Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Airbnb – 3 steps to success

airbnbTop 3 reasons Airbnb has been so successful.

Airbnb is an online platform allowing people to rent their living space to visitors. It follows many of the conventions of a peer-to-peer sales site, for instance both parties getting the opportunity to review one another to promote security and peace of mind.

Airbnb quickly harnessed the power of social media as it’s essential to get spotted online and to attract the right sort of attention. Although it was founded only seven years ago, the San Francisco-based company, Airbnb, is now a global phenomenon. Like many giants, it’s considered a disruptive force in the tourism and hospitality industry.

People often make the mistake of thinking success in business is a direct result of the novelty of the idea it’s based upon. The idea itself is important but only a small factor in a business’s success or failure. What matters is how the idea is executed.

So how has Airbnb achieved such influential status and widespread adoption? There are four key reasons:

#1 Growth hacking techniques

One of the main factors behind the early success of Airbnb was its growth hacking using aggressive online marketing tactics. Airbnb expanded very quickly by piggybacking on the reach of community listing site Craigslist. It employed creative tactics to do this by apparently posting fictional room ads on the site, messaging users who posted in the room ads category to spread the word about the Airbnb offering. These ninja development tactics resulted in rapid growth.

#2 Agile timing to meet demand

Airbnb’s founders also launched at a clever time: coinciding with a massive local conference that meant local hotel rooms would be in short supply. Offering alternative accommodation secured instant gratitude form both the guests and the hosts.

#3 Strong imagery

Travel is a visual product, with people attracted by beautiful beaches, stunning architecture and amazing accommodation. Image-led social media has been a boost to the travel industry. Everyone from agents to hotels and airlines use social media to engage with followers.

Airbnb recognised the need for strong imagery and in the early days, the site sought to raise the standards of room photography on the site by sending professional photographers round to shoot the properties being listed and improve the attractiveness of the site. This had the effect of making the site look more professional and adding greater security to the purchase decision. This encouraged more exclusive properties to join the site.

#4 Online availability

Data suggests that over one third of holidays are now booked online. Many clients browse for travel deals via their mobile phones. Social networking is a great way to attract clients even when they are not currently shopping, and to generate ideas about their next trip which will move them to book. These networks may be designed for socialising, but they also offer a place to view new opportunities and offers – and it is here that travel companies can make their mark. Airbnb adopted a ‘mobile first’ approach ensuring that potential customers could easily see, find and share great places to stay.

How other tourism firms use social media

Airbnb are not alone in adopting many of these techniques. We know that hotels operate using ‘flexible pricing’, changing rates as demand increases. Imagery is also essential from the inside of the plane to the hotel pool. This has not been missed as others have improved their imagery and adopted social media:

  • Booking platforms including LateRooms.com and Expedia have been nominated for awards due to their social media strategies. Both brands use a range of social channels to speak to their audience, and have seen a rapid growth due to these online campaigns.
  • Hilton Hotels and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line have seen a great engagement with millennials since they took to Twitter and Instagram to show off their premises and ships.
  • Airlines are getting in on the act too – KLM and Emirates have huge numbers of followers on Twitter and Facebook, while Etihad makes sure to post every day and keep its followers in the loop.

 

 

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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Podcasts for business

podcasts for beginners

How to use podcasts for business.

Podcasts are a useful online marketing tool for business. Podcasts are a cost-effective addition to the digital marketing mix and a great way of bringing your brand to life by building a more personal relationship with your audience.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is a digital audio file that is made available on the internet, and can be listened to either on a portable media player or a computer. Generally, brands and personalities will create a series of podcasts to which users can subscribe: a subscription means that every new podcast will be sent automatically to the subscribers’ devices.

How to start podcasting for business

While podcasting can prove helpful for many businesses, there are three things that every brand should know before taking their first steps.

1. Create a sustainable podcast concept

Coming up with an idea for the first podcast is often simple. However, will you be able to run with the same theme week in, week out? While it’s important to fill a niche that has a strong listening audience, it’s equally important to ensure that it’s not so niche that you run out of ideas.

2. Invest in the podcast basics

While the microphone built into your computer may seem like the easiest option, you need to bear sound quality in mind. Poorly recorded podcasts will put potential listeners off from the start. It won’t be an expensive outlay, however; a basic microphone and headset can be bought online for under £100.

3. Share the podcasts

Once you’ve created your podcast, you’ll need to ensure that it’s listened to. But how do you find your target audience?

  • iTunes has an enormous, well-engaged base of podcast subscribers, and can’t be ignored; and asking your listeners for positive iTunes reviews will move you up the rankings and help your target audience to find you.
  • YouTube is also a good place to share your creations, while links to your podcasts should also be shared across social media platforms, on your website’s blog page, in your email newsletters – anywhere you can.
  • Search for other podcasters in your niche too. It’s possible that you can trade promotion of each other and both benefit from new fans.

 

Podcast distribution and tools

If you’ve had a podcast for some time, it’s important that you start to build its audience. This is where the question of distribution comes in. There are a large number of channels through which you can host and promote your podcast, but in general it’s best to pick one and stick with it. It might be tempting to maximise your reach by hosting everywhere, but all you’ll do is fragment your audience, harm your listener counts and create extra work for yourself.

Podcast tool #1

Soundcloud is a popular and common choice, as it offers good name recognition, embeddable podcast streams, and an intuitive comments system for listeners. While it’s not exclusively built for podcasts, it’s a highly flexible platform and at only £8 per month for unlimited hosting can be an affordable choice.

Podcast tool #2

Acast is a platform built specifically for podcasting, and, under the tagline “makes good stories great”, it combines a professional appearance with simple controls and is free. It allows uploaders to sell premium content directly to listeners – ideal if you have the occasional longer shows which require more time and effort. If you want to retain control of your material, you can provide an RSS link and Acast will automatically make the show searchable on the platform. Or you can join them as a hosted podcast and earn revenue through ads or sponsorship.

Podcast tool #3

If you have sufficient bandwidth on your server, HTML5 makes it simple to stream audio directly without the need for an external host. But you’ll need a strong social media strategy to make sure it’s seen by the intended audience, and taking this option can suck up a lot of money in hosting costs if your listener count is high.
As a business trying to connect on a personal level with your clients and industry, a podcast can be a great part of your digital strategy. It can help people understand your approach and listen in a relaxed way to what you have to say.

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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Short-form content essentials

Short form content

Discover short-form content.

Short-form content uses concise wording to quickly convey a message to readers and tends to be less than 1000 words in length.

Twitter is possibly the leader in this field and short-form content is used to catch readers’ attention and draw them into their paid, owned or sponsored media.

Why short-form content is needed

Readers tend to skim short-form content for important information as opposed to absorbing every word. Its short length means it is usually very easy to digest and maintain readers’ interest.

 

Where short-form content works well

Short-form content is particularly effective on mobile platforms, when readers may be busy or on the go and don’t have time to read something of length. As short-form content is so mobile-friendly, it has the potential to reach more people.

 

How to succeed with short-form content

Short-form content is often very visually appealing. It tends to feature a mix of words, images and videos. Examples of short-form content that can be consumed by readers quickly include:

  • Listicles, such as those produced by BuzzFeed
  • Infographics
  • Videos as some types of short-form content don’t feature any written words at all, like Vines. Using short-form videos as a form of storytelling is a new trend that is emerging on many social media platforms.

Short-form vs long-form content

There has been much debate about whether short-form or long-form content, which is typically around 2000 words or more in length, is more effective for marketing purposes. Although short-form can be read and digested quickly, it tends to only provide a quick overview of a subject. In contrast, long-form content is written to educate and inform the reader, yet needs to be interesting enough to maintain their attention until the end of the piece.

Rather than being used as click-bait to increase website traffic, as is sometimes the case with short-form content, whitepapers, ebooks and other types of long-form content can be used to build a site’s authority. Insightful, detailed posts hold genuine value for readers, who will return to the site in anticipation of more educational content.

In terms of SEO, long-form content performs better than short-form because it is likely to generate more backlinks, thereby increasing the content’s credibility. Surprisingly, long-form content is often shared more than short-form.

It’s wise to use a mixture of both short and long-form content as part of your digital marketing strategy. Short-form can be used to engage the reader, increase site traffic and reach as many people as possible, while long-form can help to build a site’s authority and demonstrate expertise.

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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Twitter chat for business

Twitter chat

Read about Twitter chat for business.

3 Ways to use Twitter chat as a useful business tool

Having a social media presence is now commonplace for most companies. Whether you’re running an ecommerce store or operating a niche B2B service, chances are you’ll be familiar with the platform and how it works. Twitter chat is an essential social media marketing tool.
You might not, however, have given any thought to using #Twitter chats as a form of marketing.

Twitter chats are essentially conversations built around a specific set of hashtags

You might have even used them during your personal communications on Twitter, without realising they can be utilised by your business as part of your digital marketing strategy to increase brand awareness and achieve company goals. Here are 3 ways you can use Twitter chat as a business tool.

#1 Use Twitter chats to host a virtual seminar to engage with prospects

You may be using social media advertising to drive conversations, but did you know that you can build stronger relationships with existing customers and convert potential customers by hosting your own virtual Q&A session?

By running a weekly Twitter chat based on a topic relevant to your business interests, you can expect to easily and efficiently engage with new and existing audiences.

 

#2 Use Twitter chats to build brand authority

Do you want your business to be regarded as an authority on all things relevant to the services and products you provide?

Appearing as a guest on a Twitter chat is a great way to gain kudos as an authority – let’s say, for example, you’re a mechanic that performs car modifications. By contacting a popular motoring blog and offering to do a live Twitter chat, you’ll instantly endear yourself to petrol-heads up and down the country.

 

#3 Use Twitter chats to forge one-on-one relationships

Customers love to feel important, and there’s no easier way to make your customers feel extra-special than engaging with them on a one-to-one basis.

Search for hashtags relevant to your business – are people tweeting about you? If so, engage them in conversation – say thank you for any compliments and address any negative press is a public social setting so that everyone can see just how committed to customer service you are.

And don’t forget to ensure you have a great Twitter bio and do also consider advertising or promoting your Twitter chat to get more people involved.

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Top tools to schedule social media content

Social media scheduling tools

Read about top tools to schedule social media content.

Busy adding content and not able to take a holiday? Scheduling tools allow you to add social media content, months in advance and take a break!

What is scheduling?

Scheduling a post means instead of it being published right away you can choose a time or a date that it will be published. This means that you can still publish interesting content to your followers, even if you’re not in the office!  There are several tools to help you schedule posts and here we cover three of the most popular social media scheduling tools.

Hootsuite, Buffer or Tweetdeck?

Three of the best known social media scheduling services are Hootsuite, Buffer and Tweetdeck. While Tweetdeck focuses purely on Twitter, Hootsuite and Buffer can encompass all your social media accounts including Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and LinkedIn.

When devising your social media strategy, you need to think about what accounts you will be using, how often and for what. If you only run three accounts for your business (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for example) then Hootsuite or Buffer may suit you perfectly.

 

Hootsuite – the free option

Hootsuite’s non-subscription, free service allows you to operate three social media accounts without paying. Hootsuite offers a variety of features that set it apart from other social automation tools such as;

  • The ability to manage accounts on multiple sites from one, easy to use dashboard. Hootsuite supports Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, WordPress, Myspace and Foursquare.
  • Hootsuite enables its users to schedule an unlimited amount of updates on each of these social media platforms with an in-built auto-scheduler that pinpoints the ideal time for a user’s posts.
  • A URL shortening feature means that users have all the tools available in one place to easily curate and share content from other websites.
  • The inclusion of a ‘Hootlet’ extension on Google Chrome and Firefox makes it simple for users to share content from a variety of sources.
  • Hootsuite not only allows users to post and schedule social updates but also respond to posts and receive messages.
  • Using its filter streams, Hootsuite members are also able to monitor conversations, trends and topics across all social sites, not just their own profiles and pages.
  • Hootsuite’s custom reporting and analytics tools make it ideal for agency users who require software to provide their customers with detailed reports showing the ROI of social activities.
  • A mobile app also allows users to access their Hootsuite account away from the main website.

There are also some negative aspects to using Hootsuite and users have found that:

  • In order to take full advantage of all the features offered by Hootsuite, time must be invested to learn how to properly use the software.
  • Hootsuite is available for free, however this version is limited and there is a significant cost involved for full use of all its features.
  • The URL shortening feature only allows owl.ly domains to be used unless users wish to pay extra to use a different domain. This means that it is apparent to other users that the social updates have been automated.
  • The Hootsuite mobile app is also disappointing in terms of its social support. Users are not able to access as many networks as they can when using the website and those they can access are controlled independently of the web account. Meaning updates created through the mobile app cannot be seen or edited when logged into the web account.

Buffer – the paid option

Buffer’s ‘Awesome Plan’ allows you to schedule content for up to 10 accounts for just $10 per month.

  • Buffer is similar to Hootsuite as it provides a solution to automating social updates for multiple accounts from one central location. Providing a way to simplify sharing, Buffer;
  • Allows users to manage multiple social network accounts from its dashboard. These include Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Buffer is very simple to use and can be picked up easily.
  • The buff.ly URL shortening feature makes it easy to share links to other websites. Also users are not restricted to using the in-built feature and can instead choose to use bit.ly or any other URL shortening application.
  • Buffer also has a bookmarklet that allows its users to share content from other websites. The Buffer extension also integrates itself into the social applications, for example, in Twitter a buffer re-tweet button appears next to the normal re-tweet button.

Buffer is also not without its downsides:

  • Buffer’s free account is severely limited in terms of how many items a user can queue. The ability to queue an unlimited amount of posts comes at a cost of $10 per month.
  • The free version of Buffer also limits the number of social profiles that can be managed from one account. Users are only permitted to manage one profile per social network using the free software.

 

Tweetdeck – Top for Twitter

If your digital marketing strategy is mainly focused on several Twitter accounts you would be better suited to Tweetdeck. This allows you not only to add as many accounts as you want, but it also has handy functions like the ability to make lists so you can follow specific hashtags or topics. Another useful feature is the ability to see messages and notifications alongside your tweets and news feed.

The downside to Tweetdeck is just that – it is only for Twitter. This is not much use if you have a range of different social media accounts you need to use.

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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Mobile payments

Mobile payments

Find out about mobile payments

Mobile payments are becoming increasingly popular among businesses – and with good reason. Perhaps most surprisingly, increasing numbers of small-medium enterprises are utilising the technology at part of their digital strategy – proof positive that online marketing and mobile payments are helping smaller firms compete on an even keel without the need for large systems or complicated tech.

But how exactly can smaller businesses implement mobile payments as part of their wider digital marketing strategy? In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the main reasons to consider going mobile, and how your business can benefit.

Mobile payments often work out cheaper than credit cards

You might be surprised to learn that some mobile payment platforms actually charge less per transaction than large credit card companies. Credit card companies can charge anywhere between 5 and 10 per cent of the overall transaction (some more than others – this is why many do not accept certain types of card) in comparison to just 2.75 per cent from some mobile payment providers. By encouraging people to pay via mobile, you could end up saving hundreds or even thousands over the course of a year.

Mobile payments allow your customers to pay via credit card

Smaller businesses, such as mobile catering vans, popular at festivals at this time of year, have often struggled by not being able to justify paying to accept credit cards for such a low turnover. Think also about being at an exhibition or other event without your usual payment facilities.

However, this cash-only model is becoming antiquated as increasing numbers of people go digital or plastic. The ability to accept cards via mobile payments immediately increases both your customer base and potential for sales, and mobile payments are a cost-effective means of accepting payment from these customers.

 

Increased checkout speed

Speed is one of the largest factors in customer service. Put simply, paying is typically a customers’ least favourite part of the shopping experience, and if it takes a long time chances are they may be concerned that a payment isn’t going through – forcing them to go elsewhere. Mobile payments allow customers to pay quickly, without even having to reach for their wallet. Mobile payments essentially allow you to serve more customers per day.

 

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Thursday, 4 August 2016

The State of Digital - the SoDA report 2016


The SoDA Report is The Digital Society’s biannual publication of insights from both marketing clients and agencies.

The report is a mix of insights and stats, as well as in-depth essays and showcases from The Digital Society's members. The element that's of interest to marketers is the 'Modern Marketer'  as it is focused on new opportunities in digital, social and advertising technologies.

Key takeaways:
  • Marketers adopt innovation
  • Strategy moves back to centre-stage


The full report as a presentation is available here






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