Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Business Blogging - 6 tips to get you started

Starting up your own business blog? OK, first thing’s first. We’ve rounded up our top 6 things you need to get sorted before you even think about hitting that publish button….

  1. Listen To Your Audience - First off, you really need to learn who your customers are, where they hang out and what they are saying. There are lots of monitoring tools out there and the great news is that many of them are free. As well as Google Alerts and Twitter searches, tools such as Social Mention (a real-time search engine that pulls in data from a range of social media) are a great way to plug in relevant keywords and get an insight into who your audience is and what they want to hear.
  2. Position Your Blog – When creating your blog it’s really important to consider the value that it is bringing to your target audience and to establish yourself as an authority in your field. Your blog should provide pertinent information for consumers interested in your area of business. A clear goal and theme makes it a lot easier for readers to understand what to expect and more importantly it helps them to connect with the content.
  3. Choose Your Bloggers - Picking your bloggers is one of, if not THE most crucial things to think about as they will be the voice of your brand. Make sure you find a “voice” that is authentically yours. Pick people that are both knowledgeable and interested in the areas you want to cover and have a great writing style and presence. It they are truly passionate then that enthusiasm will shine through and ultimately make your blog a lot more interesting to read too.
  4. Write Some Guidelines- Once you’ve chosen your bloggers it’s worth creating a set of editorial guidelines for them to follow. Before embarking on your blogging journey, you should consider the “dos” and “don’ts” of blogging from both a company and a blogosphere point of view. These guidelines will help you to set the level of interaction and help you to avoid bad publicity and diminished credibility.
  5. Create Cornerstone Content – Absolutely vital. You only get one shot at a blog launch, so make sure you have plenty of well-organised and targeted content planned and written. Create something interesting and useful that will act as a motivator for subscribers to get on board.
  6. Find Guest Bloggers - If there are other blogs in your industry, seek out the top influencers and ask them to do a guest spot. Google Blogs: Is particularly useful for finding the volume of conversation occurring on particular search terms while BoardReader and Board Tracker are useful tools for tracking conversations happening within forums.

Next week we'll take a look at how to promote your blog once it’s gone live, including our number one top tip to really get you noticed!

Friday, 8 October 2010

The new GAP logo, was it all just a cunning viral marketing ploy?

Ever since GAP quietly introduced their new logo to the company’s web site for the first time on Monday morning, critics have been quick to voice their dislike of the new design, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites have been literally buzzing with reactions.

One Twitter user has even created a site where you can ‘make your own Gap logo,’ which is already making its rounds on the web (users have already created close to 5000 logos of their own).

But is the new logo just a clever move by Gap to spin some of the public outrage into a self-deprecating defence of its unpopular change? I definitely smelled a rat, a brand as strong as Gap doesn’t just release their logo without thought, warning, or a plan of action. Surely all their employees, stores, and partners would have had to been notified months in advance?

In response to the backlash Gap offered the following “Well, can you do any better?” response on its Facebook page:
So was it Gap’s original plan to crowdsource the project or more of a reactionary coping strategy than a well-laid marketing plan?

Either way, as a marketing strategy it has certainly done it's job. People who might not have shopped in GAP's stores, looked at their website or even thought about the design of it's previous logo are now talking about the GAP brand. It's a brilliant idea to keep the news fresh in peoples minds, and to engage them in your brand. You even have to 'Like' the GAP facebook page to leave a comment and I'm writing a blog about it now...genius!

Monday, 27 September 2010

7 Simple SEO tips to get you Started...

We get lots of people asking us about SEO, what they should do, what they could do and what they definitely should not do. It seems that a lot of 'gurus' and unscrupulous SEO companies have been over-complicating the whole thing unnecessarily and in light of this we have decide to shine a much needed spotlight on the often confusing area of SEO information and misinformation.

SEO is not rocket science. Yes, SEO moves fast. Yes, the strategies change periodically, but the simple essence of SEO basically stays the same. A respectable SEO agency will admit SEO is challenging but will explain as much as they can to you simply and will tailor your campaign to your budget.

Don't believe the hype. SEO results don't come quickly. Ethical SEO campaigns can take a considerable amount of time to develop and become effective but it will definitely be worth the wait.

Some SEO companies use the same SEO techniques for every client they work for and claim this is an efficient approach to SEO. This just isn't true. Every business is different and requires a unique SEO campaign. If your SEO campaign is not tailored to the wants and needs of your business, it is highly unlikely to make a difference.

Oh and our favourite...you really need metatags…yeah, if this was 1999. Now you need so much more: social bookmarking, press releases, content syndication, a blog and someone to run it, some viral content as linkbait, and about 500 more good sites linking to yours with your targeted anchor text.

In our experience, SEO is all about understanding our client and their customers, following good practice and utilising a combined understanding of search engines and web technology.

Here's a few tips to get you started:

  1. Know your market – choose your keywords based upon what people are looking for, NOT the other way around. There are a range of free tools and some paid ones which are perfect for helping you, Google Adwords & Word Tracker are ideal programs for this.
  2. Clarify your business goal, brand objective and value proposition. These are extremely difficult to do, but essential to your success. Answer these first!
  3. Solve a problem for your customer. Make sure the page does this with proper SEO and a call to action. It comes down to answering a user's specific question.
  4. Re-Work & Write your content - If you have already worked on some content think about re-working it to include some of your new keywords but be warned: don’t go over doing it and make sure it still reads well.
  5. Start a Blog. Blogs are all about content. Search engines love content. They don't love Flash, and they're still struggling with photos and video, but they absolutely get content.
  6. Get Social. Social Media is a great option of getting quality, inbound traffic.The nature of the social web encourages participation: sharing, voting, commenting and linking. Popular social content gets exposure, traffic and can result in a substantial number of relevant inbound links.
  7. Great content + Great User Experience + SEO = Traffic simples!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Do You Know Who's Watching You?

Well, do you? You might be surprised....

I thought I would share this infograph I received from the guys at Wordstream, it's easy to forget just how much of your personal life is accessible through social media and this graph is a great little reminder of the importance of being 'in the know' when it comes to privacy and controlling the information you share online. (click on the graph for full view)

Infographic byWordStream Internet Marketing

Infographic byWordStream Internet Marketing

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Getting Social with Virgin Media

If Twitter can make mainstream headlines, is there a place for it inside organisations? Virgin Media thinks there is, and have used Twitter to increased collaboration and engagement at their company.

Collaboration is fundamental to employee engagement in organisations today where relationships have changed; hierarchies are disappearing; knowledge is more in demand; and individuals expect employers to provide tools that allow them to communicate freely.

Technology makes it possible for employees to connect and communicate easily and quickly across functions, hierarchies, divisions and countries. This sharing of ideas, opinions and knowledge generates incredibly valuable information, vital for informed strategic decision making and, ultimately, business survival.

“Getting social” is a hot topic at Virgin Media – here's how they transformed the way they communicate and collaborate internally using social media tools and techniques.

  1. Intranet - This is the main online channel used internally to communicate.
  2. The Grill - This is a live online web chat, 'grilling' someone within the business. Anyone in the business can ask the individual getting 'grilled' questions, and it is a great way to get views and opinions aired and shared within the business. It is filmed and recorded for the archive.
  3. Forums - These are similar to the intranet, but sit separately within the structure. Although nervous initially regarding the time it would take to manage them, the forums actually self manage themselves and have needed very little moderation. They have proved effective because they invoke different responses from different people across the business.
  4. Wikis - These are information wiki's across the business. They have grown into their own micro communities, as individual sections of the business build up their own 'local' knowledge communities. These engage people differently, because they are reliant on colleagues working together to populate them with information.
  5. Twitter -With over 100 offices across the UK, Twitter has enabled connections at Virgin that wouldn’t have happened before. It has opened doors for people needing answers and support on a whole variety of topics – from IT support, to finding solutions to customer problems, to tips on where to get the best beer for those travelling to other offices. They have a 'locked account' (they simply protect their tweets) that currently has 430+ people (otherwise known as “Twits”) in their online community. employees join in on everything from twitpic caption competitions to sending out top tips, (“toptwips”) to help their community keep up with the latest developments on Twitter and other social media tools.
  6. Blogs - They currently have 25 blogs being written within the organisation on a wide range of subjects. They actively encourage anyone to blog and share them within the Virgin Media network.

Virgin believe there have been five real benefits from using the multitude of channels as part of their communication strategy:

  • Real-time feedback on real-time communications
  • Social media has revolutionised the way they are able to reach out to diverse cultures across different geographical boundaries, and link many of them together, by giving them different channels to do this.
  • It has helped them move away from just being an information 'top-down' company, by instigating all these 'bottom-up' communication channels. All employees now have a voice.
  • The employees can choose which way they communicate with other employees, and how they share information with each other.
  • Their employees are now taking responsible for their own communications and information which they are sharing with one another. They are not waiting for Virgin Media to 'tell them something' they are now using colleagues on the network to help instead.

Have your say

Would you consider using Twitter internally to help employees collaborate and communicate? Why or why not? Virgin as a brand is young and innovative, and the corporate culture encourages experimentation of new technologies, but how would you convince leaders of a more conservative organisation to allow employees to try something like Twitter? Let us know your thoughts below!

Next Week: 10 top tips on how to begin to incorporate social media platforms into your communication strategy.

Monday, 21 June 2010

What's Your Brand Doing For You?

In a climate of skills shortages and severe competition for the best potential recruits, how do you best stand out from the crowd? An employer brand has the ability to attract and retain the right people, influence productivity, engage, motivate and innovate. Employer branding highlights the importance of taking the hiring process seriously and the rich rewards it will bring if you get it right. All employers, regardless of size, location and structure, have an employer brand, but many organisations lack the time, resources or knowledge to form a powerful strategy for their employer branding.

Good employer branding has a huge positive impact on an organisation's profile, attractiveness and strength. It's not just about about logos and clever adverts, it's about engaging with job applicants and promoting your organisation as an employer of choice, consistently through every aspect of the recruitment cycle. The way in which a candidate is treated during the recruiting process has a long lasting impact on your recruiting success and ability to attract top candidates.

In a nutshell, your employer brand is the voice and image of the communication you implement to attract and retain employees. It is what identifies you in the marketplace; it's what makes your company distinctive.

Still not convinced it matters? - Five reasons why employer branding really works:

1. Shortage of skilled labour: As the number of possible choices job seekers can make is becoming even greater in the marketplace and as globalisation impacts increasingly, employer branding strategies prove critical. Employer brands act as a psychological trigger in candidate's heads. These are very powerful triggers in the job market and can play a key role in candidate's job choice. Companies that are perceived to be attractive employers will have an easier time to recruit top talent.

2. More with less: a mantra coined during this economic downturn, there is high pressure to cut costs and increase productivity, which has made the need to get the right people in the right jobs even more crucial. Employer branding results in more successful recruitment and retention of top talent. Moreover, by properly communicating the reality of the work environment, companies are more likely to attract talent that fits their organisational culture, thus increasing the people with the right skills in the correct positions.

3. Growth & profitability: hiring and retaining top performers is essential for growth and to maintain a competitive edge. Employees who have the right skills, experience and knowledge, in relation to the critical areas of a business to drive growth, are strategically important. Bottom line, employer branding increases your profit margin.

4. Popularity: research on the talent market reveals that people want to work for companies with great reputations, and they often turn to family members, friends or colleagues for advice and approval when making a decision about which employers to consider. In addition, the consumer/corporate/employer brands are becoming intertwined. If a company is viewed as being an unpopular employer, it will consequently affect everything else and cause disequilibrium in the corporate ecosystem.

5. Strength: being an attractive employer provides a company or organisation more bargaining power, as employees will want to work for them more than anyone else, even those that have rare and in demand skills - irrespective of salary levels. In addition, good employer branding is constantly maintaining an image of being the most desirable employer, and giving the right reasons or incentives to attract the best candidates.

Remember that the actions and activities of organisations are becoming more visible due to the increasing number of people joining and posting comments on social and business networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Employees and job applicants will continue ranking companies based on a higher level of internal insight into the company gained on online communities. As a result, businesses that promote good employment branding and communications will, in the long term, feature high on the “best places to work” lists and their employees will act as ambassadors of their brand. Every aspect of how prospective candidates are handled.

Of course, it is not just the communications aspect of the recruitment process that needs to reflect the employer brand. Every aspect of how prospective candidates are handled is worthy of consideration from the moment they make contact with the organisation through the selection phases to the subsequent offer or rejection. By recruiting intelligently and selectively you can better develop employee branding. Once your employees understand your brand and objectives—and buy in—they’ll be in a better position to act as ambassadors for your brand.

Friday, 14 May 2010

How the New LinkedIn Feature Could Give You the Inside Track

LinkedIn have recently introduced a new feature that enables users to follow companies they are interested in, called Company Follow. On the surface it’s a small change, but it could have major implications for both LinkedIn’s individual users and companies. Company updates will let you know about profile changes, new hires, recent departures and promotions within an organisation.

Nearly a million companies already have their company profiles on the professional networking site, and as the LinkedIn blog puts it:

“Starting today, you can be in the loop on new developments, potential business opportunities or even job opportunities by following companies of interest to you… Most importantly, this feature can deliver insights - you may be surprised at - such as the pace of hiring at your nearest competitor or the start of a whole new industry as you see web technology companies hiring geography teachers (for e.g.).”

I think it's a really smart move on LinkedIn's part. LinkedIn has always been known as the professionals social network or B2B networking playground online, so this feature makes sense. LinkedIn users can follow a company, by just selecting the Follow button on the companies profile or a member who is associated with a particular company. They'll be able to easily view the companies they are following and they will also receive recommendations on companies they might be interested in following.

So,where do you begin? Here's a few tips to get you started...


Companies use LinkedIn for various ways such as building a community, gaining new talent, or watching its competition. The Company Follow feature will ensure greater success for using LinkedIn to it’s fullest potential.

1. A new stream of followers and potential employee opportunity can be built. There is no restriction on the amount of companies a person can follow allowing a followers to build.

2. Pay attention to the competition. If anyone can follow you so can any company so know who is paying attention to you.

3. They said what? Know what the conversations surrounding your business are whether you like it or not. It’s better to know than not.

4. Keep your employees happy. By following your competitors you will know if they are in need of someone who could be found in your company. This provides you with an unique opportunity to keep your employees happy in ways that matter most.

5. Follow freely. You won’t be blocked so follow your competitor to protect your company and find ,if needed, new employees.

6.You may want to keep an even closer eye on what information you and your employees put on LinkedIn now – it was changes to profiles there that revealed that Apple had bought Intrinsity, and that was even before the introduction of this feature.)

Job Seekers

1.Be selective of the companies you follow. It’s imperative to follow companies where you will be of greatest value and that have a good reputation.

2.Discover what hidden jobs these companies may have by staying current its news.

3.Who’s coming and going? Find out what jobs are opening or closing and why.

4.Promotions. A friendly congratulations to an employee receiving a promotion can garner itself into a beneficial networking relationship.

5. Know what “Top Dogs” have joined with the company. By knowing what Executives or Senior Managers have joined you can insight into what the company is doing, accomplishing, or needing, which could be window of opportunity.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Resource Solutions Group (RSG) short-listed for prestigious Award

Resource Solutions Group's successful brand launch and internal marketing campaign, ‘I’m RSG’ has been short-listed for Best Marketing Campaign in the Recruitment Consultant Industry Awards, sponsored by 1st Choice Software.

The RSG campaign relied on the passion and personal integrity of both senior leaders and their staff to shape and transmit our single-minded proposition, ‘Empowered Thinking, Proven Delivery’ and encouraged employees to feel their views were recognised and valued to increase their levels of engagement in the company.

“We tried to engage everybody into the new vision for the business. We drew upon our own staff’s personality, ambitions, experience and expertise and then used that information as a platform for developing and delivering our brand message. The beauty of this is that it allows RSG’s proposition to be personalised, instead of becoming some glossy corporate message that is delivered without adequate content. The feedback I have received from all areas of the company has been overwhelmingly positive. Through a smart execution the team have raised the bar and set new standards for internal communications.” said Mike Beesley, Director of Group Sales and Marketing.

The Recruitment Industry Awards judging panel met on Wednesday to sort through ‘the exceptionally high standard of entries’ and the Awards ceremony will be held at Grace in Great Windmill Street, London on the 3rd June, 2010.

The panel was chaired by Recruitment Consultant editor Jim Tanfield and was made up of TEAM UK’s Liz Longman, Elite Leaders managing director John O’Sullivan, Thomas International chairman and chief executive Martin Reed with Front Page Publishing’s Paul Harwood and 1st Choice Software’s Roy Snart.

Judges’ chairman Jim Tanfield said: “The standards for a majority of entries was exceptional and judges had their work cut out to find a winner in each category. There was something incredibly heartening about the diversity of entries, with small and large recruitment firms alike as well as the support services, wanting to celebrate their achievements following a turbulent economy.”

To view the shortlists for all five Recruitment Industry Awards categories, including Best Marketing Campaign, visit http://www.rec-con.co.uk/article.php/news/shortlist_announced/2726

Sticky Media is an RSG company

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Don’t Tweet That! 10 tweets that will get you into hot water...

Leading on from my last blogs look at the Nestle Facebook disaster, I thought I’d follow up with a few words about one of its biggest rivals, the mighty Twitter.

Time and time again people have posted things to their corporate Twitter feed that has really blown up in their face and surprisingly, the big corporate machines have been just as guilty of this as the rest of us. So I've rustled up a few tips to help you stop your tweets turning into 140 character time bombs that explode into twittersphere.

In all honesty, I look at Twitter in the same way that I look at other sources of written communication - books, blogs, magazines, websites, social networking - they all have a purpose and can be used effectively but each presents it's own dangers as well. This is a huge challenge for companies.

Don’t get me wrong, Twitter can definitely add value to any business that uses it well. It is a great way to reinforce your brand, share news and important information, gather feedback, advertise and most importantly, start a dialogue with your customers and prospects – and the only cost is the time of the people involved with managing your Twitter account.

But it's surprising just how many organisations don’t use them effectively and there are some who don’t even seem to think before they tweet. Surely, before you’re going to say something publicly that will reflect on your company or brand, you should take just a split second to think about what you’re posting? I know the first thing that pops into my head isn’t always something that I’d want to broadcast!

Here’s a little list I pulled together for corporate tweeters:

The Definitely Do Not Tweet List!

1. Don’t just use twitter as an advertising medium – it doesn’t work that way. Twitter is designed for relationship building. The most successful corporate accounts provide insights and value to the general listener.

2. Don’t complain about your colleagues or clients on Twitter. If they don’t read it someone else will tell them about it, trust me, it will get back to them!

3. Don’t get defensive about negative criticism of your company or it’s services, use the opportunity to show those listening that you care about what they think and try to resolve any issues they have.

4. Don’t post about any confidential company affairs or finances. This can get your company in a lot of trouble and will almost definitely leave you without a job.

5. Don’t publicise any private issues or jeopardise the company’s working relationships.

6. Don't #hashtag every topic. After a while, your topics will just be ignored and you will be un-followed.

7. Don't tweet about any issues you have with a co - worker or your employer or anyone else for that matter – try talking to them about it! This just makes both you and your company look really unprofessional (not to mention a tad passive aggressive!) not such a good look.

8. Don't tweet your eating habits. Seriously. Just don't do it.

9. Don’t think having an anonymous account or user profile makes any of the above okay.

And Finally...

10. Don't use completely unrelated hot topics or events solely as a PR opportunity to further your own name and social media rank and position, people will see straight through it.

To illustrate this last point, I leave you with this example, posted by the official Google Maps API twitter account, just after the news broke about the death of the ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson. It's a pretty insensitive attempt to use some completely unrelated news to attract people to their website, which they have since deleted:

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Nestle’s Facebook Fiasco.

Last week, chocolate maker Nestle became the centre of a Facebook feeding frenzy when the operators of the corporation's Facebook page made a rather hostile response to some of it's critics’ comments.

The situation began when environmental protection group Greenpeace, who are known for their unorthodox methods of gaining attention, created a video parody on YouTube of Nestle’s KitKat chocolate bar.

The video parody (not for the faint hearted) suggests that the production of a key ingredient in the product, palm oil, leads to the destruction of rainforests.

Nestle demanded that the video be taken down but it went viral, reappearing on multiple video sharing websites. Then Nestle's Facebook page was flooded with angry comments from Greenpeace supporters, whom the activist group had encouraged to change their profile photos to anti-Nestle slogans that incorporated the company's food logos.

Nestle’s Facebook administrator countered with the following threat:

Nestle: We welcome your comments, but please don't post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic - they will be deleted."

Unsurprisingly this attempt at censorship didn’t go down particularly well and a barrage of angry critics flooded their page:

Paul Griffin: Your page, your rules, true, and you just lost a customer, won the battle and lost the war! Happy?

Nestle: Oh please .. it's like we're censoring everything to allow only positive comments.

Darren Smith: Honey you need new PR

Jagos Golubovic: I was a big fan of your products, but now, when I saw what you guys wrote, I think I'm gonna stop buying them.

Helen Constable: I'd like to know if the person writing the comments for Nestle, actually has the backing from Nestle? I doubt it. Even a dumb ass company like them would get such an idiot to be their public voice.

Nestle: I think you missed out the 'not' there, Helen

Hyra Zaka: is a nestle rep running this page?????

Responding to one of hundreds of messages about the deforestation and it's effect on endangered Orang-Utangs, the administrator brazenly countered: "Get it off your chest - we'll pass it on."

Not only was this a social media disaster, it’s managed to bring the central issue - the company’s connection to deforestation in Indonesia and its effect on indigenous people and Orang-Utans - to more eyeballs than even Greenpeace could have hoped for.

What happened to Nestle happened because the person charged with managing its Facebook page was either under-qualified or unprepared to do their job properly. Handled differently, the attack on Nestle’s facebook page could have been better managed and the outcome could have been radically more positive for the brand.

Here’s a few Corporate Facebook tips that Nestle would have done well to remember:

1. DON’T insult your fans - negative comments and the way you respond to them is visible to all your followers. Aggressive and inflammatory remarks are a sure fire way to antagonise even the most passive reader.

2. DON'T Censor their comments - silencing your critics will only add fuel to the fire. As bad as it might seem to have criticism showing up on your Facebook page, it’s infinitely worse to have the mainstream media pick up on your censorship, unless you live in China, the internet is a democracy.

3. DON’T respond unless you have something positive to say. Nestle’s mistake was responding to criticism before they had a valid point to make. By the time they announced their plans to use 100% renewable palm oil by 2015, the damage was already done – nobody was willing to listen.


Friday, 19 March 2010

Tune Up Your Social Media Talent

Last Year, 11.8 million people tuned in to watch “Britain’s Got Talent” when the now infamous 'SuBo' made her screen debut . But in just a few days, the video of that same show on YouTube had generated more than 80 million views. That’s TV 11.8 million, YouTube 80 million. Anyone who grew up with television as the quintessential mass medium may need to take a moment just to absorb that fundamental shift.

2009 was a banner year for social media. Fuelled in large part by the impressive growth of Twitter and LinkedIn and the adoption of both by major brands and recognisable individuals, it's safe to say that social media truly went 'mainstream'. And more and more people have a nagging suspicion that things like Susan’s YouTube video are stark examples that social media tools really are changing the way that we communicate.

Through social media tools, a business can stay connected to a larger number of contacts and the networks they belong to, have access to the information and opportunities in those networks, and do it better and faster. Social Media Marketing provides businesses with a powerful tool that doesn’t need an overwhelming amount of complexity to be useful.

Here are five tips for companies looking to take their social media efforts to the next level in 2010.

1. Start small. It is best to start your Social Media transformation slowly. Let the change take its course without forcing it. If your company has several brands and products, pick one and start from there. Use this as the stepping stone for the Social Media transformation in your company. You can only change so much inside your organisation, so choose your battles wisely.

2. Find the right people to handle the transformation. You need sufficient manpower to successfully prepare your organisation for embracing Social Media. You need to find the right people to handle this endeavor, otherwise it will inevitably fail; the people behind this effort should be passionate - passionate and enthusiastic about building a relationship with your customers and your target market. Do not delegate this task to the person with the least responsibilities. This job needs specialisation and passion, not just free time.

3. Sync the technology. Your marketing or PR people should have the right resources in order to turn your plans into reality. Otherwise, find a new agency. Your agency should be able to understand Social Media, because only then will your efforts become successful.

4. Set and follow goals. You should have set goals as soon as you signed up for your Twitter and other social media accounts. In fact you should have had goals before you even signed up for your first social network account. Having goals will allow you to use social media effectively because you have a guide.

5. Don’t obsessively count fans and followers. It’s not the quantity of followers you have, it is the quality of followers that really matter when using social media for business. Stop obsessing about the number of followers you have and instead focus on really developing a strong community around your brand.

6. Commit to the whole thing. Using social media for business requires time and commitment. Make sure you really commit to updating your social media accounts. Some individuals and companies start a Twitter account and then abandon it without full understanding how it can really help them. You might encounter some problems or troubles as you go along but just keep going. There is no perfect social network and you just have to keep working on what you started to get the best results.

7. Check out the competition. Social media will provide you with opportunities to learn more about your competitors as well as your industry.

8. Plan for the long term. Granted that your initial efforts worked, where will you take it? At the beginning, you should start small, but you should plan big in case your plans do work. Your plans should go beyond making Social Media part of your organisation; instead, your plans have to be long term—and everyone in your organisation should be prepared. Using Social Media means putting a premium on the role of the customers in your organisation. This can be daunting and unsettling, so proper planning is required.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Recruiting in 2010? More Hints from the Experts:

Back by popular demand… more helpful hints from the experts as to how your organisation can pick up the talent it needs to get it through the economic labyrinth ahead…

6. Hire in haste, repent at leisure

OK, as noted in the last blog, you’ve got to get a move on when planning your recruitment strategy for the recovery and beyond - but that doesn’t mean you should rush into the actual hiring activity too. Panicking when facing gaps in your team, or when worrying about letting a flood of new talent flow through your fingers, won’t help your organisation through the next months and years. Take a deep breath and ignore sudden rushes of blood to the head; hire with tomorrow in mind, not just the next five minutes.

“While the prospect of increased workloads may at first be daunting, employers must not succumb to the temptation to indiscriminately fill vacancies irrationally or as soon as possible,” cautions Adecco’s Steven Kirkpatrick. “Even when it seems that candidates are lining up at the door, employers should never rush into their hiring decisions. Just because they feel that time is not on their side; inevitably this will only impact negatively on other staff through increasing their workload and could affect the business in the long term. Poor hiring can be expensive too; often lowering productivity and in the worst cases employers may be forced to re-hire again if the candidate is really not up to the required standard.”

7. Be aware of the bigger picture - understand the recruiting sector

Obviously, it helps pretty much everyone in business to have an understanding of the broader economic picture; however, those working in recruitment should recognise the benefits of understanding not just those sectors into or from which they’re recruiting, but also the recruitment sector itself. Significant changes are occurring within the industry that affect both the market and the ways in which recruiters operate within it. Miss the bigger picture while you’re busy rolling out your sector-specific pitch, and you could also miss the boat entirely.

Robert Richards of Devonshire says that his company “is approaching the recovery conscious of two core themes. Firstly the sense that the 'War on Talent' continues unabated. Secondly; organisations should be (even) more flexible in the way they on-board their talent.

8. Using external recruiters doesn’t mean you don’t have to be flexible

There’s a definite temptation when outsourcing your recruitment to insist on very rigid parameters in terms of compensation and incentives for potential hires - but setting a price and sticking to it might not make the most of what your recruiters can do. Allowing a bit of flexibility into what your providers can offer, in terms of access to things like bonus packages, pension provision, healthcare offerings etc, might well mean they can secure top talent at a lower salary level than you’d budgeted for.

“Many clients seem to believe that the market is flooded with great talent and that as such they can stubborn with their demands,” warns Rob Grant of Dragonfly Recruitment. “Good people are still hard to find and employers who show flexibility - be it in working arrangements, remuneration or other aspects of the recruitment process - will find themselves more likely to find the perfect person.”

9. Look inside as well as out

As a successful organisation you’ve got to be confident of your ability to hire and retain talent right from the very first day it walks through your hallowed doors - so if you’ve spent all this money, time and effort on attracting raw talent why not try to utilise it when seeking to fill new vacancies? Especially if you have access to an internal talent pool.

“Employers should not overlook the possibility of internal promotions or re-structures. Although business cannot afford to “just leave it” when business picks up, employers should consider that they may have sufficient resources within. Be clear on just how much work there is to be done and who has the potential bandwidth to assist in a role outside of their original remit,” recommends Adecco’s Steven Kirkpatrick.

10. Make your voice heard, all down the chain…

Everyone wants the ear of the top brass - so ensuring you’ve got it becomes all the more difficult (and of course all the more important) - but it’s advisable to make sure as many people as possible, boardroom to postroom, understand the importance to the organisation of coherent and cohesive recruitment. After all, everyone can do their part to make the recruiting process and the talent-retention element as smooth and successful as possible.

“Smart hiring decisions will help build a more productive workforce with better retention; which in turn helps build good company morale and saves the company money in the long-term. Once the economy turns around, employee goodwill will be of paramount importance,” urges Nick Walrond of Sanderson Recruitment plc.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Recruiting in 2010?

2009 was a tough year for a lot of us but many employers are now strengthening their operations in preparation for the economic recovery. So what can we expect from the recruiting market in 2010? Here are our predictions...

Increased vacancy activity - As employers sense new optimism in the market they are now thinking of long-term strategies to strengthen their business and this includes planning for recruitment during 2010.

Candidate movement - Following a particularly tough year, we will see a significant increase in the number of employed people changing jobs as their confidence grows. Some will be passive job seekers, tentatively keeping an eye on opportunities that become available. Others will look for their next step up.

Skills shortages - As we emerge from the economic downturn, the challenge for talent remains and will once again rear its head. Skills shortages will again become evident. Already there are shortages of particular skills. As the search for the best talent rises, the pool of available talent will diminish throughout the year.

Good employers will thrive - Employees were front-row spectators to their company’s recession response. During the downturn, the ‘good’ employers shone. They maintained their focus on their employees’ career development and staff relations. These companies are now viewed very positively by job seekers. They are well-placed to attract the top talent in 2010 as a result.

And here’s some helpful hints from the experts as to how your organisation can pick up the talent it needs to get it through the economic labyrinth ahead…

1. Generosity can save you money

It’s been very much a buyer’s market in recruitment recently - but that shouldn’t dissuade you from erring on the side of generosity when it comes to talking terms with the really top talent. Just because the market’s tightened up significantly in general terms, doesn’t mean the competition isn’t just as keen as ever to attract the very best employees - a refusal to budge on the top end of what you’re able to offer potential new staff could end up proving very costly as you either fail to secure that key talent or see it drift off over the horizon sixth months down the line, lured by a better offer…

“Offer a fair deal…and save money!” advises Nick Walrond, Managing Director at Sanderson Recruitment Plc. “Because there is so much competition for roles it is very tempting for recruiters to secure someone on a significantly lower salary than the current market value - but this is really just a false economy. Recruiting individuals is a big investment and having to replace someone is a waste of money, time and effort. It is really important to make sure that remuneration is commensurate with the market and that your new employee is truly happy with the offer. The reason is simply that you will risk losing that person as soon as another opportunity materializes which offers a salary more closely matched with their level of experience.”

2. Don’t go long-term if you don’t have to

Just as an increasing number of jobseekers are only looking for part-time or short-term contracts it might make sense for you to consider these options too. For many reasons - such as forthcoming M&A activity; possible transformation programs looming; new systems implementation; perhaps the possibility of an outsourcing deal shaking up some of your departments - your organization might want to maintain a fairly flexible headcount even at relatively high levels. Tying yourself down to long-term contracts when none is needed can be expensive, inefficient and unwieldy.

“If employers are unable to find the ideal candidate then they should consider alternative employment options. It may be most suitable to employ temporary workers that can quickly and easily come in and keep operations running as normal until a full-time solution is found. Alternatively, if workloads are likely to lessen in the near future, e.g. the work is seasonal then perhaps a longer-term contract worker would be a sufficient replacement during busy periods,” says Steven Kirkpatrick, Managing Director of Adecco staffing in UK and Ireland.

3. Be prepared for the “reluctant jobseeker”

Sudden changes to the economy shake up the job-market in many ways, but one of the most profound is the injection of new types of jobseeker into the fray. A wide variety of new experiences and new ways of thinking come into the picture for recruiting organizations - but they can be accompanied by a whole host of different challenges facing the jobseekers themselves…

“The issue of quantity has been fuelled the past two years by a new dynamic to the labor market: the reluctant jobseeker - the individual that has served an organization diligently for many years climbing the internal career ladder, performing different internal roles and earning a year-on-year salary increase to reward them for their loyalty. These are the ones that seem to struggle most; type-cast through a combination of the stigma of redundancy, not being considered for potential roles because their salary expectation is too high, they're unlikely to be sufficiently agile to 'fit' culturally into a new organization, they live in the wrong geographic location or they have not worked in the industry sector that the potential employer demands. Going forwards; both applicants and employers need to be willing to show flexibility and focus on positives and where value can be achieved,” according to Robert Richards of Devonshire Communications.

4. LinkIn - yesterday, if not before…

Get on LinkedIn, along with over 53,000,000 others - many of whom are actively searching for their next professional challenge. Social networking might still have a few “downtime” connotations in the stuffier corners of the business world, but this is business networking - and, really, if you’re not on LinkedIn by now what actually are you doing?

“Link with your LinkedIn network. Daily updates – indicating what you’re working on – update your network. Grow and manage your network daily. And, reach out to your network and search for potential matches to your jobs. LinkedIn is one of the most awesome tools to happen to recruiting in many years… use it and build it daily. If you’re not active on LinkedIn you’re probably not a serious recruiter,” enthuses Greg Bennett, global practice director for The Mergis Group.

5. … And put the pieces together with Jigsaw et al

Of course, LinkedIn isn’t the only online community recruiters should be aware of. There are plenty of other sites with useful data and helpful applications to assist you in your hunt for talent. Even a familiarity with less typically business-focused networks like Facebook and MySpace can give you an advantage by opening doors to specific interest-groups, geographies etc (not to mention helping with any viral marketing you might be deploying).

“Another great tool is Jigsaw,” says The Mergis Group‘s Greg Bennett. “Frequently you’ll see a profile on LinkedIn that really looks like a strong match and you’d rather not use an InMail for a variety of reasons. Jigsaw is, basically, a barter sight for business cards. I’ll see a name on LinkedIn and then search it on Jigsaw and usually find a direct phone number and email address for the person… very handy tool… While LinkedIn is my primary source site I also utilize others such as Plaxo, Xing, Facebook and to a much lesser degree, Twitter. ”

Next Blog: 5 More Hints From the Experts...

*Helpful hints from the experts first published by Jamie Liddell, Editor, Shared Services & Outsourcing Network (SSON) - www.ssonetwork.com