What’s Holding Back Digital Transformation?


The below article on Digital Transformation was originally written by Emily Tatham, Content Executive for Digital Gurus.


Digital Transformation will be a $2 trillion market globally by 2020 according to the IDC.

As technology becomes an increasing part of our everyday lives, it also becomes a vital part of business strategy, utilising emerging tools to become more efficient, cost effective, or in some cases, disrupt the entire market.

But, businesses are being bafflingly slow at jumping on the digital transformation bandwagon.

A recent survey carried out by Microsoft and Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, found that less than half of their 783 respondents said their their organisation has developed and communicated a formal business strategy for the digital future.

So what’s the hold up? We’ve already got the tech.

Well, clearly, the problem is not the lack of suitable technology. In the past couple of years we have seen the commercial rise of technologies such as cloud platforms, artificial intelligence and virtual reality – once nothing more than mere science fiction. These new technologies have several business applications such as the use of AI chatbots in customer service. These will likely cut costs and increase customer satisfaction, but they are not being implemented nearly as much as they could be.

So, if the technology is already in place then what is delaying digital transformation?

The ‘people’ problem

Well according to Henning von Kielpinski, business development director at ConSol, “digital transformation is more than technology, it’s 50% technology and 50% people.” The ‘people’ element of digital transformation can cover a variety of issues.

Firstly, implementing a digital transformation strategy has to be signed off by the CIO or CEO. Bruce Rogers, the chief insight officer at Forbes wrote:

“Leadership through digital transformation has to come from the very top.

Executives can’t just say it. They must live it.”

Getting the top people in business to commit to a digital transformation is key to its success.

The skills shortage

Furthermore, even if your leadership is on board, you may not have the in-house capabilities to carry out digital transformation. The skills gap is making it harder to keep up with expanding technologies, there are simply not enough people to make digital transformation an option for every business. It also drives up the cost, especially if you are utilising niche technologies, as those with rare skill sets can demand higher salaries. The digital transformation challenge report found that finding professionals in specialised areas such as the internet of things was the most challenging for those undergoing digital transformation.

It’s clear that digital transformation is on the rise, but there is still work to be done for companies struggling to keep up. The IT skills gap is hindering progress in many sectors where transformation is desperately needed – especially when considering moves to more niche technologies like the IoT.


Digital Gurus is an award-winning digital recruitment agency in London, Manchester, Sydney & Dubai. The team will be at this year’s Prolific North Live on February 28th & March 1st.

What’s the Craziest Thing You’ve Had to Do For Your Job?


This article was written by Emma Trimble, Group Director for Brazen, a multi-award winning PR & Content Marketing agency with offices in Manchester and Dubai.


We like to say we’re Brazen by name and Brazen by nature, so anyone who works here is no stranger to some strange requests all in the name of getting amazing results for our clients.

While we don’t get asked to pick up the boss’s dry cleaning, we have been asked to make fake poo to smear on actors’ rear ends for a social experiment to see if people are more likely to stop a girl or a boy with a messy derriere.

Nutella and chocolate ice cream is the perfect recipe for fake poo, just in case you ever need to know.

In the case of commissioning the world’s largest beach ball (as tall as the White House) and inflating it on Blackpool Beach, we had to make sure the weather behaved itself and it wasn’t too windy or rainy on the day.

Singletons in the office handed over their Tinder profiles and allowed the Optical Express team to test whether people were more likely to swipe right for those with or without glasses.

Do you feel sorry for the account exec who got the call requesting we send a child’s toy Blox astronaut into space? Not a problem for the tenacious terriers here, off it launched!

We’ve had to get used to not having much sleep – when you have a 24 hour Twister tournament taking place through the night to break a Guinness World Record there’s no chance of catching a few winks while the players are still going strong.

Most London stunts need to be set up over night so whether that’s a giant Rekorderlig bottle to celebrate midsummer, an enormous cake recreating a luscious Irish meadow for Kerrygold butter or a pizzeria made from ice for Dr. Oetker Ristorante pizzas, the coverage and results taste all the sweeter for no sleep!

Other random requests… please find a life sized clamshell for a mermaid to sit in, dress some geese in tiny hats and scarves, ring a zoo to see if we can borrow a tiger, contact those people who live in the house in the middle of the M62, can you find 10 vertically challenged people we can throw at a wall and we need to make a life sized portrait of the queen from salad – any artists up for that?!

We’d love to hear the most bonkers things you’ve ever wanted to do, so come see us on stand 92 and we’ll compare notes over some popcorn!


Brazen will be exhibiting at this year’s Prolific North Live on February 28th & March 1st. To learn more about what they offer hit here.

Can Games Boost Your Marketing Campaigns?


The below blog was written by journalist George Osborn, an originally appeared on the Team Cooper website.


I have always been sceptical when someone has told me that games – or game mechanics – can be used successfully in a marketing campaign.

Since the start of 2017, I’ve invested at least 200 hours in games such as Football Manager, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Overwatch – with each game capturing my attention for different reasons.

But when someone has told me that games can be used to drive online marketing, I’ve tended to smile politely and gently nod my head while concealing my thoughts that they’re more gimmicky than effective.

So when Team Cooper – a BAFTA nominated digital agency that creates online and mobile games for brands – contacted me to ask if I’d like to look into the topic, I decided to dive in headfirst to see what I would discover.

To my surprise, I found out that companies do see tangible benefits from using branded games within their marketing efforts. But while they certainly can have a positive impact, companies need to think carefully about how their business, brand and the game they’re creating come together to ensure they actually benefit.

Getting in the game

Before exploring the games and their benefits to businesses in depth, the first thing I wanted to find out was why businesses commission games. And the answer can be broadly summarised in one word: engagement.

Stephanie Schönmann is the e-business manager for Optiswiss, an independent lens manufacturer based in Switzerland. 98% of orders for its B2B business shop come online. For Schönmann, an online game was seen as a way to help build and maintain a relationship with Optiswiss’s customer base.

“The aim originally was to motivate more opticians to subscribe to our online shop, increase shop visits of existing customers and to thank them for their loyalty,” she explained to me.

James Butler, website manager for DFDS UK, echoed that sentiment. He told me that the company dipped its toes into the gaming water to give a handy bump to sales from existing customers.

“We use these games as a sales boosters and a vehicle to enhance engagement, [and] our main measurement is bookings off the back of a game,” said Butler.

And part of the appeal of using a game to do this instead of another tool in the marketing arsenal is to provide a softer experience that consumers appreciate.

Optiswiss, for example, has a relatively complicated online shopping site due to the nature of the optician’s industry. Schönmann argues that a game had the potential to act as a palate cleanser to help customers through the experience.

“We wanted to offer an entertaining contrast in our otherwise sophisticated shop structure,” she said. “But we also like to keep close contact to our customers and seeing that many optician employees using our shop are between age 20 to 35, a game offers the perfect platform to communicate our values in an entertaining way.”

Games can also be used within a company’s broader community engagement strategy, including to support corporate social responsibility.

Beazley, a specialist insurance company, has been sending out games to its client base for Christmas for the past seven years. Jon Labram, Brand and Design Manager for the Beazley Group, told me that a big reason why they do it is to save money so they can spend it on other causes.

“Instead of sending out printed greeting cards during the festive period, we donate the money saved to our chosen charity and develop a game to email out to our broker community,” he said, suggesting that the digital aspect of video games can lead to unexpected advantages.

A closer look at the games

While it’s clear that engaging customers through entertainment is one of the main reason businesses turn to games in marketing, a closer look at the games reveals an interesting divergence in goals between businesses.

Rather than there being a one size fits all approach to either strategy or game mechanics, the games representing each company differed in a number of ways to help them reach their objectives.

One of DFDS’s games took this into account with its second title called Jack’s Quayside Kickabout. The game challenges players to rack up points by hitting targets with a football. Anyone who secured a four figure score in the game – which was timed to coincide with Euro 2016 – was entered into a prize draw to win PS4s, footballs and even a mini ferry break. This motivated players to check out the DFDS website, but also sign up for news and information about the company.

Optiswiss took a slightly different approach with the games it created. The company’s festive Christmas Game is an infinite runner that gets players hurling Santa across rooftops for as long as possible.

If a player cleared 250m on the first day, they received a free Lindt chocolate in the post. But if they kept coming back and beating a higher target over each of the following four days, they could boost their chocolate total to five – encouraging players back to the site.

And for Beazley, the unifying theme of their games, such as Festive Flurry and Jingle Jet – is providing a simple shot of fun as a thank you to their partners, with an emphasis on Christmassy content to tie them back into their role as card replacements.

How well do the games perform?

Having sat down to play each game, it’s fair to say they’re pretty simple and won’t be threatening my Rocket League addiction any time soon.

But their simplicity is in their favour. The stripped down nature both makes the game casual enough for a broader audience to enjoy and simple enough for it to be released quickly in line with a carefully conceived marketing campaign.

And, despite my scepticism, the convergence of lightly compelling casual game mechanics and tangible business actions – such as driving a sign up or getting a customer back to the website the next day – seemed to do the business.

Despite working within a niche industry, Optiswiss’s Christmas Game was played by nearly 4000 people 75,000 times. The game averaged 19.5 plays per customer, with session lengths of over 6 minutes as players battled to hit the daily target. This, according to Schönmann, had a positive impact on the company’s business.

“During this time [of the Christmas Game campaign], we’ve recorded a strong increase in shop visits and also new subscribers,” she said. “Furthermore, our customers started to create groups on Facebook and other social media channels informing other opticians about the game and discussing strategies on how to beat the goals. These outcomes are difficult to measure, but they surely have a positive impact on the company’s image”.

In Beazley’s case, their most recent game received over 60,000 plays from their client base during the Christmas period – suggesting that their customers responded well to the concept.

And DFDS have doubled down on their commitment to games since the release of Jack’s Quayside Kickabout. The company has worked with Team Cooper to release two additional games featuring their mascot Jack the Pirate to support their marketing objectives.

Summing up

Having spoken to businesses about the impact of games on their marketing efforts, it’s clear that I underestimated their potential usefulness to companies. Although the level of interaction and play time in their games was well below what I’d expect in the games industry, the average 18 minute play time across the Team Cooper portfolio is well above the average interaction time for most digital marketing offerings.

But why was that the case? To my mind, there were three reasons why games proved particularly successful for these companies.

First, they were simple engaging titles based on games that have already been wildly popular. Businesses wishing to use a game in a marketing campaign must accept that casual titles are the obvious way to go, both to engage as many players as possible and to ensure development time and costs do not get out of hand.

Second, each campaign benefitted from seasonality. As opposed to most casual online and mobile games, which offer long-term services, businesses benefitted from releasing their games to coincide with holidays and sporting events. This suggests a game is best used in a marketing campaign when the people who it is aimed at are likely to have some free time on their hands.

Third and finally, games seem best suited to driving community engagement and retention rather than direct sales. In comparison to something like a Facebook app install ad, which has a direct goal and straightforward purchasing model, the games I examined had an important – but less tangible – impact on their audience. Games should therefore supplement other campaigns, rather than solely drive them.

So games can be part of a marketers toolkit. But it’s important that businesses think carefully about what they want to achieve, when they want to achieve it and which type of game they want to promote.

Team Cooper will be exhibiting at this year’s Prolific North Live at Event City on February 28th and March 1st. Their Marketing Manager, Cari Kirby, will also be delivering a talk in the Prolific North Live Insights Theatre. You can register your attendance here.

Social in 2018 Will Be Similar Conversations With Interesting Twists


The below blog was written by the team at Brazen. Brazen is a multi-award winning PR & Content Marketing agency with offices in Manchester and Dubai.


New Year may be about resolutions but in agency land it’s PREDICTIONS. That leads to questions: what new features will platforms introduce? How will consumers use social this year? Who will be the key players? It’s all up for grabs when it comes to future gazing.

However, we’re not donning space boots. We’re not astronauts (although our latest campaign in space for Wilko says otherwise).

We’re interested in near future changes in social media and content that will impact our clients this year – it’s going to be a very interesting 2018.  

Content

It’s been on the lips of marketers for years and the content conversation isn’t going away, in fact it will continue being your biggest investment in 2018. That means another year of video, more interesting conversations about voice/audio and more short-life content in the form of Stories.

Social-first premium video services (such as Facebook Watch) will dial up the production values of social video and don’t be surprised to see that impact the look and feel of your newsfeed as we see more publisher content and more storytelling sit between pictures of your friend’s babies. Micro content will still have a role to play though as Stories becomes the most uttered word in social content considerations. Stories are everywhere and their importance in 2018 shouldn’t be underestimated (it has already started with Facebook testing their impact within Whatsapp). Whatever the outcome, short-life content is going to be an always on play for brands or users alike. The question remains; what will that do for Snapchat’s IP?

Influencers

2017 was another bumper year for influencers and influencer marketing. We have seen Instagram legitimise influencer activities with new tools as well as seeing more and more brands commit to using third party content creators as their voice. There have been bumps along the road – questions around authenticity, high profile YouTubers making major errors in judgement, etc. – but it’s sure to grow as a tactic in 2018 and we see two key trends emerging.

Firstly, influencer marketing has to mature and that means transcending payments for single serving pieces of content in lieu of longer term and more profitable partnerships between brand and creator. This will only strengthen the power of influencers and allows brands and agencies to prosper long term. Secondly, the emergence of younger and Generation Alpha influencers will have a major impact in the partnerships we see, the content we create and the way we communicate with the new school of influencers.

Source: Brazen

Platforms

No conversation about social is complete without mentioning the major players and their efforts/aspirations to innovate and stand out against competitors. So, what should we expect from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, or even a name we’ve not discovered yet?

Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Instagram should continue to thrive in 2018. Continued conversation about privacy and access will exist but we can’t see their position of power being destabilized by the rest of the crowd.

However, it will be an interesting year for YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter. YouTube had a rocky 2017 and needs to stabilize its position as de facto video network in light of Facebook Watch. Keen focus on ad products, targeting and advertiser fear should fill their to-do list for the near future. Snapchat is also on the rocks. Instagram has stolen its core IP (stories) and its efforts to pivot with wearables failed last year. It needs a direction fast, a lesson thankfully Twitter seems to have addressed. The jury is still out on Twitter’s long term place in social media but recent changes to its stance on abuse should fix its biggest issue. We just need to keep an eye on where they go next.      

Real World Social

When your work is engineered around a screen it’s easy to ignore the impact of social IRL but that is all going to change in 2018. The volume of augmented reality mentions will continue to rise, as will the number of brands/agencies experimenting with AR installations, campaigns and stunts, but we think there is a simpler trend emerging – social optimised space. When you’re hosting an event, trying to drive experience in-store or just trying to connect the physical with digital, getting a customer/fan to snap a photo, share a video or signal to their community that they are part of your physical experience is key.

Come see us on stand 92 at Prolific North Live to chat about 2018 in more detail, we’ll be a bit further into 2018 then, so there might be even more exciting developments to chat about. 

Shopit signs up latest Premier Partners ahead of eCommerce Show North launch

Manchester’s emerging ecommerce platform Shopit is able to announce that it is to collaborate with the first new additions to its Premier Partner programme.

Award winning North West agencies Klick n Tap and Lo & Behold will offer Shopit websites to their ecommerce clients, as an alternative to established brands like Magento and Woocommerce.

It’s another major boost for the fast moving software house, which is set to make its first public appearance at eCommerce Show North on October 11th and 12th at Event City.

Startup to watch

As one of the ten ‘startups to watch’ selected by Tech North, Shopit will be offering demo workshops to agencies and clients alike, to show how the platform delivers proper efficiencies and organisation to the fast and furious world of ecommerce.
The 2 newest Premier Partners have already highlighted a number of ways that their agency is going to benefit from offering Shopit as an option.

Faster turnarounds
The two agencies, which are established players in the digital sector, were impressed by the versatility and speed of build when they trialled the new system.
“We’ve already seen a distinct and measurable improvement in our efficiencies”, explains Kit Hargreaves of Klick N Tap, which has offices in both Manchester and Hull.
“A Shopit site is quicker and easier to put together than Magento CE, and we can bill at the same rates because it matches the functionality. Clients are seeing faster turnaround times too.”

Creative Freedom
Fellow agency owner Dave Bowers of Lo & Behold was impressed by the creative freedom that the platform enables.
“As a design agency, the freedom to be creative is important to our identity as people and as a solution provider”, he explains.
“We begin each web project with client workshops to explore the brand, what’s being offered and the client’s motivations. Shopit gives us that freedom – to code front ends however and in whatever codebase we want.”

Closer Support
Bowers also highlighted the benefit of being able to work closely with a local software house on a new system, as it allows them to be much more responsive to client needs and issues.
“Working with the Shopit team is a far more collaborative experience than other platforms, which is inspiring. It’s UK – and indeed Manchester – support which makes projects run smoother”.
Meanwhile, Shopit director Adam Pritchard is delighted with the progress of the platform.
“This is a major breakthrough for us as the platform is fast become a recognised brand on the Manchester tech scene”, enthuses Pritchard. “Once they see the platform, our credibility amongst agencies is growing all the time”.
“Alongside our upcoming conference appearance, and our recent nomination for an Digital Entrepreneur Award, it shows we are making real headway as a business this year”.

Shopit will be appearing at the eCommerce Show North on Oct 11th & 12th, at Trafford’s Event City venue.
The winners of the Digital Entrepreneur Awards are announce on the 22nd November.
You can follow them at @ShopItCommerce on Twitter, for updates.

5 Minutes with….. The Sharp Project

1. Can you tell us a bit about The Sharp Project and what you do?
The Sharp Project is an amazing home to unique and innovative digital content creators.
There are over 60 creative digital businesses based on site, specialising in everything from VR gaming to CGI animation, app development to video production and digital forensics amongst much, much more.
The array of entrepreneurial talent that occupy our spaces and production studios each day is truly inspiring.

2. What made you sign up as an exhibitor at Prolific North Live?
We exhibited last year and had a great time – as a meeting place for the North West creative digital sector it worked really well so the ambition to increase the event’s scale was very welcome.
We’re passionate about the sector developing and events such as Prolific North Live are key to driving it forward.
As with last year we’re sharing space with our sister site The Space Project so looking forward to meeting clients from across the region, both old and new.

3. What are you looking forward to bringing to the event?
As well as being able to talk to the wider sector about our spaces we want to showcase the huge range of creative businesses that are based at The Sharp Project.
We have such a unique range of talent onsite (based in shipping containers through to converted stages) so bringing that community to the event makes us very proud.

4. What excites you most about the North’s media and creative sectors?
Since opening in 2011 we’ve seen the sector grow massively and in so many dynamic ways.
What excites us is the variety and scale of talent in the region and how that is driving the growth.
Our tenant base reflects that so we see it every day – there’s a tremendous work ethic here. It’s truly inspirational.

5. Why is the North such an exciting place to be right now for creative and digital businesses?
In Manchester there’s a collective goal to be a global digital city – with collaboration across the sector, skills development and a nurturing of entrepreneurial talent that’s very a
chievable.
We see businesses starting in shipping containers and rapidly expanding to bigger spaces, taking on more staff and clients so knowing this is happening across the region makes it very exciting.

6. If The Sharp Project could have a dinner party with three people, dead or alive, who would they be?

We’d invite Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google to a game of table tennis in our Campus after dinner, Baroness Joanna Shields, the UK’s first lady of technology, who can help inspire more women to come into the sector and an American called Malcom Purcell McLean who invented the shipping container as we’d like to show him what we’ve done with them.

Fake News

Fake news is a topic on the tongues of many people at the moment. MP’s are investigating the threat to democracy and seeing whether websites and social media platforms such as Google and Twitter need to take more of a responsibility in the control of fake news.

What do we class as fake news?
Is it the deliberate making up of a story purely for entertainment value? Or is it when a real news story has details added in to make it part real/ part not real?
Social media has become a place where real and fake stories are shared in such a similar way; users are having a tough time knowing the truth from the lies.

If we think about the number of users of social media across the globe, and then how many of these users use social media to obtain all their news; this equates to a huge proportion of people who may never see genuine news stories.

Lucy Mangan, Columnist for Stylist Magazine, made a valid point in last week’s issue when she said we are all journalists now. We have become our own experts’ evaluating a story’s source before we truly believe everything we read and having to ‘sift facts, opinion and outright fiction.’

For PR’s the ‘post-truth’ era is definitely among us but what can we do to avoid falling into the fake news trap and ensure clients are ready should they fall victim to fake news:

  • Be ready to respond straight away to anything untruthful- reputations that took years to build up can be ruined in less than 5 words
  • Anything being talked about on social media, if it has enough shares, can become a story in itself so make sure you monitor social media as closely as you monitor the press so that fake stories do not gain traction
  • If crisis hits, embrace the story and use it as a way to promote your client and flood the media with positive and truthful messages. Be sure to acknowledge the fake story and put it right
  • If you want to share a story on behalf of a client, make sure you check its source and what else is being said on the topic
  • Continue speaking up- continue telling your client story and spread their key messages as far as you can. You never know, but by doing this may result in people never believing fake news in the first place!

In the meantime we’ll keep our eyes out on the findings of the MP’s investigations.

Don’t forget to follow us on twitter @shoppertainmgmt to keep up to date with us!

5 Tweets of the Week

Top 5 tips before you develop an app

1. Be Realistic

Before you head off down the road of app development, you first need to decide whether or not to start walking. To create a worthwhile application that is going to reach as many members of your target audience as possible, you need to invest. Perform a cost-benefit analysis before you start to determine if an app will really benefit you. Can you afford to spend the time creating it yourself? It may be worth your while to invest in an agency.
Of course, there are a great many benefits to having a well-designed and marketed app. Earlier this year, Apple announced that it has over one billion active iOS users while Google claims to have over 1.4 billion active Android users. A good app has the potential to reach out to a lot of consumers.

2. Purpose

If you get to this stage, you’ve probably decided that having an app is more than just a good idea. But what is it that you intend to achieve? Having a clear purpose defined before you begin development will maintain focus on the end goal. Write down your thoughts somewhere so you can keep track of them, and get advice where you can. You may have some good ideas, but are they achievable? Once you have a clear purpose, it is much easier to get other people on board – transparency is key.
After you’ve established a purpose, you need a way to measure the success of your app. Utilising analytics will help to show you how your app is being used, and if the app is fulfilling its purpose. If you are not achieving targets; you need to know quickly, so that you can make the necessary changes.

3. Research

Once you’ve established the foundations of your app, the main purpose, you need to do some research. Take a look on the various app stores on different platforms and search for applications that have a similar purpose to your own. If you can’t find any, then you’ve found a niche. But take heed; while you may have found a gap in the market, there may be a reason for developers avoiding it.
If the app that you want to create is similar to existing apps, then play around with them. What do they do well, where to they fall short? You need to be able to create an app that functions at least the same standard. Ideally, you want your app to be the best option on the market. Take the role of the consumer – what is it you want to see?

4. Target Audience

Who is your app for? Knowing your audience will give you valuable information that enables you to streamline the functionality of your app, and keep costs down. You need to know which platform your users are most likely to use, which devices are the most popular, and how they differ. Don’t spend time and money creating features that your audience will not use. You need to know if it’s worth porting your app to most platforms if you discover that the majority of your audience is on Android.

5. Budgeting

Know what you are willing to spend before you spend it. Commissioning an app is only one cost, you need to be clear that there are other expenses. To ensure that your app remains fully functional, you will need to think about maintenance, to iron out any bugs. More importantly, you will need to consider the vital task of marketing. If you want to market a new app idea, you will likely need to match your development budget. If you are developing an app for an existing market, you may need to spend almost ten times the development budget if you want to employ disruptive marketing. Scale your expectations to your budget requirements.
For 5 more tips to help you develop a successful app, please checkout The Distance’s blog post. They will be exhibiting at Prolific North Live 2017 at stand 120, so be sure to swing by to pick up many more wise words of wisdom.

About the author

Anthony Main is the MD of The Distance – a 100% UK app development company. Their brand represents their long term commitment to their client relationships and projects. The Distance was founded in 2009 shortly after the launch of the Apple Appstore and is entirely focused on the development of mobile-based solutions. With clients ranging from new start-ups through to global enterprises, they are a valued partner in business. Their portfolio includes brands such as the NHS, Bentley Motors, Astra Zeneca, Slimming World, Camden Market, SafeStyle UK, Virgin East Coast Trains.

How to have a fun social presence as a B2B company

It’s a common misconception that B2B companies can’t speak to people like people.

It’s thought that if you’re talking to other companies, suddenly people stop being people. This simply isn’t true. Whatever you’ve created is still talking to someone, one on one. You are addressing a person.

Another misconception is that B2B companies can’t have a sense of humour, or fun, about their work. This, again, couldn’t be further from the truth.

We’re going to look at a few examples from some of the big players and see how they do it. These companies, at all times, remembered that their audience is made of people, not faceless companies. Here is how to have a fun social presence as a B2B company.

General Electric Instagram

image01

General Electric Company (GE) is a global digital industrial company. The Company’s products and services range from aircraft engines, power generation and oil and gas production equipment to medical imaging, financing and industrial products. Sounds pretty solidly B2B, doesn’t it?

GE uses their social channels to express their awe and fascination – not with their products, but with science and innovation as a whole. They have an Instagram following of 185,000, many of whom are highly engaged. What’s the secret to their success? They treat their audience how they would want to be treated; with intelligence and respect. Some of the work GE produces is highly technical – but it doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining.

Their social platforms are the ultimate lesson in ‘don’t sell the product, sell its context.’ There’s no call to action to buy, it’s just showing the incredible projects they work on. And as a follower, nothing could be more interesting.

Maersk Shipping’s Facebook

image02Image taken from Maersk’s Facebook page

Just to be clear, yes we’re talking about the Danish shipping company Maersk. With an incredible 1.1 million people following them, it’s hard not to be in awe of Maersk’s social efforts. If you think about it, Maersk have got a major advantage; they work on a huge scale.

Big stuff is impressive to anyone, regardless if you’re a customer or a passing social user. One video shows a 2million volume shipping container being filled. As a sentence, that’s pretty boring – the video is anything but. The scale of it is incredible. And that is what engages Maersk’s users. What is everyday to their company is exceptional to anyone else. Their channels embrace that philosophy and put it centre stage. The result? Over seven thousand video views of a shipping container being filled.

Screwfix’s Facebook

As Screwfix serve both home DIYers and the trade, their social feeds tread a fine line between B2C and B2B. Their Facebook page is a solid example of how to use humour to engage customers. Most posts are a giant pun-off, sharing haphazard building techniques, dodgy installations and ridiculous everyday occurrences. It’s genuinely entertaining, and with the occasional smattering of product posts, Screwfix are successfully pushing their brand and speaking in the tone of voice their audience will relate to. Who says screws don’t have a sense of humour?

Hubspot’s Twitter

Tweet embed:

Hubspot market to marketers, which is meta, but they’re considered to be the best at it. Why? Well, they started in 2006, and then two years later recorded a profit of $2.2 million and then four years later recorded a profit of $54 million, so it looks like they’re doing something right.

One of Hubspot’s highlights is their Twitter feed. Aside from the fact they offer endlessly useful content, always seem to know a trend before it’s happening and are almost telepathic in the content it’s users crave, it’s also a good case study to model your own social efforts on. Problem solving is pushed over product. User’s need is placed before the company’s gain. They’re there as an encyclopedic reference point to return to again and again.

And most importantly, it’s fun. It’s fun to learn something that’s presented in a visually interesting way. It’s fun to see the trends that are coming up for your market. Hubspot’s human approach has earned them 737 thousand followers. They must be onto something.

Key takeaways for your own social efforts

A sense of humour is no bad thing, as long as it’s executed in the right tone of voice for your audience.
Your social content must have value, as well entertain.
What is everyday to you is out of the ordinary to others. Celebrate that.

About the author
Simon Landi is one of the founding members of Manchester-based marketing communications agency Access, and has been running the business since 1999. With extensive experience across many sectors including travel & tourism, B2B and not for profit, Simon’s background has seen him work for a variety of household names. His focus on engaging with customers at every stage of their journey, inspired him to develop Access’ very own live event social media tool EventStreamLive