Ensuring your employees are at the heart of a successful social media strategy

From interviewees being asked for their Facebook passwords, to the UK’s first LinkedIn tribunal, there’s been a lot of talk recently around employee activity in social media and how this has implications not just for their own work, but also for their organisation’s reputation. Based on our recent research and work with organisations such as the NHS, City & Guilds, and Red Bull, RMM has identified a trend towards organisations building their own internal understanding, knowledge and skills around social media.

And it makes perfect sense that at the heart of these capabilities should be a workforce using social media to exchange information and build relationships. Well known examples of organisations that have generated real business value by doing so include Dell and Best Buy.

However, many employers still continue to view their employees’ use of social media as a Pandora’s Box. They fear that if they open the box any wider they will increase the risk of an employee performing an action in social media that critically harms the brand. This reticence can often be counterproductive; a recent study showed that less than 20% of organisations firmly believe that their employees knew how to represent them in social media. With more employees more active in social media every day, an organisation must take a proactive and constructive approach to providing social media guidance.

A set of basic social media rules posted on the corporate intranet will not suffice. Organisations need to follow a process of employee understanding, education and support to ensure they not only mitigate potential risks, but generate the maximum value from their employees’ activity in social media.

In our experience, two key criteria will help an organisation determine how, and how quickly, it can ‘socialise’ its workforce. First it needs to understand the existing level of skill and knowledge within the organisation’s workforce in regards to social media. It then needs to understand the speed with which it can up-skill and increase knowledge whilst retaining full control of the process and managing the level of social media activity.

We typically see three stages in an organisation’s cycle of socialising its workforce:

 

  • Stage one’s objectives are to protect the brands reputation and prevent crises from originating from employees’ use of social media. This stage is the foundation upon which an organisation’s future social activity should be built. The key to success here is in striking the balance between prescriptively forbidding certain actions and empowering employees to proactively engage in positive actions.  Equally important is communicating to the workforce the ways in which their responsible use of social media is good for both their career and the organisation’s wellbeing.
  • The objective of stage two is to increase operational efficiency. The key to success here is in helping employees realise that effective knowledge management and collaboration using social media can make their lives easier as well as saving the company time and money.
  • The objective of stage three should be to strengthen customer relationships by enabling a proportion of the workforce to talk to customers and answer their questions via social media. The key to success here is in creating a system which allows employees to manage networks of customer relationships in social media while building their own knowledge, skills (and potentially their own personal brands).

The success of all three stages relies on the fact that the activities performed are mutually beneficial for the organisation its employees and its customers. In this way the organisation will create a knowledgeable, motivated and focused group of employees, which understands how, when and why they should use social media.

Seven tips for perfect email marketing

With so many elements and factors involved in creating an email marketing campaign perfectly optimised for maximum response, it can be easy to forget the basic principles that lead to successful email campaigns.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of guidelines that are essential to effective campaigns and better results.

Promote Sign-ups Everywhere

Adding new people to your mailing list is one of the most important things in email marketing. It is therefore of utmost importance to promote sign-up whenever and wherever possible. From Facebook to Google+ and offline, any opportunity you neglect may be one your competitors are taking. It also pays to review all touch points you have with your clients and prospects to see if you have a clear and up-to-date opt- in statement. Don’t be afraid to use the same tone in your opt-in statement as you would in other parts of your email, but be clear on what you will be doing with the data you collect and sell in the benefits of subscribing.

Avoid large or all images in your email

Apart from the fact that some companies have a limit on the size of incoming files, image emails can also trigger spam filters that could move your emails to the junk folder. Images are also turned off for around 45% of email client by default so it’s critical to test graphical vs non-graphical performance on a behaviour basis. Remember, no matter how great the creative, your copywriting or promotion, this will not make any difference if it is never seen

However, graphical email, when seen, can look stunning so we should consider when to use them. It is worth testing your database by sending a more graphical email to those users who you can see from open, click and ROI rates are very engaged with your brand. You can also use heavily graphical emails certain circumstances if you have been certified as a sender by an organisation such as Return Path, it would be easy to select all @hotmail and @yahoo domains for example and send them a different creative.

Nail your subject line

The subject line is one of the best ways to sell your email. Make this catchy and interesting and people will want to read more. 35% of recipients will open an email specifically because of the content of the subject line. Make sure you’re testing different subject lines and making the most of the opportunity to discover what works best. I have seen tremendous opening rates for longer subject lines when users can see them in full for example on a wide screen laptop. So fear not about having a longer subject line, but remember that not everyone will see this in its entirety therefore make sure you put the key message or your brand in the first 20-40 characters to ensure those who only see part of the subject line can tell who the message is from and what it is about.

Front load the most important information

It is very important to get the key elements of your subject line as high up as possible into the body of the email. Get your key message above the fold, including a call to action and don’t forget to make sure it is just as effective on horizontal and vertical preview panes. Messages that use colour backgrounds to images stand out even when images are turned off. I would also make sure you mention your brand in web text somewhere above the fold for those scanning their inboxes.

Personalise email wherever possible

Our 2011 Hitting the Mark report found that over two-thirds (69%) of emails are sent without any personalisation whatsoever. Including recipients’ names is the most basic element of this. It’s also worth considering dynamic content that shifts the design and products referenced for ultimate relevance. This is the key to building that one-to-one feeling.  Remember there are different types of dynamic content. Content that might always be present for example address and contact information of your local store / office.

Get the right database

An excellent email with excellent offers in the wrong inbox is useless. Always try to build your own database and remember that the data you collect is always more effective, achieving much higher engagement and ROI rates, Users will recall opting in and giving their permission to you to mail them. If you are mailing an older in-house list for the first time in a while or you have had to source 3rd party data, be sure to send a non-commercial welcome first. Introduce yourself ,explain what they’ll be receiving, why you think its of value to them, where you got there data from and give them the option to opt out. This gives you the opportunity to look like one of the good guys and stops them reporting your email as Spam which could have implications on your delivery for willing recipients.

Make sure your email is optimized for mobile

With  a massive 68% using email on a mobile device, it is important to make sure emails are optimized so that recipients can access them on the go. Many Email Service Providers (ESP’s) will be able to provide you statistics on the numbers of recipients  opening your emails on mobile devices. If the number is very significant you can always consider the use of Media Queries, which can change the way your emails are presented to the recipient based on the device they are reading it on. It is also very important to complete the whole user experience by focussing time and attention on the mobile onsite experience as this is the area that often lets more recipients down rather than the emails appearance in the inbox itself.

Consumer trust in online advertising growing

The firm’s Global Trust in Advertising survey, which is based on data from 28,000 internet users from 56 countries, also found that 36 per cent of consumers trust online video ads.

Another 40 per cent trust the ads they see displayed in search engine results, which is up from 34 per cent in 2007.

Sponsored ads on social media sites, such as Promoted Tweets, were deemed trustworthy by 36 per cent of those polled.

Randall Beard, global head of Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen, said: “The growth in trust for online search and display ads over the past four years should give marketers increased confidence in putting more of their ad dollars into this medium.”

Mobile advertising was also examined in the survey, with one-third claiming they trust the banner and display ads that they see on their smartphones or tablets.

A further 29 per cent trust mobile phone text ads, which is an increase of 21 per cent from 2009.