Put your customers first with this simple writing strategy

How often have you seen social media posts, articles, web pages or bid/ tender responses which focus on the experience or gravitas of the writer?

Would you prefer to read…?

‘WidgetMakers Ltd has been in business since 1997 and over this period has delivered over 200 successful projects. We propose the following solution for SmartTech.’

OR

SmartTech’s 2018 objective is to expand into the Hospitality Market in EMEA. This proposal details how WidgetMakers Ltd will help you achieve that.’

The difference between the two statements is a writing technique called ‘Frontloading’, also known as the ‘Inverted Pyramid Style’, where the most important information is read first.  The Inverted Pyramid has its roots in traditional journalism, dating back to the time of the telegraph. New technology meant that journalists had to change their writing style to get their point across succinctly (a bit like Twitter in 2017!)
It’s not so much that no-one cares about you and your business, but more that their care and attention only exists in the context of what you can do for them. Nowadays, we spend more time on technology than we do asleep! (BBC) This has led to traditional reading behaviour changing with more time spent browsing and scanning. Frontloading makes it easier for your reader to work out what’s in it for them and if they should carry on reading.

Frontloading works because

  • Your point is clearer
  • Your priority is customer first (or if it isn’t, it should be!)
  • Customer experience improves

The great thing about frontloading is that it is easy- all the writer needs to do is change the focus of your sentence so that the key details are at the front. Statements before and after frontloading are below:

  • Enter our competition and win a Mini
  • Win a Mini by entering our competition
  • We can help you recruit the right employees
  • Recruit the right HR Business Partner
  • WidgetMaker’s new software will help you manage your utilisation rates
  • Improve your utilisation rates with WidgetMaker’s new software.

When writing for the web and putting your keywords upfront and central both the reader and SEO benefit (Neil Patel). Readers make a decision on whether to continue reading after as little as two words!

I find Frontloading invaluable in crafting social media post updates when there is a small amount of space to make an impact. Twitter has a maximum of 140 characters, and research has shown that the ideal social posts for other platforms are shorter than you might think. On Facebook, posts with 40 characters or less receive 86% more engagement compared to longer posts and the optimal length of a LinkedIn post is only 25 words. (Visit Buffer’s excellent blog if you’re interested in the research behind this and more) When you only have a few characters you need to make them count!

Video Marketing is the future (so my 4 year old says!)

I’ve been thinking a lot about video recently. As a Social Media Manager, you can’t ignore the research that video is the future of content marketing with online videos forecast to be for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020. 73% of marketers plan on increasing their use of videos and one of my personal objectives is to make social videos this year to help small businesses reach their audiences. Coming from a corporate background, the videos I ‘used’ to watch were all incredibly slick and professionally produced (with lots of transition shots of people staring up at skyscrapers dressed in suits!) The explosion of social video means that content like that now is in the minority- all you need to make a video is an iPhone, mic and a tripod and a laptop for editing. I’m personally a massive fan of the less polished, more authentic videos and I’m not the only one- 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers in the future.

As a Mum to a 4-year-old I’m also thinking about video in a different way. Like many of her peers, my daughter loves You Tube videos of toys being opened, and she’s not alone either. In 2014, the highest earner on You Tube made $5m by opening Disney toys. I’m at the heady stage where she can’t write yet so accepts totally that our IPad doesn’t have You Tube as I deleted the icon, so it’s a special treat for Granny’s house. Being open, I really didn’t like the videos- I don’t get it, but as we were both thinking about video I tried to put my own prejudices aside and asked her lots of open questions while we watched together.

She’s sharing a moment. Video is full of life- the girls she chooses to watch on the Toys AndMe channel are full of personality, bright and engaging and the video is well edited with a good narrative. Interestingly, considering the prevalence of toy channels, which make up 20% of the top 100 channels on You Tube, she has chosen a channel filmed less than 100 miles from our house, with familiar accents. She’s watching the older girls she might play with in the playground and feels like she’s engaging with them.

She learns by looking and listening. Admittedly, she can’t read yet but most the population generally learn this way with approximately 10% being auditory learners, learning best through reading. However, only 3% of content on Facebook now is video. Now that technology has progressed to be able to share content in a way other than written content and static images, we need to match our content to the way our audience will best consume it.

She can get information and entertainment at the touch of a button. Forrester researcher Dr. James McQuivey estimates that one minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words. Admittedly this is limited now to knowing what a blind bag is and that Monsters Inc is a thing, but the possibilities from video marketing are endless and exciting.

Another key takeaway was that I really didn’t ‘get it’- I couldn’t understand why she wanted to spend time watching these videos when there were educational apps she could be playing with on her iPad! On reflection, of course I didn’t ‘get it’- I am not their target audience, which is well defined and catered for. So, Tiana and her friends from Toys AndMe will be welcome guests in (Granny’s) house for the near future and I’ll be working on my own video and shooting skills!

Getting Started on Social Media– why you need a Marketing Plan

So, you’re ready to get started on Social Media marketing? You’ve been using Facebook for years and know it’s the place to go to sell. But, stop for a minute… just because Facebook make it really easy to set up a Business Page, does that mean that it’s the right thing for you to do? The answer is maybe…

Using social media for business is very different from running your personal account (the ones who Facebook really likes and want to keep engaged) Facebook has been around since 2004 and has been growing consistently by putting the user’s experience first- in Autumn 2017 there were 2.07bn monthly active users. The great thing about social media is that it will probably be familiar to you already, but you do need to approach it as you would any other kind of business activity and make sure you have a plan in place for success.

Over 50 million businesses (and growing) have a Facebook page and they all want to do the same as you- sell their products and services. Spending your time crafting a beautiful social media post is no guarantee that anyone who likes your Facebook page will even see it- ‘organic’ reach, posts offered in the newsfeed without any advertising attached, has been recently estimated at just 2%. However, a very small amount of targeted advertising (think £20 rather than £200) will give you access to a large number of potential customers.

Loxley marketing

Before your start investing in your business social media (whether through advertising or you or your team’s valuable time) stop and answer the following based on your business objectives:

  • Who do I want to reach? What types of people are they and where do they hang out digitally? If you’re trying to reach 13- 15 year olds Facebook is unlikely to be your answer.
  • What do I want to achieve? Social media is great for building brand awareness, website traffic and email sign ups.
  • What resources do I have to allocate? Consider your time running the account and creating content and advertising budgets.
  • Who are my competitors for this market and what are they doing on social?
  • How will I know if I’ve been successful? Are you looking for an increase in follower numbers or to sell 500 jumpers by Thursday?
  • How am I going to achieve it? This is where it all comes together- the right type of content on platform, the right message and the right time.

And, as importantly, Social Media is a fantastic part of your digital marketing strategy, but to be honest (as someone who makes a living from specialising in social media) it is only a part of the picture. It could be that for your specific aims and objectives, setting up Social Media accounts won’t be the best place for you to put your energy and budget now and you would be better concentrating on say, email marketing.

Setting up a marketing plan itself will not be complex as you know your business better than anyone else. However, if time means that you need some help, we love to talk social.