In the distant past, the fastest way to communicate with business was to write a letter. That was superseded by the advent of the call centre, which at first was a bold step into the great blue yonder. But a million recorded messages and irritating selections of lift muzak later, you realise that all you really want to do is to talk to someone, interact with someone.

When it comes to communicating with customers, both current and prospective, Twitter has become an instant interactive tool that stands out. It’s a very responsive and immediate way to help drive a business forward. Twitter can be an integral part of your business strategy. If you don’t have it yet, then take a look at the Calico guide to business branding.

Start up companies and independent business  can develop their own unique brand persona and show their understanding of customer needs via their twitter posts. Set up Twitter on your smart-phone and you can come across just as effectively as a multi-national corporation. Integrate your Twitter feed to your website homepage and in the eyes of viewers it comes alive with your interaction. It shows there is someone there, someone paying attention, someone to interact with.

When positive tweets are flying into your feed, it’s an opportunity to re-tweet the good news. If someone has been kind enough to say nice things about you, then spread the word – it’s good for business. If complaints from the twitterati land on your page, view it as an opportunity to show how responsive you are and how fast you can act to put things right. It’s an opportunity to turn negativity to positivity that should be grabbed.

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How to build a social media strategy

How to build a social media strategy

Over the last few years, social media has revolutionised communication for people and businesses alike. Most businesses now use social media to share content and provide a hub for customers to make contact but not all have a social media strategy and are failing to leverage its full potential.

A well thought-out social media strategy is fundamental to social media success. Failure to develop a strategy can result in a scattergun approach to posting content, wrong channel selection or failure to link to wider business goals.

1. Social media audit

The first step to defining your strategy is to audit your current approach and capture a snapshot of where you are now. This involves looking at your social media channels and recording:

• Followers/likes/connections

• Post engagement – RT’s, shares, likes, favourites & comments

• Google Analytics – visitor acquisition from social channels, blog visits and behaviour of visitors per social channel.

2. Setting your social media goals

Your social media strategy must be guided by goals that directly contribute to the larger business objectives of your company.

It’s common that a business goal to increase sales will be supported by a marketing goal to increase web visitors, which in turn can be supported by a social media goal to:

Generate 100 website visitors per month from social channels over the next 6 months

It’s important that your goals are SMART to enable you to measure whether you’ve achieved them.

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Rush to buy Kate’s Reiss dress crashes website – but clever social media alternatives to keep shoppers happy

Rush to buy Kate's Reiss dress crashes website - but clever social media alternatives to keep shoppers happy

The Reiss website crashed after Kate Middleton was seen wearing the Reiss ‘Shola’ dress due to the volume of traffic and fashionistas seeking to buy their own version of the £175 ($268) dress. The site has reportedly crashed twice, and appeared to still be down for multiple days following.

Clearly this is frustrating for the retailer hoping to leverage the media attention that such great publicity generates, and for shoppers who are commenting on their Facebook page about their inability to purchase the item.

Smartly, Reiss is providing alternatives through other social media, with their Twitter feed initially explaining about the website crash, and thanking everyone for their patience. The most recent tweets cleverly provide alternative routes to purchase, advising of the phone numbers to call in UK or USA to purchase the dress through that channel instead.

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