Successful international business relationships are based on efficient negotiations. It is important for negotiators to be prepared to deal with unexpected situations. Having a clear understand of what’s necessary to attain thriving outcomes as well as be aware of relevant factors to the whole process will permit you to become successful. Ideally some of your team would have background in Digital and Social Media Marketing, or International business; but, getting your online business profile ready for international negotiations doesn’t have to be such a dreadful endeavor. All you need to do is remain focused on the facts and look for a way to build a professional relation with business partners.
When piecing together your social media marketing strategy, it’s always useful to have a number of successful case studies to follow.
Forward Role Recruitment is a North West UK based recruitment company that specialises in the digital marketing industry. As the business is aiming to interact with online marketing experts, it’s vital that it has a solid digital marketing strategy of its own. Forward Role recently won the ‘Best Social Media’ award at the Marketing & Advertising Recruitment Awards in London, so it’s certainly a good example for other organisations to consider when drawing up their own social media plans.
Here are eight tips that you could aim to follow when drawing up your own social media marketing strategy.
1) Identify clear goals
A lot of companies start using social media for marketing purposes because they are told that it’s a good idea, but in many cases they don’t really understand why they are publishing content via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social channels.
Before you start, you need to identify your goals. For Forward Role, the overriding aim of the social media marketing strategy was to drive new and unique talent to the company’s website. In addition to this, Forward Role was keen to use social networking platforms to raise awareness of the brand and to garner positive reviews from happy clients.
2) Know your target audience
Producing generic tweets aimed at everybody and nobody won’t do you any favours. The Content Marketing Institute advises brands to create buyer personas, which isn’t a bad ploy at all.
It sounds bizarre, but by creating a made-up person who has specific interests and needs, you will find it easier to stay on track. Before you update your social channels, think about whether your post will engage these people. If not, don’t bother.
3) Figure out the best ways to measure ROI
This is where many businesses slip up. How do you know if your social media work is worthwhile if you aren’t tracking results?
Forward Role uses a number of different methods in order to measure the overall return on investment. Platforms like Followerwonk are particularly useful for assessing the reach of tweets and which posts have generated the most engagement, while the Insights function offered by Facebook also enables Forward Role to see which posts are performing well and which type of people are responding positively to these posts (Insights gives you an idea of who is ‘liking’, sharing and commenting on your posts based on their age, gender and other variables).
Most importantly, you need to analyse exactly how many new leads on your website are being generated by social media. This is where you need somebody who has experience of working with analytics tools, as they can identify trends that can shape your future strategies.
4) Think of the logistics
It’s crucial that you base your ongoing strategy on the data that has been garnered from your analytics. If tweets or LinkedIn articles about certain subjects have performed well, it would be foolish not to explore these same topics again in a fresh, creative way.
When tailoring your strategy, you need to bear the following in mind:
- How can I get my on-site content seen by as many people as possible?
- Which industry influencers are we looking to interact with?
- What can we do to get people talking about our brand?
- Can we encourage our happy clients to leave positive feedback?
- Are we capable of reacting to questions, criticism or just general chat from our followers within an acceptable time-frame?
The latter is a particularly interesting issue that is catching a lot of companies out. Research shows us that consumers are increasingly demanding when it comes to social media interactions. If you fail to respond to their tweet or Facebook message within an hour, there’s a chance they’ll start to harbour negative feelings towards your brand. Forward Role ensures that the logistics of running a busy social media channel are taken care of, with a member of the team always on hand to reply to incoming messages quickly.
When setting up your social media team, you should ensure that your staff are flexible, creative and fully understand how your brand wants to be portrayed in the public domain.
5) Think before you tweet
As this blog post by online marketing agency Bring Digital shows, brands sometimes tweet before they’ve had time to think.
This is understandable given the fact that consumers expect firms to respond to them in double-quick time, but tweeting in a hurry can end badly. Social media can be a ruthless place, with any mistakes – especially those made by larger brands – quickly going viral.
At Forward Role, we regularly get together to discuss the pitfalls of social networking. We sometimes recreate embarrassing scenarios, before discussing in depth how we would have dealt with the situation. It’s all about being prepared.
6) Be creative
Primarily, you need to ensure the content you post on social media is aligned with your end goals.
The Forward Role social team meet at the start of each week to discuss an agenda. Of course, the business already has a long-term social strategy in place (usually running on a quarterly basis), but in order to run successful campaigns, you need to make sure you’re fully up to speed on the latest industry developments.
Pinpoint which news items or announcements are generating debate in your industry, and then jump into these conversations, offering an alternative viewpoint wherever possible. For Forward Role, any news of a new Google algorithm update, for example, works really well, especially if we can provide a different, thought-provoking angle. By sharing relevant content – preferably from our own website – we can demonstrate that we’re on top of everything that’s happening within our field of expertise.
7) Run a blog in parallel to your social accounts
A large chunk of our social media strategy is heavily linked to the content we produce for our blog.
You only have 140 characters to grab someone’s attention on Twitter, but if you can offer them a link to something more substantial to read, you’re far more likely to interact with them. This is why article headlines are so crucial. There’s a fine line between spammy clickbait and boring, uninspiring titles, so you need to find the right balance.
Articles that have worked particularly well for us on social media include ’12 Types of Recruitment Consultants You’ve Probably Met or Worked With!’ and ‘Top 7 Graduate Mistakes When Applying for a Job’. These performed well because the titles inform the reader that they’re going to garner a certain number of tips from the articles and they are also based on subjects that our target audience will relate to.
‘How to’ articles are also effective most of the time. If you can gauge which questions your target audience are asking, you can instantly grab their attention by writing a piece that provides the answers. Again, this is where strong research comes into play, which is something that a lot of businesses tend to neglect or underestimate when planning their social media workloads.
Having an interesting, regularly-updated blog makes it much easier to drive traffic from Twitter to your website. It also gives you more power over the type of subjects that you will be talking about on social networking channels. One key tip is to ensure your onsite content and social strategies are intertwined.
8) Make a strategy… and write it down!
You’ll be amazed at how many brands fail to actually write down their social media and content strategies.
Research shows that having a documented strategy is more likely to lead to success, which really shouldn’t surprise us, but clearly there are a lot of businesses that think they can store all of their plans in their heads. Make sure your strategy is written down and then review it on a regular basis. If your KPIs change, for example, you need to refresh your strategy, so don’t lock it away for months on end.
This free Search and Social Media Marketing course can offer some further steps towards a successful social media strategy development.
Two of Scotland’s leading politicians illustrate an interesting phenomenon on Twitter. In the wake of the Scottish National Party’s surge in popularity following the independence referendum, Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond have both gained large numbers of followers. Both have now amassed more than 100,000 each, with Salmond out in front with about 139,000. A high proportion of them are fakes, however.
These fakes might be what social media specialists call “sock puppets” – fake accounts of individuals pretending to be someone else. These online imposters often follow celebrities to make themselves look more authentic, along with other tricks that include constant automated re-tweeting and constantly following and un-following other users.
What is the point of these sock puppets, you may be wondering. One obvious advantage is that they can be parcelled up and sold in batches to people and organisations seeking extra Twitter followers.
Buy twitter followers to make me popular!
Social media is one of the fastest-growing areas of marketing. One study in which I was involved concluded that there is indeed no such thing as negative publicity if Twitter is used effectively.
Organisations and individuals realise that having a healthy social media following increases trust from prospective customers. You want everybody to know your business is popular. You can build a strong following by developing good content and relationships with other users, particularly those who will either help amplify your message or act upon it.
This takes time, however, not to mention the human resources required to plan and engage with your following. So people are sometimes tempted to take shortcuts, including buying Twitter followers, retweets, Facebook likes or YouTube video views. You name it, it can be bought. Sometimes they might do it themselves; sometimes it might be the social media agency that manages their account, or even a sub-contractor.
Nor does this cost a great deal. Visit some websites offering these services and you find that thousands of Twitter followers can be had for as little as £5.
Such shortcuts certainly seem to be popular. Data from the Google AdWords keyword research tool shown below reveals that on average, more than 40,000 searches are conducted per month that use the keyword “buy twitter followers”.
Google AdWords screenshot, January 12
Is it worth it?
If the followers are simply accounts that do not have any human interaction or just re-tweet everything that your account says, they are of very little value. A number of studies suggest that simply having a large number of followers does not indicate that you have an influential Twitter profile.
What is more important is that viewers can see that the account has been recently updated and the content is not simply a monologue about the great things that the organisation offers. Twitter is a social platform and although there is room for sharing content, it is also about listening and engaging with others. If an account interacts and replies to its audience, it is usually much more useful and influential compared to an account with thousands of followers but does not tweet to them.
A number of tools exist that can help people analyse the value of their Twitter profile. For instance Sprout Social looks at engagement and influence. Here’s what it makes of Alex Salmond (139,000 follows) compared to Salford Business School (2,000 follows):
Salmond might have vastly more followers, but his account actually scores slightly lower than our business school. It is worth pointing out here that you would expect an account that has lots of fake followers to score badly on these metrics.
Another good analysis tool is FollowerWonk. Here’s what it has to say about David Cameron, Nicola Sturgeon and Salmond:
I’ve included the follower numbers for context, but you can see that criteria such as engagement, average followers per day, total tweets and average tweets per day are also used to show the success of an account’s performance. We can clearly see that Nicola Sturgeon is much more active compared to the other two accounts. David Cameron is still attracting more followers per day, however, which could be due to his high profile or because he is a more popular target for those celebrity-following sock puppets.
It is worth adding that fake accounts are not something Twitter encourages, as its spamming rules make clear. Twitter wants to remove and suspend these accounts, partly because it could undermine its own advertising-based business model. This is backed up by advertising regulators such as the UK’s Committee of Advertising Practice, whose non-broadcast-advertising code requires that any paid social-media endorsements be declared to the consumer of that information.
In short, purchasing fake Twitter followers is both a waste of money and considered spam. It is not about your number of followers but how engaged they are and how useful these are in pursuing your objectives.
On the other hand just because an account is not behaving as expected by the norm – not tweeting, for example – it is not to say it is a fake. The vast majority of internet users are “lurkers” – interested to read content but don’t want to share their views. If you are one of these lurkers, beware. Your account might be suspended or blocked if you don’t change your image from an egg to your profile and you don’t attempt to engage with others!
International negotiations over email can be extremely unpredictable. Losing a good deal can happen extremely fast if you’re not prepared. People are used to various bargaining styles in markets like China, India, USA, and the Middle East. Some people are calmer and more relaxed; others are aggressive and overly-confident.
What’s great about online negotiations is that opponents cannot use conventional techniques to intimidate. Written words are not intimidating, tone of voice and body language are. So it’s safe to say that when used right, negotiations over email can help you land the sweetest deal.
1. Building rapport with international negotiators over email
It’s tough to build rapport over an email, especially if you’re dealing with international negotiators. In Europe, people have different perceptions and their email etiquette varies. Here are some examples:
- Danish people are tolerant, helpful, and open with foreigners; however, they don’t feel comfortable including personal matters when talking business
- Swedes are realistic business people; they don’t like conflictual situations and they’re more open to compromise and making concessions
- Germans are target-oriented, direct and professional; some may consider them too cold and precise, yet they’re reasonable and logical
- French people are patriotic, and sometimes that can be considered a defect; if you want to impress French negotiators, send your emails in French. They will certainly appreciate it
- Greeks are extremely welcoming individuals; they’re used to foreigners and they’re friendly, even in business negotiations
2. Keep your eyes on the prize
Never take your eyes from the prize, even if you’re bargaining online. Just because you’re trying to settle on an international deal over an email, this doesn’t mean you are allowed to leave your guard down.
Be prepared to answer emails very fast, and try to be as concise as possible with your demands. Some Europeans are friendlier than others, which is why it is so important to understand the culture of the person with whom you’re dealing with.
3. Never take things personal
Germans and French are business-oriented individuals and characterise Western European countries, but this doesn’t mean they’re bad people. Negotiations should be pursued in the most professional way possible, even if they’re done over email. On the other hand, in Southern European countries such as Spain, Portugal, Greece and Eastern European countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, email negotiations have a friendlier tone. Of course, it’s really important to stay professional and maintain a polite attitude.
If you’re the type of person who is a little bit shy and anxious, asking for what you want in an email may seem a lot simpler. It’s ok to be willing to compromise; however, this doesn’t necessarily mean giving up too much. Have a deeply rooted goal in mind, and use suitable words to make your negotiation email both convincing and rational.
4. Know the people with whom you’re negotiating
One of the toughest parts of online negotiations is that you can never really know the person behind the other computer. It could be a skilled negotiator or a newbie with a flair for fancy words. If you have to deal with international negotiations over email, do some research and get to know the culture first. For example, Americans are independent and they would rather work alone than in a team, while the Japanese work in groups and they’re extremely focused on teamwork.
Europeans have different principles, too. Try not to make cultural mistakes when dealing with Polish people. Know basic aspects such as cities, government official, national days, and so on, if you want to impress a negotiator. Adopt a similar approach with the British, who are extremely fond of their country and of their customs and traditions.
Online, things are a bit different. You are 100% sure that you’re talking to someone in China, when all of a sudden you end up sending emails to an assistant from a different country. If you want to know the person you’re bargaining with, ask the right questions. Mention specific facts and numbers ask for proof for every allegation made, and be polite. Just because you’re emailing this doesn’t mean you can be rude. Use words carefully and keep things professional.
5. Add a personal touch to your approach
International negotiations over an email can be extremely challenging. Many business people are skeptic when it comes to closing deals after a couple of messages. The key to making an opponent trust you, is to add a personal touch to your negotiation strategy. Since you can’t use conventional techniques, you must work with what you have to win. Share your LinkedIn profile with your partners for example, let them get to know you, assess your work and your background. They can make a general opinion, which means your chances to seal a good deal will increase automatically.
Dealing with international negotiations online may seem challenging at first, but with some negotiation training, you will eventually make it. Trying to reach an agreement just by emailing will certainly put your patience to the ultimate test. Be honest and rational, and ask for what you want without sounding too persistent. At the end of every email, don’t forget to disclose as much information as possible about you and your company, in order to build trust and let a counterpart know that your business is an open book.
Social Media in Spain 2014 – time for dramatic change. Due to a substantial growth on smartphones and tablet sale the social media landscape has moved on to a new high. As a Spanish MSc Marketing student at Salford Business School, UK, I notice that consumers spend an average of four hours a day online, more and more through their mobiles and tablets. According to a Comscore report, the number of users of smartphone and tablet in Spain increased by 70% last year and more than 4 million Spaniards own a tablet. Companies should take advantage of internet mobile marketing in Spain, as Mobile E-commerce is bound to be a future trend in Spain.
Teenager segment: Twitter beats Tuenti
Spanish social media network Tuenti has lost 58% of its users in the second half of 2013. Most of them are moving to Twitter. One of the reasons of this change is the greater interactivity of Twitter and the growth of Internet enabled Mobile phone. Besides, Tuenti is associated with teenagers, while Twitter isn’t. However, Tuenti is expanding to Latin America, so it still can recover its position.
Instagram is the new Fotolog
Tuenti’s users have also moved to Instagram, because of the synergies with Facebook, its new owner, and the growing number of smartphones and tablets at the moment. Although Instagram is “The King” amongst the younger public, Tumblr is also starting to get popular, as Fotolog once was.
LinkedIn grows in a professional niche
LinkedIn is growing as the professional option and so is Google +, although Google’s social network lacks in interactivity, even if the number of users is growing. LinkedIn has more than five million of users in Spain and it is thought to grow in 2014 due to the slow economic improvement.
Videos and TV
Apparently, Spaniards spend quite a lot of time watching videos and socialising on their mobile phones, over the EU average. 2013 has been the year of viral videos. Leisure and entertainment are the most demanded contents, followed by news and viral videos. That’s why some companies have used YouTube viral videos in their promotion strategies.
Microblogging + guerilla marketing = Menéame
Blogs are very popular in Spain and microblogging site Menéame is a way bloggers see their posts reach boosted. Basically, it is a news aggregation service where users decide the relevance of the content. So, bloggers send their stories to Menéame (“shake me”, in Spanish) and the posts with more votes get published and quickly spread via Social Media. Quite often Menéame stories become trending topic on Twitter. This website is related to guerrilla marketing communication, as they publish the information which conventional media don’t usually divulge. So, it is a niche for non-profit organisations to see their messages published.
It’s a great time to invest in Digital Marketing in Spain. What is your opinion about the developments in Spanish Social Media? Share your feelings with us.