The great debate: how to make social media work for your business

Building the bike as we ride it…

Last Friday we staged the inaugural duomedia Social Media Debate to discuss just how social a business should be. This engrossing, highly interactive event was attended by editors, journalists, print industry consultants and duomedia customers.

Between us we identified the best path for companies wanting to exploit the huge potential of social media.

If you couldn’t be there don’t worry – below are the main points covered at the event.

Embrace social media

There was universal agreement that social media are here to stay, and should be central to any engagement strategy. Most companies are already on board, but some are still dragging their feet.

If you’re unsure how to make best use of social media, that’s fine – any decent PR or marketing agency will show you how.

But resisting social media is futile. These channels have made publishers of us all, and brought about the democratization of information. Quite simply, social media channels are too big an opportunity for any company to miss.

Get a social media strategy

Gene Hunt emphasised the need for a clear social media strategy.

Social media accounts take no time to set up, so it can be really tempting to post stuff on as many channels as possible. But this won’t do you any favours in the long run.

Spend some time thinking about how a social media campaign can support your broader objectives and how you can measure its success, or you won’t see the results you want.

Create a social media policy

Gene also underlined the need to establish a social media policy that details the company’s procedures for posting content.

You wouldn’t fire off a press release without it first going through the proper internal channels. The same goes with social media.

Take social media seriously

Stan Lemmens, stressed that social media is a crucial component of a communications programme – and should be treated at a such.

This means entrusting your social media output to a senior communications professional. It’s way too important to hand to someone learning the ropes.

In the social media world, an ambiguous statement or casual use of slang may well be genuine mistakes, but they can bring a lot of flak to your door.

Choose your channels wisely

Catherine Carter and Debbie Ward from Print Business highlighted the importance of using the right platform for the right message at the right time.

For example, Facebook is like a shop-front you can fill with engaging images and videos; LinkedIn is a more professional platform where you can hook up with like-minded groups; while Twitter is your up-to-the-minute message board where you can update your community.

Each platform may be part of the same engagement strategy, but they require a different approach.

Be polite…

Gareth Ward, editor of Print Business, spoke wisely of the need to use common sense when using social media channels.

The perceived informality of social media has prompted some companies to really cut loose from the corporate jargon, which is certainly no bad thing. But there’s a line you shouldn’t cross.

So tread carefully – especially when using humour – and never risk coming across as rude. Social media channels are about engaging people, not enraging them.

…and relevant

Don’t post content just for the sake of it. Obviously, you need to post fairly regularly or your community won’t grow. But it’s equally important that you post content that’s worth sharing. Spare people the brain burps, otherwise you’ll quickly lose followers.

Respond fast

The great thing about social media is you can react to an issue as it breaks. And if you chip in quickly with well-considered comment, you can even help shape the story.

One attendee raised an important question about being fast out of the blocks: ‘How can you respond quickly when you have to go through layers of approval first?’.

Mike Horsten from Mimaki Europe, replied that it’s possible to react fast while staying within your company’s posting guidelines. He explained that at Mimaki, two people tweet so they can react to issues quickly while also ensuring content is checked for its appropriateness.

Know your facts

Ed Boogaard noted that while social media facilitate rapid responses to industry issues, it’s important to maintain integrity and post content you know is accurate.

Ed was recently questioned by a follower on Twitter why he hadn’t responded to an industry rumour. He said that he didn’t want to comment on a rumour that he believed could be untrue.

Don’t lose momentum

Catherine Carter commented on how many companies use social media to create a buzz before and during an event – but then make the mistake of ditching social media activity when the event’s over.

This is a missed opportunity. If people are following you before and during the event, they’ll likely be receptive to any follow-up activity (again, as long as it’s relevant).

See some pictures taken during the debate and Xmas event on our Facebook page:

BAPC Awards - Focus on Success

There can surely be no doubt in anyone’s mind who attended the 2012 BAPC conference that Sidney Bobb puts his heart and soul into the organization of these events.  His recipe with equal measures of entertainment, education and networking works every time.   This year’s attendance was down, but only slightly and the only criticism would have to be that there was not enough young blood in the mix – young printers in particular.  Sidney designs the programme to promote a mixture of confidence building and discussion on current trends and industry developments.  Its put together to offer something for everyone and it never fails to deliver.  It would be great to have more young voices in the audience.  

This year the message that we all came away with was ‘We can all learn how to market ourselves more effectively’.

The BAPC mission statement this year is ‘Focus on Success’ and the conference reflected that.  Sean Brickell, the award winning journalist and broadcaster, introduced and closed the conference.  Sean runs a successful business working globally helping businesses and organizations to sustain powerful levels of confidence and communications skills.  He has been nominated in 2012 as the small business influencer of the year.  His book ‘Don’t Shoot I’m Not Well’ is a practical, straight talking and inspiring and humorous look at how to boost confidence.   His key messages to the audience this year were  - ‘don’t be afraid of failure – learn from it and keep your vision for the future alive’.

The comprehensive list of 2012 speakers included Chas Maloney of Ricoh discussing how to satisfy the customer’s needs with clever marketing and still make a profit ; Barney Cox of InfoTrends showing the latest stats and trends on the uptake of social media channels in the print marketing mix ; Simon Casajuana of EFI demonstrating the market growth in large format applications and our very own Stan Lemmens describing the duomedia journey into a new land of communications media. Stan held an attentive audience with his take on the effective use of multiple communication channels in a media mix.  He finished his presentation with a great choice of You Tube video capturing a ‘Print Fanatic in New York’ – this generated a great deal of laughter and enthusiastic applause.

The very clever after-dinner illusionist following the Saturday evening BAPC Awards brought this happy event to a close.  Here’s hoping this annual conference will continue for many years to come to bring the industry together – hats off to Sidney Bobb!

by Annie Hotton

duomedia’s Annie Hotton (L) and Stan Lemmens (R)

Screendump on just a fraction of the #BAPC tweets taking over the timeline.

Marketing, PR and social media – are you striking the right communications mix?

Marketing, PR and social media – are you striking the right communications mix?

Seems like not that long ago when marketing was relatively straight forward. Not today. We live in a world of converged offline and online media. New platforms – particularly social media – have put an end to one-way communications. A simple press release just doesn’t cut it.

Today people expect more. They expect to have conversations with brands, and not just about products either. They want to know about the people behind the products, they want to share, participate and get engaged. And they want to swap notes with other people using the products.

Social media make all this possible. Put out some news and people will scramble for Twitter and give it to you straight. Or perhaps they’ll blog about it. Maybe they’ll even stick a video on YouTube and rant about it.

Does this mean the end of conventional marketing and PR? Nope. Social media may have strong armed their way onto the scene, but they’ll never have everything their own way.

When it comes to hosting events, exhibiting at trade shows, and building real relationships with the media – you know, where you actually speak to someone face to face – there’s no substitute for having a marketing / PR pro in your corner. Someone who knows all the key journalists in your market and can make things happen.

The trick is striking the right balance between marketing, PR and social media. And it’s not easy to get the mix right. Not in today’s fast-moving media landscape. 

In fact, we realized if we’re working hard to keep up with all the new developments, our clients must be finding things pretty hard going too. So, we’ve decided to run a two-day PR Summercamp to bring our clients up to speed. Show them how, with a sound communications strategy, things needn’t feel like an uphill struggle.

If you’re feeling a bit swamped by it all, take two minutes to check out what we’ve got planned for the PR Summercamp. It could be just the ticket for tackling all your communication problems. 

Stan Lemmens will be one of the presenters at the PR Summercamp.

predrupa - time to de-care and de-stress

At the recent #duopredrupaBE press conference held in Brussels, there was one sentence that sums up pretty much all of the drupa trends currently going on. Ignace Cosaert, CEO of Athena Graphics, specialised in pre-press for packaging, said the keyword in everything they do is “de-care”. An interesting thought as drupa is only a fortnight away.

The #duopredrupabe was held on April 5th, Easter break in the duomedia premises at The Egg, a communication hub in Brussels. A raft of interesting speakers gave their take on the drupa at hand. Monika Kissing, head of the press department at messe
Düsseldorf, informed us drupa was sold out. Sold out. Entirely! The cross-media campaign definitely proved its worth. Initial feedback from visitors shows they are coming to see a lot of diversified solutions. A trend confirmed by Eddy Hagen, Director at the VIGC and trendwatcher. Belgium based, but with a steady eye on the international trends, he confirmed printers are looking at not one solution at a time, but they’re exploring options on how they can take more work and cares away from their customers. They’re researching automation, shorter run terms and web-to-print applications for easier access, control and output. This was reflected in the Belgian industry figures, released by Belgium based Febelgra. Downward leaning figures indicated that Belgian printers are experiencing difficulties, but the survivors are the innovators who are investing in solutions that turn printers in interactive and cooperative partners.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so we asked Athena Graphics (a packaging pre-press specialist) and Drukkerij De Bie (commercial printing specialist) to provides us with a sneak peek on how they grow. De Bie invests a lot in sustainable management and solutions (they even have a bee-kingdom at their premises!) and Athena Graphics focuses on de-caring. They’ve developed an internal workflow approval tool, to manage and integrate all the processes from within the company. They’ve also set up the Athena Academy to invest in training people. Quality and de-caring are on top of their priority list.

De-caring or taking stress and workload away from customers, it seems like today’s mantra. Especially as we head up to drupa. A fortnight to go and still a lot of things to be done with stress levels hitting the red zone hours before opening day. So here an appeal to all of you - let’s de-care one another every once in a while.

Hey you there, good job on all the drupa preparations, how can we help?

Don’t forget: #drupa #drupacube #drupadip @drupa2012 @duomediapr