Why Your Business Needs to be on LinkedIn

When it comes to LinkedIn, I’ll admit I’m a relative newcomer…but like most people who discover things later in life that they enjoy, I’ve taken to it with gusto.

In fact, it’s swiftly becoming one of my favorite social media platforms.  And, I’m not alone.  According to IPSOS MRBI Social Networking Quarterly, LinkedIn registered a 5% increase in Irish users from September 2015 to January 2016.

With almost 30% of Irish professionals now having accounts, LinkedIn is becoming the social network of choice for those looking to build professional connections and showcase their skills.  And where the online masses venture…businesses quickly follow.

The benefits of LinkedIn in business are multi-faceted.  Not only is it the natural place to attract and headhunt for top class staff, but it also provides invaluable opportunities for B2C and B2B networking. Best of all, it offers companies an opportunity to grow their brands in an affordable, flexible and interesting way.

Still not convinced?

Here are even more benefits of having a company profile on LinkedIn:

  • Makes a brand more credible.
  • Improves SEO.
  • Helps personalise a brand.
  • Showcases products and services.
  • Targets specific audiences.
  • Allows for customer interaction.

While Facebook and Twitter may still be the more popular social media platforms in Ireland, those on LinkedIn (over 300 million worldwide) are there for a completely different reason – to grow and promote themselves and their business.

To really impact online, LinkedIn must form part of a social media strategy for Irish companies.  Regardless to the size of your business, maintaining a well-managed LinkedIn page will boost your company’s profile and ultimately, your business will reap the benefits.

For more information on social media strategies for your business, contact Communications Hub today.
Communications Hub
(business2community.com)
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Local Enterprise Offices (Cork) CIT Prize for Innovation

There has been a record number of entrants for this year’s Local Enterprise Offices (Cork) CIT Prize for Innovation, which awards €10,000 in cash prizes to inventions and business ideas judged most creative, novel, innovative, and likely to succeed in the workplace

The prize forms part of Cork Institute of Technology’s Innovation Week 2016 taking place all this week across CIT’s five campus locations with a series of events and activities promoting entrepreneurship and innovation.

The applications for this year’s prize offer proposals from a wide variety of disciplines.  The field of technology features strongly with entrants such as Touch – a digital alternative to tradition notice boards, and Flashbox – a combined USB flash drive, battery pack and Bluetooth locator for mobile devices, just some of the creative proposals.

Mental health was also a popular focus this year with the promotion of a holistic approach to coaching, mentoring, nutritional advice and mindfulness for women forming one business idea, while various APPs supporting and promoting positive mental well-being were also submitted.

Last year’s first prize winner was sole trader and founder of the Roll Out Vegetable Garden Company, Cara Tremayne from Dunmanway, Co Cork.  Cara, who was a fourth year Horticulture student at CIT, picked up a cheque for €4,000 and the title of CIT Entrepreneur of the Year for her roll out coco coir woven matting impregnated with vegetable seeds.

“To finish fourth year after winning the Prize for Innovation made me feel so positive and driven towards making my own business a success and becoming self-employed.  It gave me huge hopes for my future,” said Cara, who was the first ever female winner of the prize.

Other prize categories awarded as part of the Prize for Innovation include Most Innovative Award, Best Business Plan, Best Presentation Pitch and Best Exhibition Stand.

The CIT Prize for Innovation is sponsored by Local Enterprise Offices (Cork).  Further details available from www.cit.ie/innovationweek.

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CIT Innovation Week 2016

Cork Institute of Technology’s Innovation Week 2016 will kick off on Monday 7th March with an official launch taking place around a supersized box in the main Atrium of the CIT Bishopstown campus.

Pic. Provision
Pic. Provision

The launch sees the unveiling of the larger than life CIT Innovation Week 2016 box which promotes all aspects of innovation and creativity, as well as paying homage to past winners of the Local Enterprise Office (Cork) sponsored CIT Prize for Innovation.

The week-long event includes a wide range of seminars, exhibitions, workshops and demonstrations. The highlight of the week is the Local Enterprise Offices (Cork) CIT Prize for Innovation which awards €10,000 in cash prizes to those whose inventions and business ideas are judged most creative, novel, innovative, and likely to succeed in the workplace.

Last year’s first prize winner was sole trader and founder of the Roll Out Vegetable Garden Company, Cara Tremayne from Dunmanway, Co Cork.  Cara, who was a fourth year Horticulture student at CIT, picked up a cheque for €4,000 and the title of CIT Entrepreneur of the Year for her roll out coco coir woven matting impregnated with vegetable seeds.

Pic. Provision
Pic. Provision

“Innovation Week is a celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship across the many disciplines and campuses of CIT.  Throughout the week we will be showcasing seasoned entrepreneurs, many of whom are trading internationally, as well as students who have come up with business and App ideas” says Carole O’Leary, Industry Liaison Manager, CIT.

Other prize categories during the week include NIMBUS Product Development Prize, The Apprentice, Bank of Ireland Business Canvass Wall, CIT CodorDojo Competition and Build Your Own Rocket Workshop.  The competitions are open to all students registered at CIT during the academic year.

CIT Innovation Week 2016, which is now in its 6th year, will take place from 7th – 11th March across CIT’s five campus locations.  Further details available from www.cit.ie/innovationweek

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Why Video is now King

Move over Content, there’s a new King                  in town….

With video content now receiving up to 60% more online interaction than photos, it’s becoming a key part of content marketing strategies.

According to Cisco video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic by 2017 and video-on-demand traffic alone will have almost trebled.

In the U.S. mobile video ad spend is growing faster than all other digital advertising tactics.  EMarketer states that $7.46 billion was spent by companies on digital ads, an increase of 42% from 2014.

Social media platforms are reaping the benefits of this shift to video, with Facebook reporting 8 billion video views daily, while Snapchat delivers over 7 billion videos to users each day.  This represents an unbelievable growth of almost 50% in video usage on Snapchat in just 4 months.

In this era of information overload, video is naturally engaging and easy to digest.  It also delivers a message in a more personal way, evoking more passion and emotion, and creating better community engagement.

Here are some useful tips when creating video content:
  1. Be Passionate, not attention grabbing -your audience will know the difference.
  2. Be engagement-driven, not hit driven – communities are built on interaction, not selling.
  3. Think small to achieve big – creativity wins over cost of production.
  4. One size does not fit all – have a multi-platform video strategy.

Online video is set to continue its rise and will remain an important element in marketing and communications strategies going forward. 

Ignore it at your peril!

For further information on communications and marketing strategies for your business, contact us today.

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Online Crisis Management – Be Prepared!

In this era of social media and mobile devices, news spreads faster than ever before.  The web has removed control from those who create content and a crisis can develop in seconds. 

This is why it is vital that companies have an on-line crisis management strategy in place – long before it is ever needed.

When developing an online strategy, we must understand the ethics and rules of digital media and how crisis management on-line may differ from that off-line.

According to Chris Norton online crisis management can be separated into three stages – pre-crisis, crisis response and post-crisis evaluation.  An online crisis typically creates a spike in comments, shares and engagement, the conversations around which are generally negative.  During this crisis, it is essential to monitor and track what is being said and respond immediately.

An online crisis typically creates a spike in comments, shares and engagement, the conversations around which are generally negative.  During this crisis, it is essential to monitor and track what is being said and respond immediately.

When putting together a strategy to deal with on-line crisis, the following should be included:

  • Those who will form part of the crisis management team.
  • Pre-draft templates for on-line content – these can be pre-approved by legal teams to speed up their delivery.
  • The communication channels to be used.
  • An outline of how people can and can’t behave across on-line communication channels.

Finally, a crisis management strategy should have a strong focus on internal communications.  Those associated with the party will need to know what happened, what they should do and how the crisis will affect them.

All information regarding the crisis should be shared and updated regularly with all those who communication on behalf of the company to ensure all outward communication is consistent.

It may be impossible to pre-empt every online crisis, but we can certainly make sure we’re prepared for when one does occur and that the right procedure is followed.

Contact Communications Hub now and let us help you put together an effective crisis management strategy.
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New Year, New Marketing Tools?

Happy New Year to all!  I hope everyone is refreshed after a break and ready to take 2016 by storm!

I may be the exception here, but I love January.  It’s a great month to take stock and plan the year ahead.  It’s also a time to try something new.  To think outside the box.

It’s so important in business to ‘step outside the building’ every now and again, and a new year is a great time to do this.  We’re all guilty of complacency, especially when things are going well.  But to continue to be successful in business, we must always look ahead and stay ahead.

This is especially true when putting together a marketing strategy for your brand and your product.  How will 2016’s strategy differ from that of 2015?  How will you ensure that you continue to reach your customer?  And most importantly, that they connect with your message?

The best way to do this is to make sure your marketing strategy is current and relevant.  Of course, creative content will alway be the best way to do this – freshen up your website, start blogging and use social media content to connect all your platforms together.

It’s also important to research what industry influencers are saying about future trends.  According to the Huffington Post the following five trends will drive social media marketing in 2016:

Micro-Targeting Audience Segments – When consumers are faced with significant lifestyle events, like having a baby, moving house, or getting married, they are more open to changing their purchasing habits.  This means if you can send the right message at the right time, you have a higher chance of gaining their loyalty.

Importance of In-The-Moment Content – The popularity of streaming apps, such as Snapchat and Periscope, is continuing to grow.  A recent Comscore Report found that Snapchat is the 3rd most important social app among 18 – 34 year olds.

Consumer is now the Influencer – Thanks to social media, everyday consumers have built a follower base, giving them stronger voices and the ability to influence public opinion.

Micro-Video and Gifs – Young consumers are obsessed with immersive video and gifs as a means of expression.  Cinemagraphs alone get 60% more engagement than static images.

Messaging Apps and Emojis – These are providing quicker, simpler and more engaging opportunities for social media users to connect and look set to grow in influence in 2016.

All in all, it looks like 2016 will see the continued growth of ‘less is more’ with regard to content, as well as a strong reliance on video and live streaming to connect with consumers.  Snapchat looks set to capture even more of the commercial market, with more and more companies using the platform to advertise.  There’s little doubt that Facebook and Twitter will continue to be valuable tools for business, but companies will need to be clever and fresh in their use of content.

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Creative Digital Network Cork

I have had the great pleasure over the last few months of working with Cork Institute of Technology as group facilitator with the Creative Digital Network Cork (CDNC).

The CDNC enables networking opportunities among companies, start-ups and academics engaged in the digital industry in Cork.  It is an output of the Interreg IVC Medi@tic project and is supported in the region by Cork Institute of Technology and Irish Design 2015.

The group was officially launched by Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, in February 2015.  Since then it has continuously grown and now has almost 60 members from throughout Cork City and County.

CDNC members come from a variety of digital backgrounds, including web development and design, TV and film production, video game design and development, animation, motion graphics, apps design and development, and PR and Journalism.

The ethos of the group is to facilitate the sharing of ideas, research and business opportunities through organised industry events, as well as across its online platforms – CDNC Website, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

As part of my work with the group I had the please of meeting many of the members, hearing about their businesses and helping them to connect with other members and relevant industry influencers.  I also attended the Startup Gathering and Digital Week Skibbereen on behalf of the group.

Through the CDNC we hope to promote Cork as a digital hub and an attractive region in which to do business.  From this perspective, we have connected with Enterprise Ireland, Cork Innovates and Cork Smart Gateway and hope to work together in securing our vision for Cork.

My tenure as group facilitator is, unfortunately, coming to an end.  I will, however, remain an enthusiastic member of the group and I look forward to being part of the future success of the Creative Digital Network Cork.

Further details on the CDNC is available from its website www.cdnc.ie or email mediatic@cit.ie

CDNC

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Why Facebook Marketing Matters

Despite the fact that 70% of Irish businesses are now on Facebook, many still don’t take it seriously as a valuable marketing tool.  

It’s an accepted fact that newspaper readership is on the decrease, yet many businesses are still investing enormous amounts of their marketing budgets on print advertising.  It often seems more acceptable to some marketers to spend hundreds on a one-off advert in a weekly paper, then to invest that money into a long-term Facebook marketing strategy.

Why is that?

Communications Hub
(mudstershop.com)

It’s hard to say.  Some companies still view social media as a ‘kids game’.  That may have been true some years ago, but now, those kids are the very customers these companies are so desperate to reach. So whether we want to accept it or not, from here until eternity, all of those leaving college and entering the workforce will be digital natives.   A generation who live their lives through the world wide web – be it researching products, booking services or purchasing goods – it all happens online.

In Ireland Facebook is still the most popular social media platform, with 60% of the population having accounts. To put that into context – 2.4 million people use Facebook in Ireland each month. That’s a lot of potential customers.  The largest Facebook demographic is 18 – 24-year-olds, who make up 29% of the Irish audience, while women tend to be more active on the platform then men.

Although Facebook has experienced a slight decrease in users over the last year or so, it is still the most used social media platform in the world.  So despite the decrease in popularity, it’s hard to see Facebook becoming any less relevant in marketing terms over the coming few years.   In fact, in Ireland 70% of social media users follow brands and businesses online.  Talk about leading the horse to water….but of course, we all know the next line to that old saying….

So, the simple truth is – If you’re not investing time and money into marketing your business on Facebook, you’re quickly becoming irrelevant.  Call Communications Hub today and let us put together a successful social media strategy for you.  

Stay relevant online

Communications Hub
(insidestudyabroad.com)

 

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Digital Week Skibbereen

Digital Week Skibbereen
(wordkern.wordpress.com)

As I set off for Skibbereen early last Wednesday morning I was unsure of what to expect.  I had followed the growing lineup of speakers for National Digital Week with interest and was very much looking forward to attending some of the events.  As bad luck would have it the only day I was free to attend was Wednesday, Digital Week’s opening day.  That left me with a choice of two events – Future of Digital Education and STEM, or Farming 2030.  Having no connection or real interest (sorry!) in farming, except for being married to a farmer’s son – the non-farming one –  I quickly opted to attend the educational conference.

While I certainly have an interest in digital education and STEM, in truth there were other talks that held more appeal – Empowering a Billion Women 2020 & Social Entrepreneurship, and IOT Reimagining a Connected World, being but two.  But so it was on Wednesday morning, after a long two hour drive through commuter tail backs and twisty rural roads, I eventually arrived at the West Cork Hotel for my taste of Digital Week.

With no time for a much needed caffeine hit, I was ushered straight through to the function room where Dr Laurence O’Rourke of the European Space Agency was just about to take the stage.  As I settled into my seat my focus was drawn to those surrounding me. They were young, very young.   They sat, packed into the room like sardines, with every bit of free space – seats, floor, stage – all occupied.  I felt a bit of panic gurgle up from my coffee craving stomach.  Was I in the wrong event?  Had I misread the program?  I quickly started looking towards the exit doors. Maybe if I moved quickly I could get out before the speaker began and take my chances with the farming after all.  Alas, right at that point my panic was interrupted by the host inviting us to put our hands together for Dr Laurence O’Rourke.  I was trapped.

After a few minutes something very strange started to occur.  The natural hustle and bustle, to be expected when a couple of hundred school children are in a room, started to subside and before long the room fell silent.  That spell of silence remained cast for Susanne Thompson from Discovery, and later in the evening for Stephen Howell from Microsoft Ireland.  The young attendees, including myself (not so young), were entranced by the great speakers, interesting props and eye-catching visuals.  These energetic and enthusiastic speakers did what so many other speakers fail to do, they connected.  They were professionals who judged their audience and adjusted their content and delivery accordingly.  To do this with with adults is one thing, but to hold the attention of a room full of young students for over an hour, is nothing short of impressive.

After the event I set off on my long journey back home.  I left not only enlightened as to how important STEM and digital education is in this country, but truly in awe of my fellow conference goers.  They were respectful, confident young people, with a real interest in their futures.  They listened, they partook in live surveys and they asked intelligent questions.  What a great indication of the future of this small island and the exciting opportunities available to our graduates.  What a credit to their schools, teachers and to their parents.  And what a great event to be part of #DigitalWeekSkibb

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Five tips for advertising on Instagram

With over 300 million users worldwide, Instagram is one of the fastest growing and most relevant social media platforms today. So why do businesses still not use it as a means of marketing and connecting with their clients? 

Communications Hub
(thestudentblogger.co.uk)

The simple answer is they are unsure how best to use Instagram. Once businesses do start strategically using the picture based social media platform, the vast majority see an instant increase in interaction and referrals to their websites.

So here are some simple tips to help you on your #Instajourney.

  • Use images/videos that not only sell a product, but sell your brand – who you want to be and the vibe you want to create.
  • Post content at least once a week (of the Interbrand Top 100 Brands 86 are Instagram users and 73% of these post at least once a week).
  • Keep it short and sweet.  Under 140 characters is a good guide and has the added bonus of being Twitter compatible.
  • Hashtag clever.  Check out what hashtags competitors are using. Think about the audience you want to reach and the action you want them to take.  There are no limits to the number of hashtags you can use, but seven or less would be a good guide.
  • Connect.  Research has shown that posts which tag other users experience 56% more engagement.  While posts that tag a location earn 79% more engagement.

And finally,  don’t be afraid to experiment.  Instagram is the home of creative content with posts showing everything from holiday destinations to homemade baking.  Work out a formula that works for your brand and your followers and, if you’re not already including Instagram in your marketing strategy, get doing it now.  #Instagram #Instamarketing #Instafun

Contact Communications Hub for more information on how to effectively market your brand on social media.

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