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Social Media Data Wars: Companies vs. Governments

With more and more users signing on each day, social media platforms are playing an important role in the new battle concerning the control of data. They are able to hold data on their users that not only affects privacy laws, but could fundamentally affect democracy and the way it operates. This has given them an increasing amount of political power on the world stage – much to the dismay of our governments. But how does this affect us?

 

How do social media platforms control our data?

Social media data on phone

Social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are able to track users’ phone usage, location, and build up a profile of its customer, helping them target advertisements towards users at the time they are most likely to engage with them. This is obviously great for businesses who use the data to increase their reach, followers, website traffic and revenue. It’s also brilliant for users, with 91% of consumers saying they’re more likely to shop with brands who provide relevant offers and recommendations through targeted ads. But despite the benefits, this data can be also be used to build up a view of user’s information by social media companies, both personal and political.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal was an example of such a data breach, where 87 million Facebook users’ personal data was harvested through a third-party app. This data was used to target political advertisements, potentially contributing to voter decisions made in the US Presidential election and the Brexit vote. This shows exactly why governments across the globe have been concerned about the power of social media companies, as these kind of data breaches can be used to affect the democratic decisions of voters.

 

TikTok and China

TikTok on phone

As the potential political power of social media companies grow, the concern of governments also does hand in hand. This applies not just to data breaches, but some countries are worried about these companies working too closely with their governments.

As a Chinese app, there has been scepticism globally about the nature of TikTok’s relationship with the Chinese government. The app has been growing its user base, so some other governments are showing concerns about how they handle their data and whether this could be passed onto China. Along with security concerns about Huawei, who have recently been removed from the UK’s 5G network, Chinese technology companies are having to fight to prove their independence from their government. Despite this, governments are still concerned about TikTok, with India banning them and 38 other Chinese apps, and other countries like Australia and the US also considering a similar ban.

 

TikTok does seems like it is fighting back against the government however, with its recent exit from Hong Kong looking like an attempt at removing association with them. This happened after China introduced a new security law in Hong Kong, restricting the freedom of speech and potentially having a knock-on effect on the governance of social media. The law can even give police the power to seize the servers of any platform that refuses to take down a social media post, so it’s no surprise that TikTok is leaving the area.

Other social media platforms can also be seen to fight back against governments including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, who have said that they will ‘pause’ any requests for data information from governments whilst they review their legal position on the matter.

Despite this, it would be wrong to paint a picture of social media companies continuously fighting against their governments and legitimate data laws. Facebook typically works with law enforcement, although their current ‘pause’ does affect all of the network’s platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp.

 

The economic importance of social media advertising

social media on phone and laptop

One thing to remember however, is how important social media advertising is to both the global economy and the revenue of social media companies. With COVID-19 driving most businesses online, far more business is being conducted through social media than ever before. So, although governments are concerned about the power that this data gives social media companies, it seems unlikely that these companies would use this data irresponsibly, provoking data laws that may affect the high revenue they collect from advertising.

Similarly, with the growing importance on e-commerce and social media advertising, world governments are now relying on the economic prosperity that social media marketing will bring in the wake of COVID-19. This means that even if they don’t like the power that social media companies have from gathering data, they are now beginning to rely on them to use that data to fund their economies.

Given the stalemate between the two, social media companies should continue to act with integrity by protecting user data, and governments should implement effective regulations protecting this data whilst allowing these platforms to prosper. As a result, at Neoseven we believe that the positive economic effect social media has for businesses during these difficult times means that we should all continue to make the most of their services by advertising and purchasing online.

 

If you would like some advice on how to go about social media advertising, or maybe don’t know where to start, pop us an email or send us a message here.

 

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Guide to Social Media Marketing for Businesses – with free content calendar template

Understand the benefits of social media and how it can help your business grow.

Everyone uses social media for different reasons – Some people are just nosey; they never like, swipe, comment or share but they are on every social network. Others use social media as an outlet to showcase creativity, express opinions, beliefs and ideas, to socialise, for entertainment – the list goes on.

But why should businesses invest time and money in social media marketing? There are so many different networks, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat…. with new ones continuing to appear. How do you know which channels are right for your business and will generate the best Return on Investment (ROI?) And how do you build a winning social media marketing strategy that will work for your business model?

Many questions to answer, but we will address them in this blog. But first, let’s start with the basics.

WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING?

Social media marketing allows businesses to connect and interact with their target audience, build brand awareness and promote their products and services. This can be done using text, video, imagery, music, and graphics content which has to be designed to fit the platform, but most importantly can be tailored to different audiences.

However, pushing out personalised content is only beneficial if you have a plan, set goals, budgets, track and measure the results achieved. The strategy will vary based on the social networks your audience spend most of their time on.

Let’s take a look at the construct of some of the main networks:

Instagram logo_neosevenInstagram

1 billion users, made up primarily of millennials with a business to consumer (B2C) focus. Great for user generated content (UGC) and as an advertising platform.

facebook_neoseven Facebook

2.2 billion users, made up of Gen X and millennials with a B2C focus. Great for brand awareness and as an advertising platform.

twitter-neoseven Twitter

335 billion users, made up primarily of millennials with a  B2C and B2B focus. Great for customer service and PR.

linkedin_neosevenLinkedin

645 million users, made up of millennials, Gen X and Baby boomers with a B2B focus. Great for business development and building business relationships.

Pinterest_neosevenPinterest

250 million users, made up primarily of older millennials and baby boomers with a B2C focus. Great for creative inspiration and visual advertising.

youtube_neosevenYoutube

1.9 billion users, made up primarily of millennials and Gen Z with a B2C focus. Great for entertainment, brand awareness and knowledge sharing ‘how-to’ content.

tiktok_neosevenTikTok

800 million users, made up primarily of Gen Z and a surprisingly friendly place for B2C marketing. Great for promotion to niche communities and building brand trust.

snapchat_neosevenSnapchat

300 million users, made up primarily of Gen Z with a B2C focus. Great for advertising and brand awareness.

THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

Consider that there are now over 3 billion people globally using social media networks. More people have started following brands than celebrities, with over 80% of users following at least 1 brand on Instagram alone.

Here are a few reasons why your business should use social media marketing.

Neoseven_Brand-awarenessIncrease brand awareness

With almost half of the world’s population actively using social media platforms, it is a fast, effective and inexpensive way to reach new and targeted potential customers. It is proven that sharing branded content about your business, products and services improves brand awareness more quickly than traditional media.

It gets people looking at your brand even when they are not thinking about your brand, products or services.

Tip: Ensure the visual elements of your platforms are on brand and well represented.

Neoseven_lead generation

 

 

 

Lead generation

Over 60% of Instagrammers said that they have discovered new products on the platform and have clicked through to the website. Promoting your products and services on social platforms is a simple way to generate new leads, help with conversion and increase sales.

Many social platforms provide advertising formats designed specifically for lead generation advertising -, this is an important benefit for businesses. You can also sell products through your social platform by enabling Facebook or Insta Shop.

Tip: Ensure that there are links back to your website or products within your bio’s, profile and posts. Add a smart bio to your Instagram account using an app like tailwind to create a branded landing page that sends a stream of traffic to your website.

 

Neoseven_blog_trust

 

Builds trust and loyalty

One of the key benefits of social media is the ability to create real human connections, because consumers are more willing to purchase from brands they trust. Humanise your brand and show customers and potential customers who you are, what you stand for and how you are looking out for your customers and employees.

You can also show how existing customers are using, enjoying, and benefiting from your products and services. By connecting and engaging with your followers, responding to their questions and comments you’ll be able to build brand advocates and lasting relationships.

Tip: Ensure responses to questions and comments are genuine so followers don’t think they are talking to a robot. Show appreciation through giveaways, shout outs and re-posts 

Neoseven_blog_leadership

 

Establish thought leadership

We live in the information age and social media provides businesses with the opportunity to establish themselves as thought leaders – the go to source for information on specific industry related topics. This is also another way to build brand advocacy and trust which increases the lifetime value of your customers.

The more you use social media platforms to post, share or discuss relevant or trending topics, the more this will benefit organic search authority. Linkedin in particular is the social media platform that is designed to help businesses and professionals establish themselves as thought leaders.

Tip: Those with expert knowledge on particular topics should position themselves as the resident experts and post quality content on their professional profile and link that to their business profile. Establishing this link will indirectly connect people with your business.

 

CREATING A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

The first step in creating a social media strategy is understanding the business objectives and aligning the social media goals with them. Be sure to create metrics for measuring performance and the return on investment. Some important metrics are Awareness, Engagement and Conversion.

Categorise your audience and buyer personas

Understanding your target audience, from demographic information to hobbies, job status, and shopping preferences is key to creating a strategy and content that will appeal to them. For example, TAG Heuer has positioned itself as a luxury and innovative brand known for its beautiful designs, prestige and performance. Their main target audience consists of affluent individuals, between 35 and 54 from high-income groups.

With this information you will be able to create tailored content to attract your ideal customer, engage with then and convert them into sales. The rate of return on your social media and advertising spend will also increase by not wasting resources on consumers who are less likely to buy from you.

Identify your competition

Conduct an in-depth competitor analysis to identify who your main or direct competitors are. See what they are doing well (or badly) and learn from them, find opportunities or gaps in their offering that you can potentially fill. This data will help define your social media strategy and set more realistic goals.

Remember, after your competitor analysis you need to monitor what they are doing, what they are posting, where they are posting, level of engagement and what people are saying about them. Equip yourself with a social media management tool like Hootsuite to monitor hashtags, keywords and social accounts in real time. This will provide vital information to allow you to adjust your strategy if necessary.

Conduct a social audit

With over 3 billion social media users globally and multiple social platforms, it is important to ensure you are using the ones that are best suited for your business and target audience. Otherwise there will be some holes in your strategy and you will be at risk of wasting time and money. Conducting a social media audit will help you determine which social networks your target audiences use and by extension which ones you should focus your efforts on. Also you will identify their content preferences and what type of content is and isn’t working.

You can go even deeper to get a more complete picture and examine traditional metrics including:

  • Number of followers
  • Average response rates and response times (likes, shares, comments)
  • Click through rate
  • Average number of video views
  • Post reach (impressions)
  • Mentions, reposts and re-tweets

After completing the social media audit, you should check that the content (video, photo and text) is aligned with your brand guidelines and there is consistency and quality control across all your channels.

Neoseven_contentCreate a content calendar 

The content you create and share with you followers is important, but having content pillars and a schedule for when you will post to get maximum impact is essential. The content pillars help when creating content; what graphic, image or video to use and what to say. For example, for a brand that sells designer shorts, the pillars could be to promote:

  • Health and fitness
  • Brand building
  • Product features
  • Fashion

Now that you have your talking points, you can get creative when designing your content. The next step is to build a calendar to detail the message and supporting image or video, what days and time of day you will post, what channels you will be posting on, the KPI for each post (i.e. drive traffic to the site, brand awareness, trigger conversation, promotional etc). If you are just launching your social media channels your focus should be to educate, inform and entertain your audience and to raise the profile and awareness of your brand.

You may be thinking that this is a lot and posting on multiple platforms can be a nightmare. There are a few social media management tools (Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Buffer) that will allow you to write captions, hashtags, add images, videos and links for your posts. Then simply select the future date and time you want them to be published and you can carry on with your day.

 

Analysis and reporting

The algorithms that govern how each social network sorts and displays the content of each user are based on relevancy and not based on the time published. They also prioritise which post a user sees in their feed or story first by the likelihood that they will want to see it. Therefore, defining your social media KPI’s will allow you to determine if what you are doing is working or needs refining to achieve the desired results. Each social network provides analytics functions which can be used to generate reports on Reach, Likes, Follows, Impressions, Tags, Mentions, Shares, Profile Visits. Looking through multiple reports can be time consuming and also tedious, we recommend producing a reporting template where all the metrics that are needed for decision making can be made easily accessible.

Your social media strategy should be a live document that is visible to the team so they are aware of what’s happening and can work together to achieve the social and business goals.

Enter your details and we will email you a download link to access a free social media content calendar template.

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Why is sustainable marketing important now more than ever?

What is sustainable marketing?

Sustainability is about continuity, adopting behaviours and practises to ensure that the planet is inhabitable, and resources are available for future generations. In much the same way, sustainable marketing is about longevity, swapping short-term gain for long-term success.

33% of consumers see brands as responsible for the environment

Sustainable marketing involves not only your products, but your brand’s image and strategy. Responsibility and accountability for social and environmental issues are becoming common values that most customers expect brands to display. Addressing environmental and social issues in your brand and finding sustainable alternatives is a great way to do your bit. However, your business should be aware of what it takes to achieve a fully sustainable business model and be ready to commit. It takes more than just aligning your brand with a topical issue.

Social and environmental issues exist over longer timeframes than most campaigns. These issues are not seasonal and as such need to be incorporated into a long-term plan. It is unreasonable to expect a brand to immediately shift to 100% sustainable sourcing, manufacturing and delivery of products. Customers understand that meaningful change takes time. So…

Neoseven Marketing - Set GoalsSet objectives and goals

By creating a set of goals that detail what you want your brand to accomplish you are communicating honesty and authenticity to your customers, whilst keeping yourself accountable. This means being honest with what your business can afford to change, it may require a short-term loss to fully adopt new sustainable practices which will lead to long-term gain (e.g. switching to 100% recycled packaging).

61% of consumers are more likely to switch to a brand that is more environmentally friendly 

 

Neoseven Marketing - ConsistencyBe consistent

Be specific about what your brand is doing to be sustainable. One aspect of your brand may be sustainable, but you need to take accountability for what is not, or what needs work. This will avoid harsh scrutiny and negative social media posts damaging your reputation, ensuring customers see your brand as an active figure in addressing a social and environmental issue.

60% of consumers find authenticity to be the most appealing quality of their favourite brands

 

Neoseven Marketing - strategyCreate a long-term marketing strategy

Through long-term, thought out strategies, sustainable marketing can result in higher value products, successful sales and loyal customers. A sustainable marketing strategy will allow you time to establish your business and maintain sales without reverting to fads. This is what Kevin Roberts, previous CEO of Saatchi&Saatchi called ‘Lovemarks’ – loyalty beyond reason. This involves moving beyond transactional consumption to create an emotional dynamic between consumers and brands. Long-term success is built on principles. This means no repeated discounts, clickbait or hidden T&Cs. These short-term techniques diminish your brand’s value and lose you returning customers.

Neoseven Marketing - CSRDeliver your plan responsibly

It is important to remember marketing has a carbon footprint too. Ensure that printed campaigns, billboards and flyers are not created from materials that are treated with harmful or un-recyclable elements. Prioritise digital marketing by communicating with targeted advertising, social media, blogs, newsletters and email marketing. Not only will regular social media and inbound marketing improve your SEO, but tailoring your messages to your customers, showing them relevant, quality content will increase brand value, authenticity and humanise its messages – attracting loyal customers that support your brand.

 

If you are ready for your brand to take the next step and embark on a sustainable marketing strategy for long-term success, contact neoseven today for a free consultation.

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How to work from home whilst maintaining your work ethic and creativity

With the current circumstances finding a lot of us now working from home, it’s a difficult transition period for many who normally work in a busy office. Our team has been using a variety of different methods to keep up morale, as well as ways to make sure our marketing creativity is still flowing despite working from home in different locations.

We asked each of our employees what they have been doing to stay bright, bubbly and upbeat during these trying times.

 

remote working

Olando

I have worked from home for many years now and even though it was only one or two days a week, I realised that I had to separate my personal and work spaces. Working in my bedroom or TV room started affecting me relaxing in those spaces, so I set up a space at my house that I only use for work. Now I can watch a movie or go to bed without thinking about work.

I also found that when I first started to work from home I didn’t really come out until the end of the day. I started getting aches and pains all over my body, now I ensure I take regular breaks and walks around the house and stretch regularly. I have even set aside 15 minutes every day to do a bit of meditation to clear my head, it really helps me complete my work day and spreads over into my personal time.

Finally I set a start and end time. It is easy to start work as soon as you jump out of bed or respond to emails while having dinner, but that does not mean it is a healthy habit. If your work and personal time merge into one it makes it more difficult for your mind to truly switch off and enjoy your personal time.

 

working from home tips

Gemma

I think one of the key things for me when I work from home is daylight, it really helps to prevent tiredness, plus looking out the window every so often is a great way to avoid headaches. Obviously we’re not talking to people in person so making time for small screen breaks is really helpful when you’re working by yourself.

I also try to move where I work every so often. Sometimes I work at my desk in my room, and when I find that I’m feeling claustrophobic I’ll move to the kitchen table. Some people may not be able to do this because of family at home, but if you’re used to working in a loud environment then you know methods to drown people out, I know I do! I find that moving around just helps me feel like I haven’t been in the same room every day all week, it definitely increases my work ethic and makes me feel less lethargic.

Regular breaks are also so important when you work from home. Sometimes you can think that being away from your desk means that you’re slacking, but making time to go speak to your family, play with your dog or make a cup of tea for 5-10 minutes throughout the day recharges your batteries more than you realise.

 

working from home tips

Ellie

I try to keep as much of my normal routine as possible when I work from home; waking up at the same time, keeping business hours and having routines such as breaks, lunch hours, ending the day at 5:30 as usual.

Getting outside is also really important. Not always for a walk but just stepping out into the garden or getting some fresh air through the house is a nice way of taking a moment for yourself and staying alert. A key thing for me is also remembering that social distancing doesn’t mean social detachment. Keeping in touch with colleagues and friends, having catch ups over tea and doing Zoom pub quizzes and weekly catch ups to replace usual chats and work socials.

I also try not to look at the news too much. Being constantly bombarded by negative news surrounding Covid, memes about Covid and most conversations about Covid is a bit much and really impacts my mood. I’ve been avoiding those topics during the day and maybe just watching the headlines every couple days to stay informed but not overwhelmed.

working from home tips

Ruhi

I find that it’s really important to sit somewhere that allows you to work from home as if you’re in the office – with a table and a chair that I can put my laptop and notebooks on. Wherever I am, I try to allow as much air as possible by opening the windows or doors, depending on how cold it is! This allows me to get into the right frame of mind so that I can focus properly on the work that I am doing.

To work from home can mean that the lines between when to work and rest get blurred, so I find having a set schedule really helps. This way, I can take regular breaks and properly switch off when I am done for the day. When I’m taking a break, it can be nice to do some exercise. Trying to keep active helps you to move around so you aren’t just sitting in one spot all day. It also helps to have a cup of tea handy throughout!

 

 

 

There we have it! Neoseven team tips to stay alert, creative, on top of things and most importantly to care for our mental wellbeing whilst we work from home. If you have any more tips on this topic, feel free to share them with us!

Stay safe everyone!

For any further advice, why not ask over a cup of coffee? Give us a ring.

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How to align your content with your marketing strategy (infographic)

A substantial number of marketing professionals and small businesses make some incredible content; it’s visually appealing, engaging to read and overall hits the mark. The common problem is that quite a few people are pushing out this content without much rhyme or reason. The content can be great, but if you don’t have a strategy in place, not only will it not help you reach your goals as a business, but it is unlikely to be reaching the right audience.

A widespread misconception about content marketing is that it can be impossible to track ROI. Yes, it can sometimes be difficult to measure and some businesses don’t measure it at all, however by aligning your content to your strategy and putting appropriate KPIs in place, it becomes significantly easier to see that return on your investment.

We have therefore compiled a five-step process for you to follow in order to ensure that you are pushing out content that is relevant to your audience and allowing you to reach your objectives.

 

content strategy infographic

 

 

STEP 1: IDENTIFY YOUR OVERALL KPIs

Your KPIs are your Key Performance Indicators, which measure the successes of your content in accordance with your annual goals. Before you create any content, you should be identifying what your overall KPIs are for the year. By doing this, you will begin to understand what messages you should be pushing out to your audience that will help you achieve your main objectives.

 

STEP 2: ESTABLISH YOUR MONTHLY GOALS

Once you know what your overall goals are for the year, figuring out what content to post on a daily basis can be quite daunting. It’s much more helpful to establish your monthly goals, breaking down what you need to achieve for the year into smaller, more achievable targets that you can build your content strategy around. 12 hills are easier to climb than one mountain.

 

STEP 3: SET YOUR METHODS

Now that you know what you need to achieve, the next step is to establish what methods you will use in order to reach your goals. What type of content should you be pushing out across your platforms that will take you closer to where you need to be by the end of the month? Are you going to focus more on website content, social media, paid advertising, video, all of the above?

 

STEP 4: PLAN PLAN PLAN

This part seems self-explanatory, but a very surprising number of businesses and marketing professionals do not plan their marketing strategy – particularly content marketing. By creating a content calendar and aligning it with your goals every month, you are creating your own road map to reaching your targets, ensuring that you are covering every basis.

 

STEP 5: GO FORTH AND CREATE

Now that you have your road-map, you are free to forth and create your content. Take original photographs, use design platforms like Adobe Suite, write blogs and create videos. If you stick by your strategy, use your content calendar and stay in line with your KPIs, you will be on your way to success.

 

For any further advice, why not ask over a cup of coffee? Give us a ring.

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A/B testing: the benefits to your business

 

Your business is about creating value for your customers, turning them into advocates for repeat business. The greater the value, the better the chances your business will be successful.

Data consumption has evolved, and we don’t always put out the type of content that will attract and motivate consumers to purchase. Measuring the ROI created by your marketing and advertising campaigns is as much a challenge as running the business itself.

Fortunately, through the use of A/B testing businesses can now not only store and analyse data, but make more informed decisions about their marketing and advertising campaigns.

What is A/B testing?

It is comparing different versions of an online or offline campaign to determine which generates better results. For example, the images, headline text and call to action used on a landing page on your website, promotional flyer or Google PPC ad.

The data collected from this approach will help you determine which campaign consumers reacted to more favourably. You will then be able to create more engaging content that will appeal to your target audience.

 

Some of the key benefits of A/B testing

1. Improved Content Engagement

Launching two versions of a campaign will provide key insights into what type of content attracts more interaction and conversions from your customers. A lot of time, money and resources are used in understanding your target audiences, researching and creating content that will turn them into customers. However, this investment can seem wasteful if it does not generate the expected results. By experimenting with your content through A/B testing you will be able to tailor and improve your content for better engagement.

 

2. Reduced Bounce Rates

Responsive design, layout, user journey, imagery, tracking tools, SEO tactics and Google PPC campaigns and much more, all done to get people to your website. It can be disheartening when visitors just “bounce” from your site without spending any time reviewing your content.

If this is happening to you, it’s time to look into optimisation via A/B testing. Look at the headlines, support images, call to action and other elements on your pages, the direct comparison performed with A/B testing will help you find a winning combination of elements that keeps visitors on your site long enough to provide them with value from your content which may ultimately lead to a sale.

 

3. Increased Conversion Rates

A/B testing is one of the easiest and most effective way of creating content that converts more visitors. Take the time to carefully craft two versions of your campaign to see what works and what doesn’t. Testing two versions does take a little longer, but when done properly will help convert more leads into sales.

 

4. Ease of Analysis

One of the best things about A/B testing is that it is quick and easy to analyse the results and determine the clear winner. Try this simple metrics on an A/B test of your website landing pages (time spent on page, conversions, sign ups, downloads etc.)

 

5. Increased Sales

One of the most important benefit for businesses is A/B testing can help increase sales. With fewer bounce rates, better customer engagement, more customer conversion all lead to increased sales for your business.

Your business is unique and has USP’s that make it stand out from your competition. Using A/B testing to experiment with marketing those characteristics to find the ideal combination for your customers not only provides them with better experiences, but it also instils trust and confidence in your brand, product, service and business. When visitors begin to trust your company because of the value you provide, increased sales and loyal customers are a natural result.

For any further advice, why not ask over a cup of coffee? Give us a ring.

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