Posts Tagged ‘communications’

Top tips for killer content

Whenever you spend time writing something – whether it’s a blog post, a newsletter or even a tweet – it’s an opportunity. An opportunity to get a message across, an opportunity to reach out to a dormant client or an opportunity to connect with someone new. Don’t let the opportunity be wasted!

  1. Before you start writing, ask yourself: What am I trying to achieve with this communication? Who am I trying to reach?
  2. When you know who you’re targeting, keep them in mind while you’re writing. You would speak differently to a business contact than you would to your friends and equally you should write differently for students than you would for lawyers, for example.
  3. Start well! We all have busy lives and won’t waste time reading something that doesn’t draw you in.
  4. Please, drop the jargon. It doesn’t make you sound clever – it just isolates the reader. Write clearly and simply.
  5. Make it interesting! If it’s a tweet, will it stand out from thousands of others sent at the same time? If it’s a newsletter article, could you tell your story through an individual to bring it to life?
  6. Keep it concise. Realistically, who is going to read a blog post that goes on for thousands of words?
  7. Break it up. A big chunk of text can be overwhelming and put readers off so use sub headings to make it more digestible.
  8. When you think you’ve finished, read back over it. Then read back over it again. If you send out a professional communication littered with errors, it could have the opposite effect to the one you want.

How to… use Pinterest for business

Social media site Pinterest is the flavour of the month. One glance at the home page and it’s instantly obvious why it has become such a big hit. Its pages are adorned with endless stylish, beautiful images perfect for planning a wedding or kitting out your new house. No doubt it’s lovely to look at, but are there any business applications…?

There seems to be a blog being posted every minute about Pinterest right now and I am a member of the wonderful Let’s Talk Here group on LinkedIn where members have been posting some great articles sharing ideas about using Pinterest for business. I have also used it myself for a brainstorming session at a design agency and found it inspirational. At a recent social media training session I held at a law firm, I mentioned Pinterest purely as a scene setter but the lawyers were full of fabulous ideas about how they could use it.

How does it work?

Pinterest is billed as an ‘online pinboard’. You have to apply to be invited, then once you receive your invitation, set up an account simply by logging in through either your Twitter or Facebook account. Set up as many or as few boards as you like and start pinning! You can choose to either ‘repin’ pictures that other people have posted on there or download the ‘pinmarklet’ to your browser enabling you to pin images from any website you look at (although some, including Flickr, have chosen to opt out for copyright reasons). When you click on an image that is pinned on Pinterest, you can click through to the original website. Pinterest is now driving more traffic to websites than big names including Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace.

Some ideas for using it for your business:

  1. Use it as a showroom – Pinterest seems to have been colonised by crafters early on and they are making great use of it by showcasing their products. Have a peak at Craft Magazine‘s boards to see how they are being used. Photographers can make fantastic use of it in this way too.
  2. Bring your brand and values to life – US company Whole Foods was one of the first to embrace Pinterest and its Pinterest page is packed with tempting imagery of food and also pictures that reflect their values – using organic food and caring for the environment, for example. (See Social media news blog Mashable’s article for more on this). Have a look at how big names including Starbucks and The Guardian are using it.
  3. Use it as a mood board – One of Pinterest’s strongest selling points is the imagery that people are sharing – gorgeous, stylish pictures of interiors, holiday destinations and products they love. When creating a new brand at a design agency last week, the designer and I spent time using Pinterest to inspire us and pin images that worked for the brand. Now we have a great way to visually communicate our ideas to the client.
Check out this article for even more inspiration about how you can use Pinterest.
If you are interested in following my boards, then click here for my Pinterest page.
How are you using Pinterest for your business? I would love to hear some of your ideas!

Get your LinkedIn summary right

In January 2012, I reached 200 connections on LinkedIn and decided to mark this milestone by offering some advice on how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile. Or, more specifically, the summary section at the top.

I went through the LinkedIn profile of every one of my 200 connections to see how they were using this opportunity so that I could share some tips on how to write the best summary and common mistakes to avoid.

I was shocked to discover that 79 of the 200 profiles (now, I’m no mathematician but that’s over a third… I think!) had no summary at all. If someone turned to you in the elevator of elevator pitch fame and asked you what you did, would you just stand there with your mouth closed? To me, that’s the exact equivalent! You are being given an amazing opportunity to sell yourself and, by extension, the company you work for, to anyone who happens to view your profile – why wouldn’t you take it?

Top 5 most common mistakes

  1. Misuse of apostrophe in ’10 years’ experience’ – most people use no apostrophe at all, someone had written ’10 years’ of experience’ (the ‘of’ makes the apostrophe obsolete) and I even saw ’10 year’s experience’.
  2. SME’s – SMEs should not have an apostrophe.
  3. Lead rather than led – eg ‘customer lead solutions’and ‘I have lead’.
  4. X company name provide (rather than provides) – a company is singular – imagine saying ‘the company provides’ instead.
  5. 1990’s – there shouldn’t be an apostrophe in this, or 90s etc.

Top 5 over used words

When you read 200 profiles in a row, you start to notice the same words cropping up again and again. If you want your profile to stand out, consider avoiding the following:

  1. Passion or passionate
  2. Key (as in key clients)
  3. Creative thinker
  4. Bespoke
  5. Engage or engaging

Top 5 typos

Please proofread your profile before you publish it! Or, if you don’t feel confident enough to do it, I’ll be happy to look at it for you. The worst mistakes I spotted were:

  1. Breif
  2. Prvate sector
  3. Marketting
  4. Hamds on work
  5. Piece of mind

What makes a great LinkedIn summary?

After having studied so many LinkedIn profiles, the ones that stood out for me were:

  • Concise – Any more than three short paragraphs is too much – some of the best ones were just one, very succinct paragraph.
  • Clear – If you do something technical, try to avoid using jargon that people won’t understand. If you do two very different jobs, try and keep them separate and consider explaining how they fit together or how you moved from one industry into the other.
  • Full of personality – People buy from people and the summaries I remember gave a real flavour of the person who was being described. And make sure you describe yourself here, not your company – there’s plenty of space for that further down.
  • Up-to-date – If you changed jobs, don’t forget to update your profile.

Remember – this could be your big chance to make a great impression – grab the opportunity with both hands! If you want any advice about writing a stand-out LinkedIn profile, please get in touch on fiona@wordsbyfionakyle.co.uk and, to see how else I can help, please visit my website.

LinkedIn summary

An example of a LinkedIn profile including summary

Twitter – what I have learned

Recently, several contacts have asked me for help with social media, Twitter in particular. I have a few workshops booked with old and new clients  to help them make the most of this fantastic marketing tool.

I don’t claim to be an expert and this is not really a service that I market. However, I have won quite a bit of business through my Twitter account and people are just curious to know how I did it. So I thought I’d tell you!

Get involved

Unless you are a multinational company or celebrity that people will actively search for, there’s no point setting up a Twitter account if you don’t tell people you are on there. Shout it from the rooftops! Link it to your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts (although I would advise using different updates for each platform – see below). Get involved with conversations – it doesn’t have to be relevant to what you do, you just need people to know you are there and start talking to you. The more people who start following you, the more chance you have of your messages getting ‘retweeted’ (click here for glossary) and reaching a larger audience. If people like you and enjoy interacting with you, they may suggest other people follow you by using the #FollowFriday hashtag. And, don’t forget, you can learn as much – if not more – from a competitor as you can a potential client.

Share, share, share…

This so important – the more knowledge you share on Twitter (and indeed all social media), the more value you add for your followers and the more you will get back. It’s a fantastic opportunity to place yourself as an expert so, even though it can feel unnatural to give away all your trade secrets, give people information that will genuinely help them. And help out other ‘tweeps’ by retweeting interesting and useful information that they have shared.

…don’t sell, sell, sell

Limit the amount of overt selling of your services that you do on Twitter. That’s not what it’s there for. It is for building relationships so that when someone is looking for the service you offer, you are already in their heads. Just like real life networking should be. I know some people who will stop following you immediately if you publish a sales tweet. Personally, I think it’s ok in small doses every now and then – especially if you have a new service or special offer to promote.

Target your communications

Before you write a tweet (or any kind of communication) have a quick think about what you are trying to achieve. If you’re looking for business then think very carefully before sharing any personal information that might put potential clients off. And swearing is a bit of a no-no in the Twitter business community, it looks unprofessional. There are applications which let you write one message to update several platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc) but I would advise against this as all three have quite different audiences and tones of voice. Also, it can get pretty annoying having your newsfeed on LinkedIn full of someone’s tweets about the weekend.

Little and often

People often ask me how often they should tweet, worried about how much time it might take. There is no definitive answer but as with everything concerning Twitter, the more you put in, the more you get back. Try and tweet a few times a day and keep an eye on your @mentions (people who have mentioned you) and respond to them fairly quickly. Twitter moves on so quickly that conversations can soon feel stilted and out of date. It really is not a time-consuming thing to do and it is a very low-cost way (just your time) to get your messages out there.

Make lists

Something I have only started doing relatively recently is to use the list function. I follow over 1,000 people and it is impossible to read everything. So, I have created lists for people I want to keep an eye on for one reason or another – clients, potential clients, local businesses, PR agencies and journalists for example, all useful for my business.

Most of all, be yourself

It is very difficult keeping up a persona other than your own. Just be yourself. Professional, yes, but not overly corporate if you want to build up relationships. One of the best things about Twitter is you can meet people who will become genuine friends – I have been lucky enough to meet clients like this on it. It’s fine to chat about X Factor or whatever conversations take your fancy (often The Wire in my case!). Just always keep in mind that you are representing your business. So have fun, enjoy it and make some friends!

A tale of two coffee shops

Picture the scene: York station 8.30am Friday 7 October. It’s FREEZING and the unseasonable 29 degrees from earlier in the week is long gone. A steady stream of shivering commuters. Two coffee shops.

The first coffee shop has posters of an ice cool drink trying to entice customers with a slogan using the words ‘summer coolers’. The second has a blackboard outside it with pictures of autumn leaves and the slogan ‘Settle back in’, a picture of a mug of warm frothy coffee and then the words ‘Perfect for right now’.

Which coffee shop would you go into?

I not only went into the second one, I bought the very drink pictured on the blackboard – it looked and sounded too good to turn down.

See how powerful marketing can be? Five days earlier, the temperature had been sky high and I’m sure a ‘summer cooler’ was exactly what everyone wanted. But not that morning and one of the outlets was quick enough to adapt their marketing.

Another example of how this unpredictable weather has caught out a company with their marketing campaign is a flyer I received through the door from a holiday company promising ‘winter warmers’ when it was almost 30 degrees in Yorkshire. I was quite warm enough thanks! The flyer went straight in the bin.

So when you’re planning a marketing campaign, make sure it is relevant not ony to its audience but to the climate in which they will receive it. Be sensitive when you’re offering expensive goods during these difficult economic times. Don’t send a newsletter out to your employees celebrating success if there has just been an unemployment announcement. Every single piece of communication should be targeted – from a newsletter to a blog to a tweet. I wrote this blog on Friday night, for example, but who would read it then? So I held it back to publish on Monday.

If you’re planning a marketing campaign and would like some advice, please drop me an email on fiona@wordsbyfionakyle.co.uk

If you build it (and tweet about it) they will come – tourist attractions and social media

The Yorkshire Dales

When I first launched Words by Fiona Kyle, I contacted several local tourist attractions who weren’t yet making use of social media to let them know that I was available to help if they needed me.

I had a reply from a representative of one of them who invited me in for a chat, with the proviso: “I am rather sceptical about Facebook and Twitter”.

To ensure I didn’t waste this precious opportunity, I set about researching local tourist attractions who were using social media and also asking advice from marketing experts. What I discovered was so fascinating, I wanted to share it here.

To start with, I was given feedback by some wonderful people (all relationships forged through Twitter) working for very different Yorkshire attractions.

Jill Murray of Kilnsey Park and Trout Farm  is a relatively recent convert to Twitter and still developing a Facebook presence. However, she quickly realised the value of Twitter, saying: “We started using social media as it seemed to be an invaluable opportunity to speak to the people we want to contact. Suddenly we have a potentially huge audience of both visitors and people within the tourism industry which is amazing! We’re absolutely delighted with the results so far.”

Amy Ball, Acting Curator of Craven Museum and Gallery, added: “When our new website launched in September 2010 (with a link to our Facebook page) the referrals were high. The first four or five months, Facebook was our second most popular referral site. From a search engine optimisation point of view, having as much web presence as possible is also of obvious huge benefit. Google now searches Twitter and it was this that prompted me to set up the museum’s Twitter account.  When the museum launched our Shakespeare First Folio exhibition it was covered by BBC York. They tweet all of their news stories and because of the Shakespeare hashtag, the article link was retweeted by the Shakespeare Folger Library in Washington DC! I saw this as a new resource for connecting with other museums, similar businesses and people who did not know about the museum in Skipton.”

Most tourist attractions are now really jumping on the bandwagon – the West Midlands Safari Park, for example, rates social media so highly that they have hired a new member of staff purely to handle it for them.

So that’s the attractions themselves but what do Yorkshire’s finest marketing experts have to say about the importance of social media for the tourism industry? I posted a question on the Yorkshire Mafia’s LinkedIn discussion board to find out.

Ian Shepherd, of Graft Marketing, contacted me to say: “Marketing through social media is not about sales the following day, it’s about positioning yourself so that when people are looking for places to visit, you’re in their head. It’s all about building relationships – you can serve your visitors better by better understanding them. It is a wonderful way to get into conversations with your customers.”

Mark Longbottom, of social media consultancy Design58, agreed: “The return on investment is in the relationship and how the tourist attractions, by understanding their audience, can better understand how to serve them. I have clients who run restaurants, night clubs and creative ventures, to just touch the iceberg of who may benefit. All have had value added by being able to talk to their audience, talking is the most important aspect, not technology. Talking will go on and this is just a more effective way to converse where able.”

I have thoroughly enjoyed this exercise and met some fascinating and lovely people. I am a true believer in social media and its value as a marketing tool whatever industry you are working in. Thanks to everyone who got in touch to share their experiences.

Never underestimate the power of words

Jenny (right), the girls, babies and their GUMIGEMs

I’m proud to welcome Jenny McLaughlan of GUMIGEM, the original UK teething necklace. Jenny has written a fascinating guest blog about the importance of communication for a small business.

As a new business with limited finance to spend on advertisements, I rely heavily on the use of social media, editorials and the content of my site to get my message heard. It is only since discovering Words by Fiona Kyle I have finally recognised the value in taking time and thought around this area. I know it sounds daft, of course you should be careful and thoughtful about what and how you communicate, but as a small enterprise it can be a real struggle. With so many things to juggle, you just tweet, post, update your site and send emails without really considering what they are saying!

One challenge is that you think as you write and although you’re sending out the right message and informing people about your products, sometimes when you have a product and a business that you know inside out, your communications have a certain level of assumed knowledge in them without even realising you’re doing it. So when you think you’re being clear about how to enter a competition or indeed certain key points about your product, it is vital to get another pair of eyes to have a look. They don’t have that same insider knowledge and can quickly assess and identify gaps in your communication. An example I would give of this is my first ever batch of flyers which had the words ‘for mum to wear…. and baby to enjoy!’ What does that mean? Well to me it made sense, but in actual fact to everybody else it did not! It did not tell anyone what the product actually was.

Social media has been the main source of attracting customers to my site, and this too needs careful thought. On Twitter you are limited to just 140 characters, something I personally find so difficult as I always have a lot to say! So how do you get something that is punchy but also interesting? The aim is to engage people and encourage them to follow you, visit your site and ideally become a customer. That’s a lot to achieve in just 140 characters. Talk too much about your own business and you put people off, focus on more personal issues and you don’t get them making a trip to your site. So getting the balance right is key and this is something I am still learning about! The way we do business is changing as technology advances. This has many advantages as it frees up our time as we are able to engage and reach customers far faster than the traditional way of having to seek out face to face engagements. The disadvantage is that the words we choose and how we communicate, just like first impressions, last. They build up your personality and send people a message about who you are and what you are about. So never underestimate the power of words.

For me I am very guilty of being rushed, this means you don’t pay as much attention to the detail as you should. Newsletters with spelling mistakes and poor grammar just send out the wrong message and can look so unprofessional. Another reason for just taking a step back once in a while and asking for someone to give it the once over, it may be frustrating you have to wait another day to get that exciting newsletter out there, but then at least it’s right, looks professional and will have more impact.

It’s a learning curve and like all things in life, we won’t get it right all of the time. Some people like Coke and others Pepsi, some will like your chosen style of communication, others won’t. But as a business you want to aim for communication that has interest, impact and is heard and not drowned out by all the other tweets, posts and websites out there. So my lesson and one I am still very much learning is that what we say and how we say it is as important to a business as the products we sell. Without the right words and communication, we won’t succeed.

Thanks so much Jenny for your guest blog and a really interesting insight into getting your message heard as a new, small business. For more information about GUMIGEM visit http://www.gumigem.co.uk or email sales@gumigem.co.uk

If you want to chat about how to get your message out there, please drop me a line on fiona@wordsbyfionakyle.co.uk