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Using An Online Meeting To Talk With Your Subscribers

How do you bond with people you have never met? Talk with them.

Harald Merckel

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How many of your email subscribers are active? If subscribers feel you are irrelevant, they will unsubscribe. End of relationship.

Using Social Media

Communicating with blog subscribers using social media channels is superficial and less than satisfying.

Nobody feels loved when they see one of your tweets or Facebook posts. You need to get personal to have any impact.

Twitter chats using tools like TWchat can help your tribe members to feel involved. Facebook groups can foster a sense of group identity, too.

But if you want true communication then you need to talk to people face-to-face.

Related: Got A Social Media Following? You Can Turn It Into A Business. Really.

Why an Online Meeting?

Words represent only 10-40% of the meaning in a conversation. So, if you are only using text-based media to communicate with subscribers they are missing out on 60-90% of what you are trying to say.

An online meeting where people see you talking and read your body language is the answer. It is the closest you can get to a face-to-face meeting with blog followers who are scattered around the world.

A small online meeting of 10 – 25 people is perfect for making personal contact with blog subscribers. Each attendee feels valued and appreciates the time with you. The number is small enough that each person can make a meaningful contribution, yet is not so small that talking to all your subscribers would take until the end of the century.

Online Meetings – The Software

online-meeting-software

A webinar is usually used as a broadcast medium where one person needs to speak to hundreds of others, rather than a discussion or meeting of minds. It doesn’t have to be like this.

Your dream meeting software will:

  • Be free
  • Include recordings
  • Allow recording to pause
  • Allow multiple presenters with the ability to mute camera/microphone of any standby presenters
  • Be fast, with high-quality video
  • Be integrated with social media applications
  • Allow you to embed an online meeting into your web page

Dream on – No meeting platform has all of those features. You will always need to compromise in some areas.

Make a list of essential features you need from your meeting software and check that your chosen solution has all of them. Read the marketing literature carefully, because no company will ever mention the features they don’t have.

Many webinar platforms have a free option, but these rarely have any recording capability. There is even free software you can use. Blab and Google Hangouts are two great free options. Both have recording options, and both allow attendees to comment in notes, but each has severe limitations. Blab only allows four people to participate in the video chat at a time. Google’s Hangouts have quality issues with time lags on the ten video feeds it can accommodate.

Online meeting software such as ClickMeeting is designed to suit small groups such as those that will interest most bloggers.

ClickMeeting has a feature whereby you can assign a spare video/audio feed to any attendee, so you can bring in any attendee who has something helpful to say and rotate spare video feeds between attendees. The lowest cost ClickMeeting subscription allows two presenters with video/audio feeds and higher-cost subscriptions allow four presenters.

Related: Five Basic Features Visitors Expect From Your Website

Planning Your Online Meeting

Online meetings give you as a blogger the chance to listen to the problems your subscribers have. You can always guess what your subscribers want to discuss, but a better option would be to survey them using free such as SurveyMonkey.

You will need a microphone and webcam because the built-in mic on your laptop will generate feedback if you have the speakers on and the tiny lens on the built-in camera means that video quality will be poor. Nobody is going to participate in your meeting if they have to watch shoddy video.

It is a good idea to have a team member alongside you when you hold the meeting because that person can handle all the muting of microphones, answering messages and solving any technical problems that crop up.

Publicising Your Meeting

Start with a few small-scale meetings with one to three people invited. These will help you to become familiar with the software. You can also post screenshots of these meetings to your blog, upload the recording to your YouTube channel or even embed the whole meeting into a blog post.

Write a few blog posts about your planned online meeting. These will attract anyone who has subscribed to your RSS feed. Be sure to direct readers to your earlier small-scale meeting recordings.

If you use an email subscription management you can send out alerts and reminders to everyone who has subscribed. It is best to send only two reminders, so people don’t become tired of your emails and unsubscribe or mark them as spam.

There are some great tips here on using your social media channels to spread the word. Remember to think “Visual.” Make gifs, memes, and promotional videos.

The one consistent message you need to get across in all your marketing is that your online meeting is about attendees and how they will benefit. You need to make it clear that there will be no sales pitch, no hard sell and that it is only help that is being offered.

Harald Merckel is a freelance writer whose primary focuses are business, e-gaming and marketing. Although he loves tech gadgetry as much as the next guy, Merkel prefers to write with pen on paper. Merkel has a B.A. in Business and Communication from HWR-Berlin, where he was active in the Studentenwerk Berlin organisation. He has been a proud Berlin resident since the late 1990s.

Online Marketing

Custom Content Via E-commerce Heralds The Future Of Marketing

Informative, catchy content is key to ecommerce engagement. It is an affordable marketing strategy with high impact on ROI.

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Content does not demand huge resources; a blog can be launched fairly quickly. However, consumer attention spans are pulled in many directions, so they demand the best on offer.

Peer pressure

With two hours per day spent by the average person on social media, it makes sense to harness the potential of these platforms for product inspiration and building hype and desirability of your brand. Studies have shown that most consumers value posts written by other consumers above scripted advertising. Advertising does still have a role to play, but the approach needs to be fresh in enhancing customer experiences alongside customers’ peer reviews to build relationships.

Millennials are so aware of an oversaturated market place that they are difficult to sell to. Images and messages are easily crafted and edited into being what they are not.

Likewise, influencer support can be faked or bought. Supposed sponsorship can be off-putting when relied on in excess to lend gravitas to a post. While influencer endorsement is rife, it must be approached with discernment. Fake engagements are equally rife. From buying followers to staging fake boosting of your friends’ posts, fraud is everywhere, but ultimately cannot sustain.

Related: 3 Ways To Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing

Value +

What does sustain is authenticity, and this is what Millennials are searching for. Brands are wise to allow consumers inside the real stories that make their brand what it is.

Consumers value brands that stand for more. Ethics, social welfare, and edu-commerce. Content that encourages development, both personal and communal is a draw card. Enlightening consumers as to how to get the most out of your products means you are concerned about maximizing value. In the age of ecommerce, transparency and authenticity, brands need to be clear on their vision and mission. In this way, a brand can consistently stay true to its values, and build relationships and trust with the consumer. Next level transparency means revealing all aspects of what makes your product what it is; taking pride in manufacturing, reviews, and individual relevance.

Omni-potent

Shopping via the ecommerce is undeniably where it’s at for a myriad of reasons. Ease of price and product comparison, convenience, Generation X time constraints and techno affinity are all factors. Consumers now expect a slick, omnichannel shopping facility that meets their unique lifestyles and personal needs. A majority of customers value customer experience over price when choosing a brand. With sound content enhancing ecommerce engagement, the future of marketing has great potential.

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Staying Relevant In The Facebook Age Of Meaningful Social Interactions

With Facebook announcing that it is pushing brand and publisher content out of news feeds, how can businesses, especially small and medium enterprises in South Africa, remain relevant?

Madex

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It was deemed a “rude awakening” early in January 2018 when Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that the social networking platform had changed its algorithm, basically meaning it had changed what users see on their news feeds.

This follows a pretty harsh year for Facebook, where it was criticised for not having the right countermeasure to stop the spread of fake news and propaganda. So now its set of rules has changed; bumping up users’ friends and family members’ status updates and photos, and underplaying public news articles and content published by brands.

But where does that leave the small or medium businesses reliant on communicating their brand messages through Facebook? How do they now reach Facebook users (estimated to be approximately two billion)?

There is still a way

jodene-shaer“’Meaningful interaction’ is not something new to Zuckerberg’s focus on how brands engage with their Facebook audience,” explains Jodene Shaer, international business owner and head strategist of social media engagement specialist, Chat Factory.

Related: 5 Marketing Missteps That Make Cash Flow And Business Growth Stumble

“There is a place for paid media, but if a brand is trying to be seen organically, then it must feel like it is part of the flowing content people want to see from friends and family. It is pushing for the reason that Facebook was created in the first place – to be social.”

Authenticity key

Truly embracing the power of live videos and video content on Facebook – and then creating reasons for the public to engage with those posts – is an excellent move for any business that is budget conscious, Shaer adds.

“The ranking for visibility of organic content is highest when live. Live videos are absolutely the route to go, as followers receive a notification that you are live and there is greater chance of visibility. A big advantage is that you can save that content to the page and it becomes shareable, and can be uploaded to YouTube, where there is still a strong call for business content.

“And it doesn’t have to be high budget either, but it must be authentic, informative, engaging and encouraging. Of all things, ensure that all comments are responded to and shares and reviews are acknowledged.”

Looking beyond Facebook

Shaer believes that smaller local businesses can make their ad rands stretch further on Facebook by moving onto Ads Manager, instead of simply using the Boost button. “The reach is different, so invest in watching some YouTube videos as tutorials,” she recommends. “Boost to unique target audiences and turn the boosting into a science, by watching your reach. Set up smaller boosts and spread your spend across a few posts instead of one big boost. Track your stats and see which audiences work best.”

“One way that South African SMEs could also make use of InstaStories, as these are gaining organic reach. They could also look at varying hashtags, but using a few to reach a very specific audience.

Related: Marketing Tips For Start-ups

“We’ve seen the opening up of the use of LinkedIn and had people return to using the power of Twitter, so it’s worth investigating how to maximise other platforms while trying to keep your budget low.

“None of this should put a small business off, but should create exciting and challenging opportunities to shift how social media is used and explore the outcomes of each post, to truly develop a social media presence,” she adds.

Shaer will be one of an entire panel of dynamic, expert presenters speaking at the upcoming Madex 2018 show, the ultimate marketing, advertising, design, social media and all that good stuff expo.

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Online Marketing

How To Market Your Hotel

An integrated digital marketing strategy that provides multiple channels to communicate on will help you to reach more potential customers.

Entrepreneur

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It’s imperative these days to enable customers and guests to interact directly with your brand in real time – and your ROI will reflect this success. To achieve this, your marketing team should utilise a number of different channels in order to achieve an integrated digital marketing strategy.

Why? When potential customers are only able to use one means of communication or booking platform, such as a hotel’s website or blog, Facebook, Twitter or a third-party booking site, their frustration could cause you to lose their business.

Your digital strategy

how-to-market-your-hotel

By engaging in an integrated digital marketing strategy and addressing multiple channels with a clear, consistent message, you are bound to reach the maximum number of potential customers. Through the creation of a larger online presence, your engagement reach will be far higher, solidifying your company’s brand in the best possible manner.

Related: 5 Marketing Missteps That Make Cash Flow And Business Growth Stumble

Your first step in achieving an integrated campaign is to determine your target market. The second step according to Robert Nienaber, managing director of Suiteres, is to “create a message – tell a story about your product or service and what makes it unique.

For instance, the history of your establishment’s location, the nature/wildlife, your amazing food or historical rooms or perhaps the owner’s unique story. Tailor that story for your target market to captivate them – they will buy into your brand as a result.” Be sure to keep your message consistent across all mediums, be it written, photographic or video.

According to Ivo Kittel, head of Development & Design at Suiteres, different channels can be described as such: ‘These consist of website and online booking systems, third-party channels – such as online travel agents or your global distributions systems – and social media platforms that support the aforementioned and drive traffic to them.

‘Print media, events and other offline techniques can also assist by driving clients to visit your website or to engage with you on social media. All these channels should be strategically linked for best effect.’

Online marketing

An unusual hero in the travel market? Smart phones and tablets, on-the-go devices that allow users to review and recommend hotels on social media profiles, as well as third-party sites. Together with the integrated digital marketing strategy, this increases potential customers’ connections to hotels, airlines, car hire companies or event organisers.

What’s more, a key driver in drawing in new customers and causing previous ones to return, is the offer of regular perks, benefits, freebies and discounts via a newsletter.

Bear in mind though, that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Each company will have differing concerns and requirements, and these are what you should use to build an effective marketing campaign. The following should be noted:

  • Effective communication between marketing team members is essential. There needs to be collaboration across the multiple channels you’re utilising. In doing so, your overall offering will be streamlined and have maximum effect.
  • Choose your key channels, those that will receive the most attention and marketing spend. These need to be the channels that garner the most hits or collect the most bookings – also known as ‘converting’.
  • Determine your target market and get as much information as you can on them, over time. For instance, which platform do they opt for first? Do specials lead them to make a booking, and if so, what are they? This and any other informative data assists you in your decisions and allows you to use your marketing funds in the best manner possible.

According to Vanessa Rogers, head of Communications at Suiteres, ‘The above-mentioned strategy should ideally be supported by a skilfully crafted PR campaign – one designed to complement and support your marketing message.’

Related: 3 Ways To Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing

Taking this into account, you should consider having relevant articles published on third-party websites and print media or arrange for a client to be interviewed on radio or a streaming site. These forms of PR are more cost-effective then an advertising campaign.

The details matter

Importantly, customers need to know they can contact you quickly and easily, whether they are making a booking or requesting additional information. One thing you can be certain of: if a customer is unable to communicate efficiently with you, they are very likely to book elsewhere.

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