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Digital Marketing during Lockdown

Is it right to do digital marketing during lockdown to promote yourself and your business? Yes. If you do it sensitively and with empathy. What channels should you use? What approaches to digital marketing should you take?

The lockdown is a massive challenge for everyone

The lockdown is a massive challenge for everyone, especially freelancers, the self-employed, and SMEs/SMBs who might have had to furlough staff (not to mention those with children at home and teenagers back early from university). Some people will have had to change the way they work and adapt to working from home. I’ve been working from home for the last 5+ years, so that’s less of an issue. However, we’ve all had to adopt a new routine to a greater or lesser extent.

My heart goes out to you if you’ve lost business due to the lockdown, or had to close altogether. You have my sympathy and empathy. For those of you that are carrying on regardless – business as usual, albeit working from home – then more power to you.

Some businesses will have been siginificantly busier because of the lockdown

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, as the saying goes. Some businesses will have been siginificantly busier because of the lockdown. I’m thinking of bike shops here, as people like me who haven’t ridden a bike for years decide to get some fresh air and exercise during our one hour’s allowed outdoor exercise time. Home gym and fitness equipment will have seen a massive upswing. IT and tech too in the first weeks of the enforced lockdown. Employees worked from home for the first time and rushed to buy laptops, monitors, external keyboards collaborative software and VPNs. Lots of people bought comfortable, more relaxed WFH clothing too. Suits and smart casual attire has been swapped for loungewear and athleisure hoodies and jogging bottoms.

How you can use marketing to your advantage, sensitively

I’d like to share some advice and tips with you for how you can use digital marketing during lockdown to your advantage. Sensitively, and with empathy. Together we can emerge stronger when some semblance of normality is restored. Or, whatever the new “normal” is, anyway.

Digital Marketing during a pandemic

As my friends and colleagues at the digital marketing agency Limelight have said, many businesses are faced with a stark choice at the moment:

During these crazy times we have noticed one of two dynamics…

  1. Stop everything, cut marketing budgets as not sure when this will end.

  2. We need to be prepared for when this does end so we’re in the strongest position both online and offline.

If you’ve had to stop altogether then, again, you have my sympathy. I hope to see you and work with you again in the near future.

However, if you’re carrying on with “business as usual”, or trying to establish yourself in a new marketplace or with a different business model, then you will still need marketing activities.

Don’t take your foot off the accelerator

Limelight go on to say:

Just now, many of your competitors are reducing their marketing budgets and have put any marketing plans on hold, which means you may be able to get ahead! Think of it like the hare taking a break while in the lead only to let the tortoise win the race with dedicated effort. Don’t take your foot off the accelerator unless you have to.

Of course, a lot of businesses are simply not able to invest due to lost revenue and if that’s the case then simply skip this tip. However, for everyone else, this is extremely important. If you are in a position to do so, now is the time to gain a competitive advantage in the months and years to come. You need to be thinking ahead rather than focusing on the now.

You can read more tips on the Limelight website.

Is it ethical to market yourself and your business right now?

Some people have even questioned the ethics of marketing your business during a pandemic, asking if it’s at all appropriate to focus on marketing during the current situation. Leaving the morals and ethics aside, what can you do to keep your business going and ensure that you’re ready to hit the ground running when lockdown is lifted?

Digital Marketing channels

You can use a number of different channels and techniques to market your business. Online is especially important and effective now. More so than ever. SEO, social media and Google search (organic search rankings, Google Ads PPC, Google MyBusiness and Local Search) are your main digital marketing tools.

What approach should I take?

Whatever channel you use, there’s agreement that you should approach communications and digital marketing during lockdown sensitively. You can do this in a number of ways. These are:

  • Show empathy – we’re all in this together. Showing the human side of your business is a good idea. Be kind. Always.
  • Solve problems or provide a service – offer advice and solutions to problems rather than concentrate on the “hard sell”.
  • Offer businesses a lifeline – go above and beyond. Service your existing clients. Make them feel valued and show appreciation that they’ve stuck with you. Perhaps even offer your services at a discount or for free if you can afford to do so.
  • Spread the love – show appreciation for other businesses and individuals who are doing great work. This especially applies to sole traders, freelancers and the self-employed, and SMEs/SMBs who may benefit most from a shout out and a positive review. Give something back. Pay things forwards.
  • Brand awareness – one day this will all be over. Make sure that you’re in the forefront of people’s minds when things get back to something like normal. Again, ditch the hard sell though.
  • Reinforce expertise and thought leadership – use LinkedIn and the other social media channels to communicate with people. Like, Comment and Share other people’s Posts and Tweets. Post relevant industry and sector news. Share good news stories. See “Spread the love”. Social media is the ideal place to do this. If you haven’t got the time to do it yourself then get a freelancer to do it for you.
  • Network – face-to-face networking in real life isn’t possible at the moment, of course. However, many networking groups are taking to Zoom for virtual meetings. Keep in touch with your existing networking contacts, and check in with them. You might even make some new ones. I’ve had my first ever Zoom networking group meeting this week. I made new connections and even gained new business. It works, even if you’re not sure that it’s for you.

Those are just some ways you can market yourself and your business without being crass or overly commercial. I hope that it helps you and your business take advantage of digital marketing during lockdown. Stay safe, stay well and stay home. See you on the other side.

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Blog

Protect your Twitter account from Hackers, Twerps, Twolls & Twats

Good v Bad Twitter Followers
Good v Bad Twitter Followers

In a previous post I mentioned my Twop Twitter Twips for Tweeps. In this post, I’m going to make some recommendations for how to protect your Twitter account from Hackers, Twerps, Twolls & Twats.

Sooner of later, successful Twitter accounts become victims of their own popularity. When you stick your head above the parapet someone will try and shoot you. The same applies to social media. The more popular you become the more followers you attract. This makes you more visible and tempting to potential hackers, spammers, trolls and the downright twatty.

These anti-social media accounts can be all sorts of varying degrees of annoying and nasty, varying from the mildly time-consuming and distracting troll or hater, to the out-and-out nefarious hacker. Dealing with them can become a ball-ache of Buster Gonad-sized proportions, unless you take some sensible precautions.

Basic steps to protect your Twitter account

Basic steps to protect your Twitter account include:

  1. Create Strong Passwords
  2. Use Login Verifications
  3. Watch Out for Phishing
  4. Be Wary of 3rd-Party Apps & Websites
  5. Protect Your Phone

This is a “Def Con 3” level of alertness. Follow these steps and you might be lucky enough to avoid being hacked or becoming the victim of other security breeches. Don’t get complacent though.

Intermediate steps to protect your Twitter account

The next level of protection and alertness – “Def Con 2” – is to closely monitor who follows you and exercise due diligence.

There are several factors that help to identify the bad follower from the bona fide. These include, singly or in combination:

  1. No profile picture
  2. No header picture (although this in itself isn’t necessarily a sign of dodgyness, just laziness of the lack of a suitably large/hi-res picture)
  3. A header picture that is a stitched together collage of 5 or 5 photos “scraped” from another social media profile
  4. The username and profile name are a random string of letters and numbers and/or bear no correlation to each other
  5. Male profile picture and female username/profile name
  6. Profile picture is of a celebrity
  7. Profile picture is of an unfeasibly attractive individual
  8. The profile bio reads like the stream of consciousness rantings of someone mentally ill/a religious zealot or fanatic/someone with massively diverse and divergent interests
  9. The Twitter account only ever retweets/tweets randomness/tweets auto-generated quotes and nothing else/tweets crap
  10. They make no attempt to disguise the fact that they are dodgy by blatantly advertising that they can sell you 10,000 followers
  11. They have an unfeasibly large number of followers and/or they are following an unfeasibly large number themselves
  12. The following/follower numbers are the same

Etc. etc. You develop a spider sense that tingles in time with a bit of experience and knowledge. The follower might look kosher on the surface, but something might not ring true upon further investigation.

Anatomy of a Twitter Spammer
Anatomy of a Twitter Spammer

Don’t become a victim of vanity and assume that all followers are good followers because they increase your numbers.

Ask yourself:

  1. Why would this person follow me?
  2. Are they the sort of account I want to follow back?
  3. Do they potentially bring my account into disrepute or potentially put other legitimate followers off by appearing on my follower list?

Be cynical. Be cautious. Be suspicious. Be diligent.

Remember, yes, you do indeed get notifications when new followers follow you, but some slip through the net and you won’t be informed. Check your follower list periodically to make sure no nefarious nerks have followed you under your radar.

Advanced steps to protect your Twitter account

The next level of protection and alertness – “Def Con 1” – takes things to the maximum level of alert. Do this if you’ve already had your fingers burnt or it’s becoming too onerous and time-consuming to weed the bad followers out.

Def Con 1
Def Con 1

Lock your Twitter account down through the settings

  1. On your Twitter account home page, click the gear icon to see your Settings.
  2. On your Settings page, go to ‘Security and Privacy’ to view a wide range of options available.
  3. To enable protected Tweets and make your account private, tick ‘Protect My Tweets’.
  4. You’ll be asked to enter your Twitter password, just to double-check it’s definitely you making your account private, or public, if you’re unticking.
How to protect your twitter account
How to protect your twitter account

This means that all new followers have to request access to you and your tweets, and you can approve or reject follow requests on an individual basis. Allow the ones you want, reject those that you don’t.

What happens when I protect my Tweets?

  • When you protect your Tweets and make your Twitter account private, only your current followers will be able to see your Tweets.
  • Accounts with protected Tweets require each user to request to follow. You are able to manually approve and select who is able to see your Tweets.
  • The retweet function is disabled on Tweets you post, so anything you post remains entirely within your account. Your followers are NOT able to share your content, they can only favorite it. You are still able to retweet other public users though.
  • Protected Tweets do not appear in search engines like Google and third party sites, like Favstar, are not able to archive them. Protected Tweets are only searchable by you, the owner of the Twitter account, and your followers. Previously posted public Tweets will still be searchable in Google.
  • Unless the user in question follows you too, mentions (i.e. @KatyPerry I love you!!!) will not be seen by the user in question because they do not have permission to see your Tweets.

What to do if you get bad followers

Use “Block” and “Report” judiciously.

Click on the offender’s name. You can do so from your Twitter feed or from your Followers page. Their account will come up. Go to the “cog” icon for “More User Actions”, and click on “Block” and/or “Report”. The offending person won’t be able to see your tweets on his or her timeline, nor will you be able to see theirs; plus Twitter should look into the validity of the account if you report them and ultimately shut them down.

You could also consider installing an app to vet your followers, there are various ones out there, but look into it first and use your best judgement on whether it’s something you definitely want to do.

Still unsure whether or not to protect your Twitter account?

Still unsure whether or not to protect your Twitter account? Need more information or convincing further? See this article on PC World – Should I protect my Tweets.

Categories
Blog Guest Blog

7 Steps to building a brilliant brand

branding
Branding

In the first of what I hope will be a regular series of posts from different Guest Bloggers, please welcome Charlotte from F&R Designs. Charlotte lives in North Dorset, and is studying for BA (Hons) in Graphic Design as well as running her design business. Connect with her on her WebsiteFacebook page or Tweet her! Here are her 7 steps for building a brilliant brand.

Step One

Tag Line – A memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand. I believe this is a good place to start. You can brainstorm from here, and you already have your company name but you will need something that will run alongside your logo. A world famous brand like Coca-Cola has had a few over the years, but probably the most well known one is ‘The Original’ (Coke think that there are lots of imitation colas). Ask yourself – how do you want prospective clients to remember you?

Step Two

Colour pallet – When thinking about colour you may have a definite pallet in mind but really you need to research it as different colours mean different things to different people and in different cultures. Have a read through colour theory as we tend to associate colours with feelings. Color Matters has some great information on this. Once you have chosen your colour scheme you can apply it to a logo when you have one, which leads nicely on to step three.

Step Three

Logo – You’ve got your company name, but do you have any ideas for an appropriate and clever logo? Work with a designer as this could be the make or break of how you are seen and remembered. There are lots of graphics applications online that you can use to build a logo, but I think this is one area where you can’t afford to cut corners! I wrote a detailed blog post on logos – check it out.

Step four

Voice – Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. How do you want your customers to ‘hear’ you? This needs to be taken into account when presenting yourself, be it in person or online. Pictures also need to be taken into consideration as well, just remember to use the same tone throughout. Consistency is key.

Step five

Social media – You know your own product best, but who will it attract? Who’s your audience? Where do they hang out? If you can’t answer these questions, you could speak to Giles regarding social media marketing and advertising. He will identify your social media “tribe” on all of the different social media channels and promote your services or products to them. It’s not all sell, sell, sell though. It is vitally important to have conversations with people – it is called social media after all. Remember the 4-1-1 rule for Twitter – “For every one self-serving tweet, you should re-tweet one relevant tweet and most importantly share four pieces of relevant content written by others.”

Step six

Integrity – Now you’ve got everything in place and your product is out there, you need to be true to what you’ve promised in your tag line. Integrity is how all the great brands became great! It’s a truism that word of mouth is the best form of advertising, and it’s a real compliment when I’m recommended by someone else. These people are not just satisfied clients, they’re Brand Ambassadors, and your biggest reputational assest. Testimonials from real people help build integrity and trust. Consider using online reviews for transparency and building trust, if it’s appropriate to your business.

Step seven

Don’t stress – Now this is a big one. Everyone talks about numbers and followers on social media like it’s the be-all and end-all, but raw numbers mean nothing. It’s really all about quality not quantity. Why have followers who are’nt your target audience, unless they actually enhance your business in some other way (a business guru who is a major influencer, for instance)? Chances are they won’t actually interact with you, and it’s far better to have less followers that do actually comment and react to your product or services for real, rather than have 1000s of followers who never mention you. Don’t be tempted to buy followers, ever. It harms your brand perception, destroys integrity, and exposes your business to some very dodgy people whom you really don’t want to give your credit card details to! Plus, don’t sweat the metrics. Your domain authority (DA) or your Klout score really isn’t all that important to your bottom line – just get the fundamentals right and enjoy it!

I hope that these 7 steps to building a brilliant brand have been a help when considering your brand initially, or with re-branding. Please visit me for your graphic design needs in the South West.

signiture

 

www.fandrdesigns.co.uk

@fresh_rosy

charlotte@fandrdesigns.co.uk