with effective communication.

Use a hub & spoke model for building online relationships

A very strong way of building online relationships is to provide people with something that’s relevant. Whatever form this content takes it should be something your business owns. By owning I mean your website or blog and not content on someone else’s platform.

Tools are used to entice people to visit your offering. One of the best descriptions I’ve come across explaining this is likened to a hub and spoke effect. Your site / blog is the hub and social media tools are the spokes.

We’ve mentioned the Razor Social website before, on which we find Ian Cleary to be an excellent source of information on social media tools.

Before jumping into a particular social media tool, however, I would advise that you determine where your customers / prospects are participating online already. Also, have a look at which platforms your competitors are using, or not using.

Maybe prioritise your efforts on one tool first and experiment. Do you have anything unique that you could offer on a particular channel that gives you a perceived advantage e.g. visuals? Have any of your staff / colleagues an existing expertise on a particular platform that you can learn from?

Here is an interesting infographic from the people at Spin Sucks that outlines an 8 step tool-agnostic approach.

7 Tips about being human on social media

Social media can be used to show customers, and prospects, who the people behind a logo are.

  1. – Be personable – you and your colleagues are your brand.
  2. – Listening is as important is talking, find out what your customers are talking about.
  3. – Talk in the first person rather than as a brand.
  4. – Have a unique voice, for instance, if you have a sense of humour – show it.
  5. – Use people’s name when engaging with them, just as you would offline.
  6. – Get your message across any way you can by using video, cartoons, emojis etc.
  7. – To err is human. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it as soon as you can.


Social media is driven by technology but that’s a feature, not a benefit. It is only two-way communication that facilitates the building of online relationships. Once social media platforms are seen in this way, as a tool, conversations with targeted customers can occur. Also, a business can move closer to being truly customer focused and they might even start appearing as a human beings.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

16 Reasons To Be Cheerful – Part 3 – Using Social Media To Build Customer Relationships


In this post we continue our look at how marketing can help build customer relationships. Part 1 is here.

As a business owner, do you remember the good old days when marketing options only consisted of print advertising, cold-calling and exhibitions? Looking back now, we can see how limited these options were when trying to build customer relationships – not ineffective, just limited.

Then the great marketing saviour arrived on the scene – social media. Of course, we were thrilled with these shiny new tools but were flummoxed wondering how best to use them. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn et al. certainly drove connectivity through the roof and brands wanted in on the act.

Businesses tried to be social (kind of) and started measuring how many ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ that they could amass. However, in the early stages, social media was not providing the sales expected – not because of the tools, but because of how they were being used by brands. Purchasing power had finally moved to the people.

As a result, it is only in recent years, I believe, that brands have started to distinguish between ‘social media’ and business social media. Nowadays, a lot of businesses are including social media in their overall marketing strategies. It appears that it has finally been accepted that social media is not a passing fad but needs to be treated differently, as a marketing activity.

Finally, brands have realised that they will never be a customer’s close friend, but they can be of relevance to them.

What we like about social media for our own business is that it affords us the same opportunities that larger organisations have for brand visibility. It also allows us to listen to what our audiences are talking about as well as trying to engage them, on their terms. Finally, it not only helps to build our visibility online but can help build awareness offline also, due to networking and increased brand recognition.

Yes, the pace of change in social media can be frightening at times. Recently, we have seen a timeline algorithm update from Instagram (similar to that of Facebook and Twitter), Snapchat 2.0 (integrating voice and video calling – without a mobile number), and Facebook is enhancing their video metrics (daily performance metrics).

The bad news is that change is constant but the good news is that the upgrades are usually better for brands to build customer relationships. A good example of social media being good for business and relevant for the customer will be the introduction of the buy button on social media sites.

Four social media marketing techniques for you to consider.

  • Use it to build your brand.

This is a long-term strategy that builds and engages with a specific audience. As mentioned in our last posting on this blog (Part 2), trust, built-up over time, leads to a brand that customers genuinely like to engage with.

  • Use it for sales and conversions.

This technique has a short term focus. It entails using platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn to identify a specific need that an individual / business may have. After connecting with them on social media a request for a meeting is initiated. Care is needed that your activity is not considered spamming and accordingly, must be based on correctly identifying a need that you can satisfy.

  • Use it as part of a multi-channel campaign.

If you are planning a short-term marketing campaign, social media can be used to create extra excitement for a large audience. You can get people’s attention with polls, competitions, hashtags, videos etc. and with a bit of luck, your video or hashtag might go viral!

  • Use bookmarking sites for reach.

Social bookmarking sites can help you to drive traffic to your site. We use Scoop.it on a daily basis which is a really good curation and distribution tool. The only downside is that these sites are not targeted per se, so they are more suitable for reach instead of sales. Here’s an oldie but goldie list of such sites from SEJ.

What’s changed for businesses trying to build relationships with customers is that they must do so using many types of platforms and strategies. As alluded to above, the pace of change is extremely fast and it is important that brands keep up to date with online developments. Sometimes it’s best to outsource this element of your business strategy.

As with all tools and techniques, there are right and wrong ways to use them. Here are four signs that you might not be using social media in the right way.

  1. You spend a lot of the time talking about your own business and its offers
  2. You have no consistency of voice across your different social media platforms
  3. Your audience isn’t growing or worse – is not engaging with you
  4. You find being on social media to be a chore so you don’t bother measuring results

When done right, social media can be a very effective element of your efforts to build customer relationships. Consider the above warning signs and change your approach if needs be.

Tips and Timesavers

Some businesses have considered it good practice to have documented policy and procedures for their social media activity, in-house. We would recommend that all businesses do so – there are many templates online that can be used.

There are also a few basic principles of social media marketing that should be adhered to:

  1. Respect your followers and don’t provide them with less than 100% quality content
  2. Give freely to others because what goes around comes around
  3. The customer isn’t always right but at least, move the discussion offline by way of customer service
  4. Paid for advertising on social media is acceptable, as it is targeted – spamming is not
  5. Building relationships with and using social media influencers is fine, if mutually agreed
  6. Review your analytics (usually free) weekly and learn from mistakes
  7. Be consistent of voice and be positive in attitude
  8. Don’t become a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Pick a platform where your audience is


If you decide to use social media as a tactic for building customer relationships remember that it must form part of overall business objectives. It is not a good idea to be on social media because everybody else is. Determine your customers from your marketing plan and use the channels where they are, to engage with them. In this way, they are more likely to respond to your calls-to-action.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K