Wednesday, 6 August 2014

3 Reasons You Should Be Using Twitter Lists (And How To Get Started)

Twitter’s ‘Lists’ are a handy little feature that even some of the best and most popular Twitter users simply don’t make the most of. Simply put, they are a way of categorising Twitter accounts. When viewing the list, you’ll be able to see the tweets of anyone in the list - only people in the list. First we’ll review some of the benefits and then go into more detail about how to use Lists.

1. You’ll cut down clutter and save a lot of time

As anyone with a pretty active account will agree, the number of people you follow can jump up pretty quickly. It’s not long before you’re left flicking through a newsfeed full of tweets you just aren’t that interested in. What if you don’t want to unfollow anyone? You followed everyone for a reason, right?

Twitter Lists lets you immediately go to what you’re interested in and what you want. Simply add a few of your favourite news sources into a Twitter list, and you’ll have a ‘News’ list to flick through on your daily commute. Do you enjoy keeping up-to-date on what your old friends are up to? A ‘Friends’ list means you won’t have to spend time looking them all up individually.

2. Turn Twitter into a content farm

This is a more advanced benefit. Once you’ve become a regular Twitter user, you’ll notice that some accounts stand out to you above others. You may even develop some favourite accounts that you know always post great content.

Why not put them all into a list?

Keeping an active and interesting twitter account will be a less daunting task if you have a to-do resource that customises all your needs. You can check this list regularly to make sure that you’ve got the most up-to-date and interesting content on your Twitter page. If they’re really great accounts,  you can use them to farm inspiration for your own content or material for a different platform like a blog.

3. Track your competition without having to follow them

The best-kept secret about Twitter Lists is a simple and effective one. You don’t have to be following someone to add them to a list. Lists give us an effective, quick and simple way to review your competitors without them ever knowing.

So long as the list is kept private, they’ll never know you’re looking. But beware; this feature means that anyone could easily be doing the same to you. Stay on top of your game and always tweet to impress!

How to use them

The easiest way to access your Lists is by clicking the gear icon in the top-right of your Twitter screen:

When you click Lists, you will be directed to your Lists screen. This will show you all the Lists that you currently have and the number of people in them. If the list name has a little padlock next to it, this means it’s private. You can also see other individuals’ lists that you’ve followed and lists that you’re a member of:

However, you won’t be informed you’re in someone else’s list if it’s private. You can subscribe to the lists of other users by going onto their Twitter profile and clicking ‘More’, then ‘Lists’.

Next up is adding people to your list. Start off by searching for them with the bar in the top right. Once you’ve searched your term, click ‘People’ on the left. This isn’t essential; it just makes sure that your search results are just accounts rather than tweets and pictures too.

Click on the gear icon next to the ‘Follow’ button to bring up a drop-down menu. Click ‘Add or remove from Lists’. This window will then appear:

Tick the box that corresponds to the list you want the desired account added to, and it’s done. You can add an account to as many lists as you like. Once your list has some accounts in it, you can go back to your Lists menu and click on the account you want to view.

Et voilĂ ! You've created your very own customised Twitter feed!

If you’re interested by this article but want to learn more, why not try one of our training courses? Please contact Jack or call 01892 52013 for more information.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Project STEP: Social Training and Enterprise programme

By Katie King, Managing Director

Last week I took to the stage at the annual Kent 2020 Vision Live event, giving a presentation to a packed audience on Becoming a Social Business.  I had the pleasure of listening to an earlier speaker, Edward Perry, co-founder of Cook, the independent company hand preparing food at kitchens in Kent for your freezer. It was inspiring to learn about what has driven their phenomenal rise to success.  Edward referred to the importance of building a positive, supportive culture where staff want to work and grow, as well as encouraging CSR and giving back to the community.

Although ambitious for success with my own PR and social media business Zoodikers, I share this passion and desire to think beyond the pound signs and I intend to try and leave a legacy and make a difference, however small.  Our initiative, Project STEP, gets started next month.  More on that in a moment; first, a little bit of context…

Growing up, very happily I must add, on the 11th floor of a block of council flats in Tottenham, north London, and having moved to leafy Tunbridge Wells just 8 years ago, I know from first hand experience the desire and drive bound into the sometimes misrepresented concept of social mobility.  I respect people from humble beginnings who have succeeded and opened up, for themselves and their families, a new and exciting world of opportunities.  But not everyone shares the same levels of energy and foresight to make that a reality; not everyone benefits from the inspirational teachers that I met in my later school years; not everyone has the same support from dedicated, loving parents.  I was one of the lucky ones and now it’s ‘pay back’ time.

Starting in June, I’ll be coaching a group of 16-19 year olds on how to exploit social media to get a job, work experience, or even to be inspired to set up their own businesses.  The students are from Haringey Sixth Form Centre in White Hart Lane, home to my favourite football team Spurs, who I’ve been supporting from the tender age of 5 (a by-product of being an only child of a football-mad Dad Stan.)

STEP stands for Social Training and Enterprise programme.  I’ve already had interest from the local paper, the Haringey Independent, who’ll be sending a photographer along to our first session on June 11th.  I’m also in talks with the local MP David Lammy, and the inspirational founders of The Banc restaurant in Tottenham’s West Green Road.  The hope is that they, along with Tottenham Hotspur, can help me to widen the scope of the project, offering these exciting venues for free for us to host the later training sessions, and helping to draw in other stimulating speakers who can offer advice, as well as businesses who can provide job opportunities.

With that in mind, I aim to open this out to the facilities management and construction sectors, which I’m heavily involved with at Zoodikers.  Given the exciting regeneraton plans for the Spurs stadium and the region at large, there is an obvious synergy.  So I’m happy to involve some of my contacts from this wider business world too.

If you would like to get involved, please drop me an email –  I look forward to hearing from you.  Next month we’ll share some pictures and video clips of the project getting underway. Thank you!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Social advertising – back to the future for brands?

A few weeks ago, Ogilvy published a fascinating article titled Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach. The upshot of this piece was that due to changes in Facebook’s algorithm, we are rapidly reaching a state where Company Pages on the site will have no organic reach.

Up until a couple of years ago, anyone posting on a personal Profile or a Company Page could pretty much guarantee that their Friends or Fans would see this content.

However, since the introduction of EdgeRank, the social media giant has aimed to filter content posted on Profiles and Pages according to how relevant and engaging it is for audiences.

The result is that now, unless you have an actual fanbase of people who really want to engage with your brand, only a fraction of your audience will ever see your posts unless you decide to go down the advertising route.

To a greater or lesser extent, this is now starting to happen on LinkedIn too. Until recently, by searching a person’s Profile on the site, it was possible to see their updates. This feature was removed earlier in 2014 and replaced with posts – essentially blogs (click here to read more).

There are two issues at play here. Firstly, due to the huge number of users of social media sites (Facebook now 1.2 billion, Twitter 800 million and LinkedIn 300 million), the amount of content (or noise) posted daily has reached overload. Therefore there has to be some form of filtering process.

The second issue is monetisation. All the social networks are businesses that need to turn a profit. Facebook and Twitter have floated so must demonstrate new and innovative ways of making money, especially on mobile platforms.

Facebook now has an incredibly sophisticated advertising offering and has also partnered up with data-mining companies to provide brands with extremely targeted audiences. Using their Power Editor, it is possible to reach out to more than 500 categories of users.

Twitter has recently opened up its advertising offering to SMEs. Companies can sponsor tweets or hashtags while just last week, they announced that they would let advertisers promote website content on the site.

Elsewhere LinkedIn, Pinterest and even Tumblr all offer paid-for opportunities for content.

So what does this mean for companies who want to meet specific business objectives using social media?

Controversially I would say that for most companies, Facebook should be treated more like a traditional media outlet than a social network.

If you want exposure in the national press or trade publications, you have two routes. You can gain coverage through PR activity or you can buy advertising space.

With Facebook, if you want to increase your reach to a specific target audience, you now have two similar routes. You can invest in reaching out to, and engaging with, fans organically (perfect for sports clubs, TV shows, past-times and other organisations with a ready-made fanbase) or you can use various forms of advertising to reach selected audiences.

As 99% of Pages in the UK fall into the latter category, making Facebook work involves creating interesting, engaging, relevant and regularly updated content, then allocating the correct advertising budget to help position this in front of the right customer base.

Sorry guys but no decent content plus no ad budget = no results, no matter how many Likes you have!

The same will increasingly go for Twitter and LinkedIn too. We’re going back to the future where content and ad budgets are needed to yield results.

If you are interested in making social media work for your business, then why not drop me a line on or check out our website at We can help you use the social networks to achieve strategic goals.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Designing the modern ‘social’ business?

David Taylor, Head of Social Business, Zoodikers Consultancy Ltd. and co-author of The Business of Being Social

Many people incorrectly assume that social media is all about marketing and therefore should be the preserve of your marketing department.

However there are so many areas of business that are also impacted upon by the social media channels. Sales, human resources, PR, IT, recruitment, customer relations, internal communications, corporate governance and even supply chain management can all be affected in some way.

The most progressive organisations now understand this and are restructuring both their business models and their corporate culture to meet the challenges and opportunities offered by the likes of LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

So how do you go about designing a truly ‘social’ business, thereby ensuring the enduring success of your company.

The diagram below shows a five-step program to achieving this.

As with any business, the first step is to have some form of strategy. As I explained earlier, this is not simply a marketing plan but more of an overriding blueprint for the future direction of your company.

Within this strategy you need to revisit your overall business objectives, the vision for your company, your target market(s), key messages, the performance of your sales & marketing activities, corporate culture, internal communication channels, recruitment policies, HR guidelines and quality of customer relations.

Getting all the information you need to create the strategy is no easy feat and may involve robust internal discussions and soul-searching. But once you have reached a consensus, it will then offer you a clear direction ahead for the next one, two, five or ten years.

At the same time, as well as informing your marketing, it will also dictate which social media channels you plan to use and decide which business objectives will be met through using them.

Once you know which sites you intend to use to meet your business objectives, the next step is to think about the content you are going create to post on these channels.

We are in an age of content marketing. This means coming up with a steady supply of interesting, engaging, relevant and targeted content. Whether they are blogs, videos, infographics, tweets, Facebook updates or Pinterest pins, they need to be high quality.

You need to think more like a newspaper or magazine editor. It’s great that there are all these wonderful online channels, but you have a duty of care to ensure they are constantly (in some cases 24/7) filled with great content. If you know you can’t, you may need to revisit your strategy and work out how to allocate the necessary resources.

This is where outside agencies can help. Advertising companies, graphic designers, PR consultancies, video producers and marketing agencies can all help you create the sort of content you need to fill your channels.

However, content creation is just one element of social media. Posting content is fine but companies need to be prepared to listen, respond, engage, analyse and report. It may seem like common sense, but companies actually have to be social, not just say they are.

As a result, the fastest growing sector in media globally is now community management. People are employed by companies just to manage social media accounts. In fact some larger organisations will even have been whole community management departments.

And sometimes, this work has to be done around the clock, especially in customer-facing industries where people can post comments, complaints and suggestions whenever it suits them. We’re in the age of the mobile self-publisher and companies need to be ready to respond quickly to anything these people may write.

At the same time, analysing what is being said online, so-called Big Data, is also becoming vital to businesses. There is a wide array of software that can help track sentiment, customer feedback, trends, product reviews and competitors.

The fourth step is understanding the role of paid-for advertising on social media. All the key social media sites now offer ways to promote your brand, website or content.

Facebook offers a variety of advertising methods, Twitter has recently introduced promoted tweets and accounts, LinkedIn has both pay-per-click advertising and promoted Company updates while YouTube has video AdWords which are closely linked to Google.

In many cases, the only way to achieve strategic business objectives is by paying to reach either wider or more targeted audiences. As with any form of advertising, to ensure maximum ROI on your marketing you need to plan carefully, have the correct content, some form of budget, the right target audience(s) and measure performance on both a short term and long term basis.

The final phase is in some way the most problematic – establishing a social ‘culture’ within organisations. This can involve major upheaval and even restructuring in order to achieve the correct balance.

At the very least, there must be comprehensive social media guidelines in place for staff outlining what they can or cannot do online and explaining how they fit into the overall strategy on social media.

Clearly, having a defined strategy will make the job of communicating this to staff much easier and is a world away from applying draconian measures like banning employees from accessing any social networks whilst at work.

One aspect I touched on earlier in the article was getting engagement at the very top of the organisation. This is even more important when cascading your strategy down through the managerial levels. If the CEO doesn’t get social media, how can you expect anyone else to do so.

Another vital component is effective internal communications. If a company operates with a silo mentality, rarely exchanges ideas and is out of touch with its employees, how can you expect it to be ‘social’ with its customers?

Good internal communications should be the cornerstone for any successful business. And I would argue that any company that communicates well internally would naturally be effective on social media.

Good social media guidelines combined with specific objectives for social, a top-down understanding of the benefits plus good internal communications will all contribute to another key benefit of being a social business – a proactive approach to providing ideas for content.

The more employees can contribute blogs, photos, tips, images and ideas, the easier it will be for the content creator and community manager to post. In effect, you are creating an internal newsroom (read more on this here).

To recap then, here are my top tips for preparing your business to be social:

1.    Identify what business objectives will be met through social media
2.    Prepare a proper social media strategy
3.    Identify the channels you are going to use and create the correct content
4.    Appoint someone to ‘community manage’ your social media sites
5.    Create a social culture within your organisation
6.    Revisit your strategy