Learning Business Studies on your smartphone

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Last year, Sarvesh Nundalallee, a Business Studies teacher at Curepipe College, in collaboration with Knowledge Seven launched an Android application called Business Studies Volume 1. The aim of the app was to provide Business Studies students (at A-level e.g. Higher School Certificate and first year university) a way of preparing for their exams while on the move.

20141106-business-studies-appFollowing the huge success of Business Studies Volume 1, Sarvesh Nundalallee and Knowledge Seven are glad to announce the launching of the full Business Studies Q&A application. While the first version covered the Business Environment section of the program, this new version covers all six chapters of the program namely Business and its environment, People in the organisation, Marketing, Operations and project management, Finance and accounting and Strategic management.

Study whenever you feel like doing so

Time is a very precious resource for students. This application allows you to make the most of it by giving you the flexibility to study anytime, anywhere without having to carry a heavy Business Studies book.

Since the app works without an Internet connection, you just have to take out your smartphone or tablet and start browsing through a huge repertoire of questions and answers from exam papers of the past ten years. It allows you to make good use of your free time.

Know exactly what examiners expect from you

Many students are not aware of examiners’ expectations regarding the structure of answers to essay-type questions. Although marking schemes are available to students, many find it difficult to answer appropriately. The Business Studies Q&A app provides a list of model answers. This allows students to better understand how to answer correctly for maximum marks.

20141106-business-studies-creatorsAvinash Meetoo, Founder and CEO of Knowledge Seven, believes that this application will be very beneficial to Business Studies students and that the future of learning resides in leveraging the use of technology to enhance the learning experience. He therefore invites other teachers who would like embark on a similar adventure to contact him on 5493-9394 or send him an email at avinash@knowledge7.com.

Downloading the app for free

The app can be downloaded from Google Play Store. Questions and answers for the first chapter are free while questions and answers for the other chapters can be activated through in-app purchases. Get one chapter for $1.49 or all chapters for only $4.99.

Have fun studying with Business Studies Q&A. Do not hesitate to share with your friends and family.

Community management and moderation

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

our little secret 2

As we have seen earlier, the major innovation brought by Web 2.0 is that consumers now play a major role in mediating and even shaping the organisation’s communication. A business needs to turn this to its advantage by creating and sustaining a community of fans who can positively relay its brand image.

First listen

It starts first of all by knowing who your fans are, listening attentively to them to understand their concerns, expectations, and desires. A few years ago, companies like Dell and Kodak created a new marketing role: the chief listener.

Though few companies have adopted the job title, many have integrated the notion that having real and direct data about and from their customers is a key to successful online marketing. This includes monitoring customer feedback on all platforms and social networks.

Then, respond

Once you have the feedback, you must do your best to respond. This does not mean that you need to promise things that you will not be able to deliver. Instead, you need to show how hard you are trying. It may include giving a sneak peek at your business from the inside for instance.

In times of crisis, it also includes being able to respond as quickly as possible in as honest a manner as possible in your own words and voice. This means that you establish a direct line of communication with your customers rather than rely on mass media or a PR agency. You reduce the risk of delay as well as misunderstanding and distortion of your message.

Don’t forget to do the following:

  • help people by providing useful unsolicited advice
  • respond directly to questions
  • thank those who express appreciation
  • respond calmly and positively to criticism

Identify your best fans

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You can motivate fans by congratulating and making regular offers to those who participate actively in your community. Ideally, after some time, fans will become proactive and will act as leaders and ambassadors of the brand by themselves. Successful brands are those who are able to create such a community of fans and sustain it over time.

Good moderation = good ambiance

The role of the community manager is still key as he/she is the one who ensures consistency and sets the tone and ambiance within that community (e.g. cool/relax, humouristic, technical, philosophical, etc.). The social media presence should be constantly monitored and moderation is crucial. A good moderator will not necessarily censor users’ comments (except for obvious breach of the country’s laws). Instead, he/she should be able to take heated comments calmly and provide rational and clear answers.

Work to do

Review your company’s social media presence with particular attention to your Facebook page. How could you improve your online communication and create positive communities of fans?

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This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

User engagement techniques

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

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In this age of information overload, it is important to use efficient engagement techniques to prevent users from forgetting you. Here is a list of possibilities.

Games

People love games!

Of course, people only play good games and they tend to do this for many reasons: pleasure, competition, rewards (e.g. badges). Some people are even ready to pay in order to play.

Imagine creating your own game on Facebook and making it become successful. This can be very beneficial for branding, obtaining leads and even promoting your products through custom ads.

In addition to games, there is a tendency towards serious apps adopting gamification techniques. This is true for local apps (say, showing things happening nearby), apps for healthcare and for education, among others.

Do not hesitate to contact us for creating your own Facebook apps.

Contests

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Contests are also a good way to drive user engagement. Contests which work well are those which allow participants to upload their own user-generated content e.g. images, videos, etc.

It is also possible to create a contest where users are asked to complete a challenge and reward those who win with interesting prizes. In the picture above, you can see such a contest that we created for QBL. The idea was to show different pictures to the Facebook user and ask him/her to count the number of Mountain Dew bottles in each of them. Winners were rewarded with prizes.

Other ways to drive user engagement

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Money is a scarce resource. Allowing people to save money is a good way to drive user engagement online. There are various mechanisms for doing so. For example, an organisation with a Facebook page can reward regular fans with coupons or early notice of upcoming promotions. It is also possible to ask fans to tell all their friends that they are visiting a certain shop and reward them with gifts, discounts, etc.

Another way to increase user engagement is to create a question of the week and/or create polls. People like to respond to challenges. Human beings like to brag… when they win.

Work to do

Conceptualise a game which is relevant to your target audience and which will drive user engagement on your Facebook page.

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

Copywriting and visual design

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

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Copywriting is the art of writing for a purpose. As such, you first need to know who is your target (audience profiles) and what outcome you hope to achieve with them (inform, influence, persuade, sell). During a previous session, you outlined a list of personae which you need to target for your product.

This will allow you to determine what type of content you need to produce for them as well as the format, language and level of technical detail which will be most appropriate for each target. You should also think about the keywords which need to appear in your copy to attract their attention.

Focus on benefits, not features

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Focus on the benefits rather than on the features of your product. What will your audience gain from using it? Will it make their life easier or better? Will they save time or money so that they can do other things? Will they become better persons? How can your product fulfill your customers’ needs? Of course, you need to be careful not to overpromise!

Once you have determined the type of content, pay attention to the structure of your copy. The techniques which we usually learn about in school or at university for writing academic papers do not apply. For instance, for academic writing, we are taught that we need to structure our copy in the following way:

  • Introduction to general context
  • Idea or argument #1
  • Idea or argument #2
  • Idea or argument #3
  • Conclusion

But, this can be very boring and off-putting. And in business, you cannot afford this. You want to write for impact and thus need to grab the attention of your readers right from the start. Especially in this age of abundance of information and scarcity of time. People do not want to waste time going through your copy to find the key points.

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Using the inverted pyramid

You need to adopt the method of the inverted pyramid for structuring your copy. This is used extensively in journalism. It consists of putting the most important information at the top and providing multiple visual entry points to facilitate skim reading. You should use headings and sub-headings, a lead paragraph and illustrations.

The length of sentences should vary with a preference for shorter ones. Headings and body copy must be concise and clearly expressed in plain and objective language. In his essay Politics and the English Language, George Orwell advised that we use shorter words, cut out unnecessary ones and use the active voice when writing.

The power of images

Visual elements are powerful tools to grab attention, illustrate your message and even replace words. These can be in the form of pictures (drawings and photos), charts or videos. You can use stock images if you do not have your own photos but you should ensure that the content is relevant to your target audience (for example in terms of people and environments featured) and does not infringe copyright.

It is very important to pay attention to the layout and use of space. Many people tend to want to use as many colours as possible but this can be very tiring for the eyes. There should be harmony in the use of palettes as well as in the use of typography.

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The urge is also to cram in as much information as possible. As a result, visitors do not know where to look and become confused. White space helps as it provides visual breathing room for the eye by providing breaks from text or graphics. It also helps make important information really stand out. An example of a page which uses white space can be seen on the Mauritius Vibrations website, a mobile app to stop you feeling bored in Mauritius.

Finally, if you want to create leads for your sales, you need to include a call to action (CTA) to provoke an immediate reaction. Use active verbs such as sign up, subscribe, call, buy, donate, etc. Sometimes you have to offer a little extra (discount, entry in a competition, a free gift) in order to create a sense of urgency.

Work to do

Write a post which targets one persona profiled for your product. Ensure it provides valuable content from the point of view of this audience. Illustrate the post with an appropriate image.

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

Scheduling and advertising for maximum visibility

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

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When starting with Digital Marketing and Social Media, it is tempting to just create content and post them as soon as possible without any planning. Sure, this is better than doing nothing but, sometimes, engagement can be low. One reason, of course, might be the quality of the content. But another reason might be that people didn’t see the post because, well, they weren’t using their smartphone or computer when the post was published.

Scheduling posts at appropriate times is important in order to have maximum impact. Interestingly, people visit different social networks at different times. In fact, a lot of studies have been carried out on this subject and they are sometimes contradictory.

Nothing beats testing and relying on your own observations to decide when to post.

But here are some guidelines for the most popular social networks:

  • Generally people do not access Facebook at work. Most of them do so at home and 6pm-8pm might be an effective time to engage with them. Some studies show that people tend to be more present on Facebook at the end of the week. Friday at 3pm (just before they leave work) might be a good time to engage with them. During the week-end, Facebook is accessed more regularly.
  • LinkedIn, being a social network for professionals, tends to be used at work. The most effective engagement period is around noon when people are having lunch and have some time to browse.
  • Twitter is more often accessed through mobile devices — only a few of us use the Twitter website. Effective engagement times are around noon and from 6pm to 8pm.

Using interesting photos in a post generate higher engagement. More and more people are using mobile devices so keeping things short and simple is not a bad idea.

For those who intend to post regularly, a tool such as Buffer might be useful. In essence, Buffer allows you to queue your content which is then shared on social media at specific times as decided by yourself. Doing the same thing manually is also possible but can be error-prone.

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Online advertising

Even though there are studies which show that people tend to ignore ads when they browse, ads can still be effective if designed properly and are not overly pushy (help before selling!).

Online advertising is currently synonymous with Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. Other advertising networks exist but are used less frequently.

Google advertisements can appear at two different places: on search results pages and on partnering websites (which Google call its partner network — this includes YouTube). Google AdWords is a complex web application which enables a digital marketer to create campaigns (with set budgets), ad groups (which share the same set of keywords) and both text and graphical ads at various dimensions. Reporting facilities are extensive and, with some experience, it is possible to have ads which are effective yet do not cost a lot. It is possible to use Google Web Designer to create animated ads.

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Facebook ads appear in Facebook and can be used to promote a page, a specific post on a page or a website. Facebook ads appear to specific demographics (e.g. based on sex, age, interests, existing relationship with your organisation, etc.) In Mauritius, as people tend to spend a lot of time on Facebook, having ads there can be very beneficial if proper targeting is done. It is better to restrict views thanks to better targeting than having a lot of views with no engagement.

Recently, Facebook has stopped flooding people with posts from their friends or from pages they like. Posting in a Facebook page will only generate a few views. The only effective way to make more people aware of the post is to promote it.

Work to do

Create an account in Buffer (if you do not already have one) and explore it. Pay special attention to the scheduling part. Comment on its usefulness for your organisation.

Explore Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. Create campaigns, ad groups, ads. Decide on keywords and demographics. What kind of budget should be allocated to online advertisement?

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

Mobile marketing: the new game changer

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The invention of the Internet was a game changer in business and marketing. At first, all businesses started by simply creating their websites but as the Internet matured, businesses started seeing other opportunities for using it as a highly effective marketing channel. While most businesses are now aware of its potential, although many of them haven’t really started embracing it, very few are aware of an even more effective emerging marketing channel – mobile technologies.

Why is mobile marketing so great?

Digital marketing research firm InsightExpress found that mobile ad campaign norms were four-and-a-half to five times more effective than online norms. One can easily understand why. The adoption rate of smartphones and tablets is truly amazing. eMarketer expects 4.55 billion people worldwide to use a mobile phone in 2014.

Now let me ask you a question. What are the three things you take with you before leaving your house?

Your keys, your wallet and your smartphone!

People check their smart phones and tablets several times a day whether they are at work, while travelling or at home. Moreover, mobile devices provide capabilities such as geolocation. Thus, advertising through a mobile channel allows you to target customers not only at the time you want but also based on their location.

Let’s take an example:

Android Application Development course at Knowledge Seven

This course has been designed for people who need to acquire the skills to develop powerful Android applications. It covers key topics such as using databases, asynchronous networking and the use of geolocation and Google Maps. You will also learn about the Android best design patterns.

Learn more

Let’s say you sell shoes and you have several retail stores around the country. You decide to use newspapers to advertise your shops. People will most probably read the newspapers at home or at work. They might be attracted by your awesome ad design and find your product really interesting. However, very often they will forget about it. Imagine now that you could send a notification to a person, through a mobile application, only when that person is within 25 metres of any one of your shops telling them about a special offer available on presentation of a coupon (a mobile coupon which is available through the application itself!). The chances of that person getting into your shop will increase greatly. Mobile marketing takes marketing to a whole new level.

In order to give you some inspiration on how to leverage the power of mobile marketing, below are three real-world examples of businesses who have created great mobile marketing campaigns.

Heineken Star Player Game

The Dutch brewing company Heineken, has created a mobile application called Star Player. Star Player is a game which allows players to predict what will happen at key moments in UEFA Champions League football matches. The game works in real-time and invites players to forecast the outcome of corners, free kicks, penalties, when goals will take place etc. and are awarded points accordingly. This game results in people being exposed to the Heineken brand during the whole match and well, we all know that it feels really good to drink beer while watching a football match…

Quidco

Cashback and voucher website Quidco.com has launched a mobile application that rewards users with cash and exclusive offers for checking in to certain stores and restaurants.

Cashback is paid when people click through and make a purchase at any of the retailers listed on their website. The Quidco app provides users with all the money-saving offers available nearby, including vouchers and in-store cashback deals. It also presents cash incentives and bigger offers for users who check in to certain restaurants and stores.

“While other apps inform the users of offers in their local area, the incentivised check-ins on the Quidco app will encourage consumers inside stores, thereby giving retailers more of an opportunity to influence customers and make a sale,” says Quidco’s Hannah Green.

Edendale

Edendale is a Mauritian company which specializes in the distribution of dairy products, juice, cereals etc. They contacted us last year to develop a mobile application – an Anchor Nutritional Game. The game shows you examples of balanced diets and allows you to create your own from a list of food items provided. It then explains how using Anchor products can help you achieve a balanced diet. When customers visit a supermarket, they can play the game on a tablet. This is specially fun for kids and will you be able to say no when your 8 years old daughter will ask you to buy that bottle of milk?

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Mobile marketing offers an endless number of possibilities. The only limit is your imagination and your ability to develop mobile applications.

Here’s a piece of advice: mobile is the future and is here to stay. Successful companies will be those who will adopt both online and mobile marketing.

It is possible to outsource the development of the mobile application (to Knowledge Seven say). However, if you plan to create several mobile apps, having your own development team might be less costly. In this case too, Knowledge Seven can help.

Do not hesitate to contact us for FREE advice.

Other social networks for marketing

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

Although Facebook is currently number one in terms of reach and use, other social networks are also worth exploring as people engage on new platforms according to their interests and profiles.

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LinkedIn targets mostly people from the professional world and is thus very interesting for those who are in the B2B market and also for spotting new talents. Like on Facebook, one can create a personal profile, a company page or a group. The LinkedIn groups can be very interesting if you know how to choose which ones to participate in and invest time to boost your group contribution level. These can help you significantly increase your credibility within a professional circle.

20140812-twitterTwitter is a very good example of a network of interest as relationships do not need to be reciprocal. The inclusion of photos or videos in tweets tends to attract more attention. Tweets cannot exceed 140 characters in length and thus have to be to the point. Link shorteners such as Bitly are useful to keep your tweets short and also to provide statistics on clicks.

20140812-youtubeYouTube, the most popular video sharing website which is owned by Google, is also a powerful social network. It attracts all kinds of audiences: people wanting to entertain themselves, people who want to learn new things and people who have created videos themselves and are looking for an audience.

20140812-pinterestPinterest is described as a visual discovery tool. Users create and share collections of pictures related to their projects or products they like on boards called “Pins”. Most of the users of this social network are women who like to pin pictures of fashion and home-related products, recipes they love as well as trips and events.

20140812-instagramInstagram is used to share, like and comment on photos and videos. It enables its users to apply digital filters to their pictures and share them on a variety of social networking services. The service, which was acquired by Facebook in 2012, is increasingly being used by young people.

Other interesting social networks include Google+ (Google’s social network in which people organise their connections within circles), Snapchat (photo and video messaging application which allows users to set a time limit for how long recipients can view their snaps) and Tumblr (a microblogging service used by a lot of young people).

Work to do

Use the ‘Find a group’ facility in LinkedIn to identify an interesting group to participate in. Explore the Twitter user interface and the Tweetdeck service to determine how Twitter can be useful for your business.

If you had to create videos on YouTube, say which type? How would you proceed to do that? What kind of equipment would you need? Another possibility is to only share existing videos. Discuss on the effectiveness of both techniques.

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

Using Facebook for marketing

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

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Facebook was created by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes in 2004. Since then, it has become the #1 social network on the planet with more than 1.28 billion monthly active users in March 2014.

Facebook has created quite a lot of controversies since its inception mainly due to privacy issues and concerning the ownership of content created by its users. Another issue is that it is dangerous to rely only on the availability of free access to Facebook to build a business and/or a marketing strategy. For example, Facebook was blocked for one day in Mauritius and this can happen again.

Differences between profiles, pages and groups

Facebook allows users to create profiles, pages and groups (as well as apps, lists, events, etc.)

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Facebook mandates that a profile should belong to a real person. A page is for a real entity (an organisation, a business, an association, etc.) and should be created by an official representative. Groups, on the other hand, are informal networks of people who are gathered around a common theme.

One important thing is to pay attention to privacy settings. For profiles, go to Settings, then Privacy and make sure you understand the “Who can see my stuff?” part. In particular, “Who can see your future posts?” can be either:

  • Public
  • Friends
  • Custom: shared to specific lists

For pages, check the following:

General:

  • Posting ability
  • Post visibility
  • Tagging ability

Page Roles:

  • Admin
  • Non-admin users

It is never a good idea to completely outsource your Facebook marketing. To have a real conversation with a potential (or existing) customer, one requires an insider’s knowledge of your business. This ensures that responses are made quickly and are accurate.

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Once you have created a page on Facebook and started creating interesting content, you need to grow your audience. This can be done in different ways:

  • Invite your friends
  • Promote page (using ads)
  • Promote posts published on the page (using ads)

Facebook also allows for ads which link to your website.

The importance of graphics

A picture is worth a thousand words as you already know. A post on a page can become more effective with an interesting image.

Using free graphical tools such as Gimp or by using commercial software such as Photoshop, a digital marketer can comfortably:

  • Adjust the colorimetry of a picture
  • Crop, resize and sharpen images

Facebook requires cover images to be 851 x 315 pixels while profile pictures are 180 x 180 pixels automatically cropped (and not resized) to 160 x 160 pixels. Stock images can be purchased or downloaded for free from websites such as Flickr. Google Image Search is also useful.

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Linking to your website

Remember that your own website is also a powerful marketing tool and that you need to channel traffic towards this asset, in order to increase conversion. Thus, if you are using ads on Facebook with links to your website, you need to create effective landing pages that:

  • have an attractive design to grab attention
  • are relevant to the customers being targeted
  • motivate potential customers with an effective call to action

You can motivate people by giving out a lot of useful content and free advice, for example, in the form of podcasts, videos, white papers, case studies, etc. You will not be getting high return on investment immediately from direct conversion but as Seth Godin noted: “You can use social media to turn strangers into friends, friends into customers, and customers into salespeople.”

Work to do

In the previous topic, you identified specific personae corresponding to specific target audiences. For each Facebook persona, create a post you believe will have maximum impact. Pay special attention to the title, the body text as well as the images used. If driving traffic to your website, assume you already have a relevant landing page.

Identify an existing group on Facebook where there are people who might be interested in your product. Read existing posts to understand what they really need and whether you are in a position to help them. What kind of posts would be more effective in this group for helping you increase your visibility and credibility?

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

Setting up a Social Media Strategy

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

Setting up a Social Media Strategy

There are two different types of social networks: networks of friends and networks of interest.

Facebook is typically a network of friends where people generally create a profile and invite people they know personally to become their friend. Consequently, Facebook is a very good means to keep in touch with people you already know but it is quite lousy for doing business with new customers. Realising this, Facebook introduced pages which are quite similar to profiles in look but which work differently. A page is a means to build a network of interest within Facebook. A network of interest is, of course, a group of people having a certain interest in common but who are not really friends i.e. typically people interested in a product or a service.

Twitter, unlike Facebook, has been designed from the ground up to be a network of interest. Following someone on Twitter does not need to be reciprocal and, as such, one can follow anyone. For example, it is quite simple to follow very well-known CEOs on Twitter but it would be quite impossible to become their friend on Facebook.

The special case of Facebook

Despite its shortcomings, mostly privacy-related, Facebook is the #1 social network on the planet. This is true also in Mauritius where about 400,000 of us have a profile and routinely use Facebook to communicate but also to discover new products and services.

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Facebook Audience Insights is a powerful tool which gives detailed information about the various demographics on Facebook. From Insights, we understand that Facebook has:

  • 400K – 450K monthly active people in Mauritius
  • that half of them use both desktop computers and mobile devices
  • that they only moderately interact (through comments, likes and clicks on ads)
  • etc.

Beyond Facebook

There are some signs that certain demographics, especially young people, are adopting other social networks (now that their parents are on Facebook!). The rise of interest-based social networks such as YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat is visible, even in Mauritius.

Consequently, the exact social network to use in order to reach out for a certain demographics will vary. Facebook is still a very important social network, especially in Mauritius, but if an organisation wants to reach women then, maybe, Pinterest might be a good alternative. An audience of marketing executives might be easier to reach through LinkedIn.

Work to do

Choose a specific product you would like to promote, decide upon 3-4 specific demographics you would like to reach, profile these audiences as thoroughly as possible and, consequently, determine which social network is the most appropriate.

When profiling, answer the following questions for each persona:

  • Brief description
  • Information he/she needs
  • His/her interests
  • His/her skills
  • His/her assumptions
This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

The Internet and Digital Marketing

This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training

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The Internet was invented in 1968 and, in the very beginning, was used mainly for email. In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web as a means to disseminate information to a large number of people. As a matter of fact, he invented HTML, the Web Browser as well as the Web Server.

For many years, the Web was mostly one-way traffic until the introduction of Web 2.0 in 2005. Since then, we have seen the emergence of blogging, forums, wikis and, most importantly, social networks. Major social networks include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. Recently, new social networks have gained in importance, among them Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat.

The move towards Digital Marketing

More and more people are spending a substantial amount of their time online, mainly on social networks. As such, in order to reach out to them for promoting products and services, it is essential for organisations to have a well-defined strategy to use these new digital tools.

In the beginning, organisations resorted mainly to what they knew well: mass advertising, mass emailing and one-way communication. This is what is known as Outbound Marketing and, even though, it can work, it is now generally accepted that there are better ways to reach out to potential customers.

Inbound Marketing is about maximising engagement and establishing authoritativeness. This is done by listening and creating compelling content which addresses the needs of people and sharing these content where people really spend their time. Statistics show that Inbound Marketing is much more effective than Outbound Marketing techniques.

Inbound Marketing is an interactive two-way conversation. Examples are regular posts on a website, podcasts, videos, white papers, case studies, etc. all shared through social media. The best way to convince a customer is to help him/her first.

Work to do

Check the following online resources and comment on them:

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This topic is part of our Effective Digital Marketing training