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The Social Web for Business - Social Media Assignment. Alex Clapson 20th July 2013


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A short, easy read paper on the benefits of using Social Media to market your business.

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The Social Web for Business - Social Media Assignment. Alex Clapson 20th July 2013

  1. 1. Module: MK1H05 – The Social Web for business Lecturer: Russell Britton - Assignment One – Word Count: 1,852 By Alex Clapson 20th July 2013
  2. 2. The Origins of Social Networks Social Medias’ origins can be traced back to the late 1960’s when computer networking was envisioned as a military-centric command and control system. As it expanded, so too did the idea that connected computers might also make a great forum for discussing mutual topics of interest, and perhaps even meeting or renewing acquaintances with other humans. In the 1970s that process began in earnest however, at this time, computers were a rare commodity. The machines’ language was bewildering, and their potential seemingly limited. Proponents were mostly dedicated, introverted & obsessive computer nerds, yet it was also during this time, that the very outgoing notion of social networking would take its first steps towards becoming the omnipresent cultural phenomenon we know and love in 2013. By 2002, social networking really got into its stride with the launch of Friendster which used a degree of separation concept similar to that of the now-defunct, and promoted the idea that a rich online community can exist only between people who truly have common bonds. Introduced just a year later in 2003, LinkedIn took a decidedly more serious, sober approach to the social networking phenomenon. Rather than being a mere playground for former classmates, teenagers, and cyberspace romancers, LinkedIn was, and still is, a networking resource for businesspeople who want to connect with other professionals. Today, LinkedIn boasts more than 175 million members.
  3. 3. It is, however, the pervasive Facebook that now leads the global social networking movement. Founded, like many social networking sites, by university students who initially peddled their product to other university students, Facebook launched in 2004 as a Harvard-only exercise and remained a campus-oriented site for two full years before finally opening to the general public in 2006. The secret of Facebook’s success boasting 1 billion users (of which 701 million are active accounts according to GlobalWebIndex – May 01st 2013) is a subject of some debate. Some point to its ease of use, others to its multitude of easily-accessed features, and still others to a far simpler factor – its memorable, descriptive name. The other key to success was Facebook’s ubiquitous ‘Like’ button which broke free from the bounds of the site and began appearing all over the internet. Now you can ‘Like’ or “Tweet’ just about everything even when you’re not on Facebook or Twitter. Realising the power of social networking, Google decided in 2011 to launch its own social network: Google+. It differed from Facebook and Twitter in that it wasn’t necessarily a full-featured networking site, but rather a social “layer” of the overall Google experience. Within just four weeks, G+ had gathered 25 million unique visitors. According to GlobalWebIndex (May 01st 2013), Google Plus can now boast 359 million active users (a rise of over 34% in just 12 months). The reasons are complex and are tied to Google’s attempt to form a connecting layer across all of its platforms such as YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail etc. – Log into one, and you’ve logged into the Google Suite. Second only to Facebook, Google Plus has arguably demonstrated that there is still room for innovation and competition in the realm of social networking. The Future of Social Networks What does the future of social networking look like? Judging from a few recent developments, the social media of the future might be open source or even community based, and certainly far more mobile. The worldwide web opened up new possibilities for global marketeers to reach audiences they had previously only dreamed about. No longer were they held back by international conventions, artificially imposed restrictions & censure, the world really was their oyster, and the rewards of which they would immediately invest vast amounts of their budgets into this fledgling marketplace.
  4. 4. Social Media influence is highly prized by marketers, and it is the quality of the content, rather than the amount of ‘traffic’, or followers which are considered to be most important (2013, Social Media Today). worth/#sthash.xCQJWAQm.dpuf Competitor Analysis Understanding the competition is a key aspect of growing a successful business. A comprehensive analysis of known competitors both locally and further afield revealed that less than 8% were currently utilising Social Media in any meaningful way. This created for me both opportunities and challenges: the opportunity to connect with my current and future customers in a relatively quiet on-line market-place on the one hand, but also having to spend a lot of time thinking about, and developing original content and the ‘tone of voice’. The values held by my business are closely aligned with those of the Social Work profession – see the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) Code of Ethics for Social Work: My business takes an ethical approach to all its activities and trust and integrity are embodiments of the values upon which I lead my personal and professional life. Whilst researching my competitors, not only did I discover that most did not have an on-line presence, but that also, among those who did, that there was not sense of what they stood for, or valued. This created the possibility to create a unique on-line ‘brand’ which has begun to reap multiple rewards both in terms of enquiries, bookings and building a strong reputation. My ‘customers’ are from a broad range (both the private & public sectors) and situated around the globe and my ‘offering’ is that of business consultancy and training, as well as helping organisations develop coaching & mentoring cultures. Guidelines for the use of Social Media
  5. 5. Social Media presents both opportunities and challenges for both individuals and their organisations. As a qualified, registered & practising Social Worker, I worked with BASW in producing their recently published Social Media Policy: The positive use of social media for networking, communication and developing inclusive practice is to be encouraged. As a Social Worker, I should maintain appropriate professional and personal boundaries and take responsibility for recognising ethical dilemmas presented by the use of different types of social media. I must also consider the possible risks both for myself and service users, particularly young people or other vulnerable adults. My business is founded upon integrity and trust; use of Social Media therefore is solely for the gathering and dissemination of information (including uploading original content and re-tweeting other’s content), contributing to on-line professional discussion groups (such as those found on LinkedIn) and promoting upcoming courses and events. Authentic helpfulness is a phase which summarises the approach to the use of social media for my business. Social media can enhance communication and be used as a positive tool in many areas of professional and personal lives and good practice in social media is similar to good practice in other forms of communication. The global consulting, technology & outsourcing giant Capgemini’s guide to the use of social media platforms is both comprehensive & useable, without being overly onerous. The wording of the guidelines encourages responsible usage, whilst avoiding talking down to, or patronising the audience. An example from the summing up paragraph: “Use of social computing platforms in accordance with this policy can be a very effective and powerful communication tool. Be proud of what you do and enjoy a sense of accomplishment in the search for better quality and greater efficiency. Above all, please use good judgment, be attentive to others and take the trouble to listen and be understood.” Final Solution The time I have invested in developing an on-line presence, using the following Social Media platforms is already proving its worth: LinkedIn ; Twitter & SlideShare I ensure that my entire on-line footprint is aligned with my values and beliefs – numerous other platforms were both considered and trialled, including Facebook and Hootsuite, however, the three platforms I now use are those which my current and potential customers use and trust. Future developments include a website which is currently being built for me, high-speed broadband (see appendices for evidence of the current inadequate provision), and the development of video resources.
  6. 6. I have begun to upload original meaningful content in a bid to offer authentic helpfulness and to become known as the ‘go to’ person for advice on developing Coaching and Mentoring schemes within organisations as well as the training aspects of my business. I was, until recently, the Head of Coaching and Mentoring for the Welsh Government and having taken the decision to go freelance, I now invest a significant amount of time writing and sharing my knowledge and experience. For example, I decided to make available a paper which I wrote at the end of May 2013 on Workplace Mentoring. I offered a Pdf format copy to users of LinkedIn if they agreed to connect with me (to expend my network and create opportunities). I broadcast its availability through numerous LinkedIn discussion groups and within 3 weeks had sent out close to 200 copies – at least one contract I have secured can be directly attributed to this ‘random act of kindness’. I then offered the same paper on SlideShare and within 6 days, 892 individuals had viewed it. Several people have downloaded my paper as well as Tweeted it, and numerous academics, researchers and senior managers have contacted me for advice, and permission to reference the work. I was approached by the Editor of Nursery Management Today, asking if I would write an article for their magazine (to which I agreed) and I am still receiving enquiries some 8 weeks after the initial offering.
  7. 7. My Social Media platforms are now linked together, and original content which I upload onto SlideShare, I also promote through my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Creating this synergy helps set the tone and continuity for each of the platforms, and I complement my own content with regular selective re-broadcasting of others content (always acknowledged and credited). Subjects broadcast have included: Mentoring; Coaching; Disability issues; Social Media Marketing advice; links to fundraising opportunities for the numerous charities I assist; Social Work Policy related materials etc. Many individuals and organisations now look to me to filter useful and relevant materials for them, and I regularly send my connections interesting articles, or resources which I have discovered on-line: ‘I saw this and though of you’. This approach is helping to build upon and strengthen my unique position on-line. Having set up a LinkedIn and Twitter accounts within the past 12 months, I now have 1,331 LinkedIn connections and 476 followers on Twitter (see screen shots in the appendices for further evidence of progress over the past few months). I also follow 1,756 individuals to ensure that I am keeping in touch with developments in the field and to provide me with a steady flow of good quality content to pass-on to my followers. Many of my tweets are now being re-tweeted which has helped to strengthen my on-line presence. To date, I have invested an average of 90 minutes per day over a 12 month period into building my on-line presence; this has now reduced to 60 minutes per day. I have secured several lucrative contracts, built an on-line presence which is robust and trusted and thoroughly enjoyed the journey.
  8. 8. Appendices: Screen Shot Evidence (In chronological order) Alex Clapson: Top Influencer – EMCC LinkedIn Group - 05-06-13 Alex Clapson: Klout Score - 14-06-13
  9. 9. Alex Clapson: Broadband Speed Test - 17-06-13 Alex Clapson: SlideShare Success…! - 17-06-13
  10. 10. Alex Clapson: SlideShare features my Workplace Mentoring Paper - 17-06-13 Alex Clapson: Charitable work recognised on Twitter - 18-06-13
  11. 11. Alex Clapson: 865 views on SlideShare within 6 days of uploading document - 19-06-13 Alex Clapson: LinkedIn Statistics (1,606 views in 90 days) - 19-06-13
  12. 12. Alex Clapson: Coaching Network – LinkedIn Group (2nd Top Influencer) - 19-06-13 Alex Clapson: Interactions on Twitter - 19-06-13
  13. 13. Alex Clapson: Klout influence (increasing weekly) - 19-06-13 Alex Clapson: SlideShare Statistics (up to 901 views, + Downloads & Tweets) - 21-06-13
  14. 14. Alex Clapson: LinkedIn Statistics - 22-06-13 Alex Clapson: SlideShare reaches over 1,000 views - 30-06-13
  15. 15. Alex Clapson: Klout Statistics - 03-07-13 Alex Clapson: SlideShare Statistics - 04-07-13
  16. 16. Alex Clapson: EMCC LinkedIn Group – Top Influencer - 07-07-13 Alex Clapson: EMCC LinkedIn Group – Top Influencer - 07-07-13
  17. 17. Top 10 Social Media Marketing Tips for 2013 Many social media sites started out as personal sites but social media marketing has become one of the most powerful online strategies for businesses, online and offline. These social sites are continually growing, expanding and changing and it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with these changes. Below are the top ten tips to help your social media marketing in 2013. 1. Make your posts more relevant When people first started using the social sites they were posting things like "Going shopping today with the kids. Wish me luck!" The social sites have grown and changed. You need to start posting more relevant information. Make it about your readers and followers, not about you. Post solutions, inspiration, and interesting facts that can be useful and helpful. 2. Utilize features and tools Social sites are increasing the possibilities for your business with more tools and features than ever before. Take stock of all these tools and learn to use them for the benefit of your followers and your business. 3. Visual Marketing Marketing is going visual and you need to do the same. Embed text and your business info in relevant graphics to post. Pinterest, using image sharing, has broken records with its growth. Pictures are also the mostly widely used and shared method of posting on Facebook. When people share your images you want them to see your website link or other relevant info. 4. Help Your Clients/Readers No matter what business you are in, you cannot provide solutions to all your clients' needs. Be willing to post links, information and resources of other businesses that can help your clients where you cannot. 5. Use Your Analytics Review your analytics regularly to see what is working and what isn't. Are people visiting one social site more than others? When are people visiting your pages? Find out everything you can from your results. You can learn a lot from your analytics but you must utilize them to reap the benefits. 6. Host Events Hold regular events such as giveaways, seminars, chats, networking parties, promotions, etc. Facebook has recently updated their event feature so it is easier and more efficient. 7. Connections Not Sales Use your social media pages to connect with your potential customers not for sales. You want to use social media to share information, respond to questions and comments and to showcase what your business is about. You don't want to continually bombard your social sites with sales pitches and ads. Help your followers find solutions, do not pitch to them. 8. SlideShare SlideShare is predicted to be the fastest growing social site in 2013. SlideShare will allow you to share your presentations with millions. You can also share documents, PDFs and videos. The possibilities are endless with this SlideShare. 9. Google+ Google+ will be more important to your business. By being on Google+, you will be able to take full advantage of Google's many services and tools. It hasn't the social power of some of the other sites but it is a central part of Google and you should be a part of it. 10. Use Fewer Social Sites Concentrating your marketing efforts to a few of the better producing sites is more effective than
  18. 18. spreading yourself too thin over many of the social sites. The time it takes to successfully participate in social media is substantial so you need to build a strong presence on the sites that deliver rather than trying to dominate them all. Social media marketing is expected to reach new and unequalled heights in 2013. Don't let your business be left behind. Become active with social media. Really get involved. Make new connections and post relevant visual items. Make it about your followers and clients, not about what cereal you had for breakfast! LinkedIn Social Media Marketing Group article 20th July 2013 by Catherine Beresford