In a world of Kardashians, be real

An American Family is often credited as being the first proper reality TV series to hit screens in 1973.  It was a fly-on-the-way documentary that followed the lives of ordinary couple Bill and Pat Loud and their five children.  Containing arguments, affairs, and ultimately divorce, it caused a furore in America and changed the face of television forever more.

The model of reality TV didn’t change much over the years and became a ‘social norm’ for those growing up in the noughties, which saw an explosion in such series.  Programmes like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Big Brother and Masterchef were churning out reality tv stars by the week and, suddenly, we had a whole new type of celebrity.

We found ourselves swamped with reality tv stars everywhere we turned – tv, magazines, every type of opening imaginable and, of course, online – and so was born the ‘Influencer’.  It was the growth of social media though that really exploded the power of these influencers and brands began falling over themselves to be associated with the ‘celeb of the moment’.

As with all fads, the reality tv sector eventually reached saturation and we started to tire of the ‘z-listers’.  We wanted something new, something authentic and real.  We grew tired of scripted ‘fake reality’,  we wanted real people in real life circumstances.   And so dawned the era of social media influencer – real people, just like you and I.

Popular online influencers tend to be bloggers or vloggers on certain topics – fitness, clothes, make-up, parenting, cooking – the list is endless.  It takes a huge amount of hard work to make it as an online influencer and build a following large enough to attract brands to use your influence as paid promotion.

This type of marketing has exploded in recent years and focuses on influential people, rather than the target market as a whole.  A brand identifies individuals that have influence over potential buyers and orients marketing activities around these.  It works because people buy from people they trust.

Social Media Influencers focus on particular genres and build a following of similar minded people.  They are in a position to build ‘real’ relationships with people who brands also want to build relationships with.  Influencers reach consumers via their blogs and social networks and their marketing clout has been steadily growing along with the popularity of platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.

According to recent research, 70% of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions.  The same research found that 30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity influencer, as they relate more to these and value their opinions more than that of celebrity influencers.  And that really brings us to the crux of the current controversy – the issue of transparency and trust.

Influencer mkt

The appeal of non-celebrity influencers centres around our ability to relate to them.  They invite us into their lives, their homes and their families, and become our ‘friends’.  A study by Altimeter Group showed that out of the influencers surveyed, 71 percent say their followers remain engaged due to the influencer’s authenticity…but what happens when an influencer isn’t being authentic?

In a world of millennials, where the line between the online and offline worlds has become so diluted as to almost be invisible, these online influencers are as authentic to many as ‘real-life friendships’.  They trust and believe these people, so when they make a recommendation, that carries a lot of weight.

For a long time, many influencers were getting away with blatant advertising cloaked as ‘friendly advice’ until the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) started to clamp down on them and insist on transparency when being paid to promote products.  We now see bloggers using the likes of #promotion #sp or #ad to let us know that the post is a sales promotion.

While that was certainly a step in the right direction – although not every online influencer has been following the ASAI’s Code of Advertising Standards – it still left a huge grey area in terms of transparency.  What happens when a blogger isn’t being paid for a promotion but is instead receiving free products/perks from a company in lieu of promoting same?  Surely this should be subject to the same rules as paid promotions?

Unfortunately not, and so it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish between what is genuine advice and what is paid promotion anymore.  For me, this reflects a huge violation in terms of honesty, decency and truthfulness – the very core values on which influencers build their following – and ignores the bloggers’ responsibility to those followers and society as a whole.

Many of these Influencers are role models that their followers aspire to, especially the younger generation.  They wield a lot of power and that’s why transparency is so important.  Much of the current controversy has focused on the use of filters, or worse still, photoshop to alter images, thus creating unattainable body goals for many young influential followers.

There has also been concern that certain influencers have used cosmetic surgery, fillers, botox, etc. while claiming their enhanced looks are due to certain products.  A recently set up Instagram account under the handle @bullshitcallerouter has been calling out influencers on their false advertising, re-posting various pictures which had clearly been altered or photo-shopped.

So where to now for influencer marketing?  Onwards and upwards it would seem given the continued growth of social media.  Hopefully, however, the current focus on the area may force a more transparent and honest approach from influencers and encourage the brands they work with to take more responsibility for the type of content being created in their name.

As the mother of a young girl, I certainly hope so.

Karen Twomey is a freelance Public Relations and Social Media Consultant with Communications Hub  For further information Tel: 087 7642576 or email: Karen@communicationshub.ie

 

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Why Email Marketing Works

Did you know that email marketing delivers up to 40% more return than all the other social media platforms combined (Forrester Research, 2015).

With this in mind, it’s time to dust off the MailChimp account and set about reconnecting with your customers through well thought out email marketing campaigns.

Still not convinced?  Check out these stats….

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(Weblizar.com 2017)

And, if that isn’t enough – here are even more great reasons to include email marketing as part of your business’s digital marketing campaign:

  • It’s cost-effective
  • It’s easy to produce
  • Allows for excellent targeting
  • Provides detailed feedback & analytics
  • It’s a great tool for building relationships

Building a good list of email addresses can take time, but it’s time worth spending.  What you’ll achieve is a mostly organically grown list of genuinely interested customers/potential customers and that’s so much more worthwhile than more dubiously put together lists.

It should go without saying – but just in case – NEVER buy an email list.  It’s a recipe for disaster and can ultimately do more harm than good to your reputation.  Also, keep in mind the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which come into effect on 25th May replacing the existing data protection framework under the EU Data Protection Directive.

Instead, build your list through useful and engaging content, special offers and by offering value.  Also, promote your email marketing campaigns on your website and social media platforms and create a lead magnet to entice your audience to sign up.

And remember, always get permission before engaging in email marketing, be honest and transparent about who you are and what you offer, and always include an opt-out/unsubscribe option.

Other than that, happy emailing!

Communications Hub

Karen Twomey is a freelance Public Relations and Social Media Consultant with Communications Hub  For further information Tel: 087 7642576 or email: Karen@communicationshub.ie
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SCSI Annual Rural Seminar 17th Nov

I’m delighted to have been asked to speak at this year’s Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland Annual Rural Seminar taking place on Friday 17th November at Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise.

Before I took the plunge and returned to college to do my masters, I spent 10 happy (well, mostly!) years working as an auctioneer.  I was lucky enough to begin my career in a thriving property market that was just about to be picked up and carried away by the beast that was the Celtic tiger.

Marketing in the property world in those days consisted mainly of glossy brochures,  carefully designed sales packs and expensive media advertising campaigns.  To be fair, there wasn’t a huge need to be too inventive – properties were selling like hotcakes and there was plenty of money to spend on outsourced marketing.

Like the Celtic tiger, I too took off running for the proverbial hills towards the end of the noughties.  The property market was nose-diving, with little sign of a safety net to break its fall.  Even then though, it was hard to believe just how bad this recession was shaping up to be.  The property market became an incredibly tough game and, like so many other young auctioneers, was no longer one I could afford to stay playing.

(www.tlaxcala-int.org)
(www.tlaxcala-int.org)

That was eight years ago and we’re only now beginning to see auctioneers start to recover, and begin to progress again.  I recently did some work with an agent who told me that the last 10 years have been mostly about ‘survival’ and it is only now that they can afford to focus on growing and investing in the business.

Technology has changed enormously in those lost years and with it communication and marketing techniques.  This has left a lot of property professionals struggling to keep up and utilise these new technologies to effectively market and sell.  The demise of print media has also pushed those involved in sales to turn towards the online world of promotion.

Digital marketing is by far the most effective form of promotion available to businesses today.  It is user-friendly, extremely cost-effective and easily measurable.  And we haven’t even mentioned the fact that 70% of us in Ireland now research goods and services online.  It’s a no-brainer.

So when I was asked to speak at the upcoming SCSI Annual Conference, I jumped at the chance.  The property market is one I understand and I know the benefits that embracing the online world can bring to it.

At the conference I will be looking at areas including an overview and benefits of social media usage, identifying and using the right platforms for the right audience, content writing and identifying and contributing to local media opportunities.

I’m looking forward to my brief return to the property market and hope to see plenty of familiar faces in the crowd!

 #DigitalMarketing #CharteredSurveyors

Karen Twomey is a freelance Public Relations and Social Media Consultant with Communications Hub  For further information Tel: 087 7642576 or email: Karen@communicationshub.ie

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Latest Stats for Social Media Use in Ireland

According to a recent survey by Ipsos MRBI on Social Media Statistics in Ireland, Facebook account ownership dropped in Ireland to a low of 59% in April before returning to January 2017 levels of 64% in August.

Communications Hub

It’s a small dip, but still represents a significant indicator of how social media platforms are developing in the current social and economic climate.1.695* million adults aged 15+ in the Republic of Ireland use Facebook on a daily basis.

The drop doesn’t take away from the fact that Facebook is still the number one social media platform in both Ireland and the world, with 1.695 million adults aged 15+ in the Republic of Ireland using it on a daily basis.

TWITTER

A big winner so far this year has been Twitter, which after a few quarters of negative or no growth, has seen an increase of users of 6% – the highest level of growth experienced across all social media platforms in 2017.

Communications Hub

INSTAGRAM

After a growth of 6% from June 2016 to January 2017, Instagram remained stagnant with 28% of the Irish population having accounts.  56% of those with accounts use Instagram daily, making it the second most used platform, behind Facebook, in Ireland.

IG trend data

TINDER

Another platform which has been holding steady now, both this year and last, is Tinder.  5% of the Irish population currently have Tinder accounts, showing that the popular dating app is going nowhere anytime soon.

AND THE LOSERS… Communication Hub

Other social media platforms that experienced drops included           Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest.  No great surprise to see Pinterest in that category given it has been performing poorly now with the last few quarters – despite a temporary jump in January this year.

All in all, there were little surprises in the recent statistics on social media use in Ireland.  What the figures do show, however, is that while certain online platforms may increase and dip in popularity over the course of the year – social media is going from strength to strength, both for personal and business use.
Karen Twomey is a freelance Public Relations and Social Media Consultant with Communications Hub  For further information Tel: 087 7642576 or email: Karen@communicationshub.ie
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Social Media for Business Mallow College

I’m delighted to announce that I will be running my Social Media for Business Course as part of the Autumn 2017 night course schedule in Mallow College of Further Education.

As a business, social media is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to reach customers and create awareness around products and services.  This 10 week course will help you to understand the best social media platforms for business, as well as the most effective type of content to engage users and enhance your company’s online presence.

The Social Media for Business course will touch on managing online reputation, the best online platforms to promote business, how to create engaging content, how to save time using content calendars and online scheduling, effective blogging, email marketing campaigns, and how to boost search engine optimisation through digital marketing.

For further details or to book your place see the Mallow College Evening Course Autumn 2017 Prospectus

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Skydive for Liam’s Lifts

On 5th August I’ll be taking part in a fundraising skydive along with members of the Fermoy NRG Networking Group to raise funds for Liam’s Lifts, a community-based service that provides transport to members of our community who attend oncology appointments and treatments in Cork City. This service is provided on an entirely voluntary basis.

This incredible service is provided on an entirely voluntary basis by members of the community who give up their time to support those affected by cancer.

How it works:

Liam’s Lifts collects each passenger from their own home and drives them to the hospital or clinic where the treatment or appointment is arranged.  The driver will wait until this is completed and then drive the passenger home again.   This is a free service that operates on an entirely donation basis.

If you would like to sponsor this great cause you can do so online through our Go Fund Me Page at: gofundme.com/skydive-for-liams-lifts or see our Facebook page for more details.

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WordPress & Blogging Workshop 24th May

Want to increase your profile online?

I’ll be running a WordPress & Blogging Workshop on Wednesday 24th May from 7pm until 9.30pm in Fermoy Community Youth Centre. This workshop will talk you through the basics of creating a WordPress website/Blog, Content Management Systems (CMS), SEO, Plug-ins and writing for an online audience.

Cost: €25.00 p.p.and booking is essential as numbers are limited.

For further details or to book your place contact Karen Twomey at 0877642575 or karen@communicationshub.ie
parent-child_communication_101

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Why Social Media Scheduling Works

When I do social media training with businesses I never leave without having set them up on an online scheduler and, without fail, it positively affects their ability to produce good quality online content.

The benefits of using a scheduler include saving time, enabling better targeting and making it easier to implement a well-planned content calendar.  An online scheduler will also allow you to view all of your online profiles on one dashboard, which makes for easier measurement of analytics.

And they’re not the only reasons why you should be using one…

LISTEN TO YOUR AUDIENCEwww.communicationshub.ie

Monitor your brand, your competition, and what your customers are saying about you on social media.

ENGAGE WITH CUSTOMERSwww.communicationshub.ie

Never miss an opportunity to connect with your audience or join conversations that are important to your brand.

MEASURE YOUR SOCIAL ROI www.communicationshub.ie

Make smarter, data-driven social media marketing decisions with confidence, so you can grow your business and your revenue.

 

My favourite scheduler is Hootsuite which supports social network integrations www.communicationshub.iefor Twitter,  Facebook,  Instagram,  LinkedIn,  Google+,  YouTube, Blogger, and much more.  It also has some great downloads such as:

  • Hootlet – ‘Find & Share Anywhere’. Quickly and easily share content to your social networks from anywhere on the web
  • Hootsuite App – Free mobile app to schedule, publish, and monitor conversations
  • Hootsuite App Directory – Collection of extensions and applications business professionals can add to their Hootsuite dashboard to create a customised experience eg. Dropbox, Gmail, Google Drive, Mailchimp, Review Tracker, Survey Monkey, Vimeo.

While Hootsuite works for me, there are other options out there too such as Everypost, Buffer and Social Oomph.  Several custom pricing plans are available, and each can be tested out through a free trial period.

Conclusion

Each social media scheduler has advantages and special features, but it all comes down to what you personally prefer.  Whichever one you choose, just make sure your business is using one.  You’ll reap the benefits, I promise!

Karen Twomey is a freelance PR & Social Media Consultant who specialises in online campaigns and social media training.   For further details check out her website  www.communicationshub.ie

 

 

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Social Media for Business Course Fermoy 25th April

My next ‘Social Media for Business’ Course will take place on Tuesday 24th April from 7 p.m. – 9.00 p.m. in Fermoy Community Youth Centre.

As a business, social media is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to reach your customers and create awareness around your products and services.

This 2 hour course will teach you:

  • The best online platforms to use for your business
  • How to create engaging content
  • How to save time by using content calendars and online scheduling
  • An introduction to blogging, email marketing and SEO
  • How to manage your business’s online reputation.

Places are limited and cost €25.00 per person.

For further details or to book your place call Karen Twomey on 0877642575 or email: karen@communicationshub.ie

Communications Hub

 

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Strike a Pose Email Marketing!

Email Marketing is officially back in Vogue!  It has returned from the wilderness and is no longer the poor relation of social media marketing.

Forrester Research (2015) found that email marketing delivers up to 40% more return than all other social media platforms combined.  A strong statistic indeed.

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are some more reasons why your company should be investing in email marketing campaigns?

  • It is cost effective
  • Relatively easy to produce
  • Emails can be targeted
  • Provides detailed feedback
  • Helps build company relationships

So, how do you build an authentic email list?  For starters, never buy a listing.  It may seem tempting when you are starting off, but it’s hard to trust the quality of bought lists and you will increase your prospects of being labelled a spammer.

It’s far better, and more rewarding in the long-term, to organically grow your email list through website sign-up, social media promotion and encouraging sign-up at events and exhibitions.  Of course, offering incentives – such as discounts or pre-sale previews – also works well.  After all, who doesn’t love a bargain?

Some further statistics to keep in mind when designing your campaign is that 33% of emails are opened based on subject line alone – so be interesting, first impressions matter.  Almost 40% of emails are now opened on mobile devices, the screens of which, on average,  only fit 4 -7 words.

Communications Hub

MailChimp is my favourite email marketing service.  It’s used by more than 15 million people globally, so I’m clearly not alone.  It’s a great platform for designing emails, sharing online and tracking analytics.  Did I mention it’s also free?

So, email marketing is back and there’s no reason why your business shouldn’t join the party!  But before you do, here are some basic etiquette rules you’ll do well to follow:

  • Always get permission before signing someone up
  • Include opt-out/unsubscribe options within 2 clicks
  • Don’t use 3rd party lists
  • Be honest and transparent about who you are

Happy emailing #emailisback #digitalmarketing

Karen Twomey is a freelance PR & Social Media Consultant who specialises in online campaigns and social media training.   For further details check out her website www.communicationshub.ie

 

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PR, Digital Marketing & Online Training