Top 10 tips for social media success

You don’t need me to tell you how important social media is – 1.7 billion people across the world have active social media accounts and that’s growing day by day. Creating successful social media channels take time and dedication, but are an important way for brands to engage with both current and future customers/clients. Here are my top 10 tips for maximising your channels.

1) Work out which channels work for you

There’s no point in joining every social media channel you can find if you’re not going to have the time to invest in them. Consider the nature of your audience and what channels they will be using. Twitter is often a good starting point as there are people of all ages who use it and you can select targeted people to follow in the hope that they will follow you back. If you’re looking to post fun and shareable content that you think people will enjoy looking at in their spare time, try Facebook. To engage with businesses and professionals, the obvious choice is LinkedIn.

Oh and whilst you’re there, don’t forget about Instagram – which now has more users than Twitter. Just make sure you have some nice images to put on it of course.

2) Spend time researching and developing strong content

‘Content is king’ might be the most overused phrase in marketing, but it really is true. If you want your channels to do well then you’re going to need to spend some time developing the content and your website – working out what you want to say about your brand. Could you get some video testimonials from clients? Is there anything fun happening in the office that you could take pictures of or blog about? Seen an article that you think your audience might enjoy?

Build yourself a content strategy build the key times of the year for your business into it – if Christmas or the school holidays are a really important time for you, make the most of those.

3) Develop a clear tone of voice

For most brands, a friendly tone of voice is key. Your customers/clients want to know that there’s someone behind the account that’s interacting with them, so don’t be afraid to put a little bit of personality into it – “We love this hilarious article by…” “It was great to see our client Sarah today…”.

My old university, Aston, does this really well. They keep the tweets nice and simple when referring to schemes and events targeted at businesses and the wider community, but come across really friendly when chatting with students.

4) Deal with queries and feedback in a friendly and efficient way

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to contact a company through social media, and them not replying. Keep an eye on your channels as often as you can and try and reply to any queries efficiently and politely.

More and more customers are now using social media as a quick way to complain or give negative feedback. The worst thing you can do is ignore these messages – tell them that you’re really sorry to hear about their bad experience and encourage them to email or direct message you to discuss this further away from the public’s eye. London Midland are a good example of this on Twitter – they are bombarded with messages from delayed commuters and are always quick to apologise and offer explanations.

5) Use images

It’s been proven that posts with images are more likely to get interaction, so have a think about images that could accompany your posts – get snapping when you’re out and about! Graphics are great too if you know someone who can make them. You can find all the sizing information you need here.

6) Join other people’s conversations

Twitter gives you the power to search key terms, so use it to search for people who might be interested in you. Search key words around what you’re selling/doing and join in people’s conversations without doing the hard sell. You can do this on Facebook too by looking for pages or groups in your area or industry and interacting with them.

7) Have a look at what the competition are doing

What are your competitors doing? What’s working well for them? If they’ve got some brilliant ideas, think about how you could use them for your brand – is there similar websites you could post articles from? Could you spend time taking nice pictures like theirs? Just don’t be too much of a copycat!

8) Use free tools to help you

Social media management dashboards are making everyone’s lives a lot easier because they allow you to schedule all your posts and monitor your channels at once – and they’re free! My personal favourite is Hootsuite, it’s really simple to use and will even put your posts out for you at what it deems the most popular times.

9) Offer incentives if appropriate

If you can run a competition, these can be really popular and help to grow your audience by encouraging people to share your posts with their contacts. Use it to get user-generated content by asking customers to send in testimonials or images about your product or service in order to win.

10) Use analytics

Make sure you’re tracking what you’re doing so you can see if it’s working. Facebook and Twitter now have their own analytics that work really well – they can help you see week on week whether your numbers are growing and help you establish which posts are most popular. Keep a track of them in a spreadsheet so you can track your growth over longer periods of time.

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A politician. A communicator. A man who knew the power of broadcast.


Much has been said and even more will be written during the course of the next few days about Charles Kennedy, former Lib Dem leader and overall, someone widely respected and reckoned to be “one of the good guys”.

Yes, like all of us, he had his failings but it is as a communicator that many will personally remember him – and a brilliant communicator at that.

He had the ability to convey his message politely but firmly; to embrace his audience but rarely to antagonise; to set out a vision and encourage his followers to believe in it. The twinkle in his eye revealed a man of great humour but also of great integrity.

I had the privilege of sitting next to him during a business lunch at which he was speaking. It must have been around 2002 when he was two or three years into his LibDem leadership and he had secured the LibDems’ extraordinary election gains. He was an affable man (although slightly more reserved than I imagined he would be), engaging in his approach but also a little more nervous about his forthcoming talk than I would anticipate for such an accomplished performer.

And then we got onto his appearances on BBC’s Have I got news for you? I commented that I hadn’t seen him recently and asked if, in view of his current commitments, he had decided to turn his back on what could have been an impressive broadcasting career. He turned the question on me. “You’re in PR. What would you advise if I was a client?” he asked.

The implication of course, was that it – the programme – was too frivolous. Not serious enough for a serious politician. But…personally, I enjoyed his appearances on the show – and not in the excruciating way in which we watch for the likes of other politicians. John Prescott comes to mind.

“You should continue,” I said thinking that straight talking was the order of the day. “You reach many more people than you will on a party political broadcast. And they probably listen too,” I added. (Today, entertainment programmes such as HIGNFY reach around 17% of the audience; party political broadcasts just 0.1%.)

It was sheer bravado on my part. An immediate reaction when such advice should be properly considered and the options analysed.

He nodded, said he’d think it through and a few years later did indeed re-appear on the programme- both as a panellist and as guest presenter – and also as a great communicator.

But I don’t think for one minute that my advice was instrumental. He was a man who I reckon followed his own instinct. And communicated it well.

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From Turnov to Wythall



Hello, I am Vojtech – a student of product design from Zelezny Brod in Czech Republic. I was given the opportunity to undertake work experience at the start of my school year and I was lucky enough to be chosen by Clarke Associates to do a four week placement.

When I first arrived at Clarke Associates I was little bit scared, because I wasn’t used to the workplace environment and I found my understanding of English wasn’t as great as I had thought! I’d soon met everybody in the office and the graphic designer Ian showed me my work station. There was a computer and room to do some sketching – it was time to get started!

One of my first tasks was to design a logo for a marketing campaign Clarke Associates are currently working on with the Peak District National Park. I started by browsing the web to find some inspiration; I did some sketches and then started to design using Adobe Illustrator. After creating some concepts I sent it over to Ian to show the client. I also worked on some illustrations to accompany the code of conduct, and helped Ian create icons for use on the trails.

By the time I started my second week, I already felt my understanding of English was getting better. I was getting used to the work environment and felt that everyone was really friendly. My next task was to design a poster for Warwick Music Group’s pBone competition Bone Idol, a competition in which students nominate their trombone idol to win a session with plastic trombones for their school. I put together many different concepts and variants of the poster, worked on a postcard and put together cover photos for Facebook and Twitter too.

I’ve also been designing a cover for a guide to Birmingham, I was unsure about how to approach it. Now I’ve tackled it, I think it was some of my best work. I started by searching for some suitable photos of iconic Birmingham landmarks like the Bullring, the Cube and The Library of Birmingham, before sketching five different concepts.

I have really enjoyed my work experience at Clarke Associates and I am really glad to have had the opportunity. I think it has been beneficial for a number of reasons – I got hands-on experience, I learnt about a new culture and I got to practise my English.

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Looking East: Clarke Associates forges China partnership


Over the past few months Clarke Associates has been working on the creation of a China business unit, calling on the knowledge and insights I gained whilst living and working in Beijing.

Our efforts are starting to bear fruit; we’re incredibly excited to announce that we have forged a formal partnership with Hong Kong-based public relations agency ETMG.

Part of the work involves assisting with native English copywriting and editing for major global clients, whilst another part involves gaining knowledge and expertise in SEO for China’s top search engine Baidu and in Chinese social media channels like Weibo and Wechat.

The work is proving both interesting and challenging as we seek to deliver against an eight-hour time difference.

Using Mandarin, we are able to cross reference the Chinese copy to ensure that the content is not only reproduced in native English but is also an accurate reflection of the original wording. We’re doing this for brochures, websites, press releases and social media campaigns.

Whilst ETMG gets the benefit of delivering good native English to important clients, we are able to enjoy a relationship with a business that has unrivalled insights into China and is able to assist with any projects we work on in the Middle Kingdom.

As is often the case with doing business in China, this successful partnership has come about thanks to the nurturing of a long-standing relationship with a partner at ETMG based on trust and responding to projects in a timely manner.

It’s great to be working with an agency on the other side of the world, particularly in China where I spent four fascinating years. The partnership has come at the right time for both of us.

At Clarke Associates we want to use our knowledge and contacts to assist clients in the UK with an interest in China, whilst we’ve been able to provide ETMG with a high quality English copywriting resource – one that comes with Mandarin insights.

We’re looking forward to developing our relationship with ETMG over the coming months and years.

I asked Cynthia Cui, MD of ETMG, for her thoughts on the initiative. She said: “Our partnership with Clarke Associates is proving to be incredibly fruitful and we’ve established a great working relationship in a very short space of time. Our business is growing very quickly and as China develops deeper trade ties in the Western world, it’s vital that we are able to produce marketing materials in good native English.”

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Why cloud technology is a silver lining for SMEs


Not all of us have heard of cloud technology – but I guarantee most of us are using it: Cloud technology is a form of computing that relies on sharing computing resources – rather than having local servers or even a personal device to handle applications.

The word ‘cloud’ is simply a metaphor for ‘the Internet’, so the phrase cloud technology or cloud computing means that something is a type of internet-based computing, where different services such as servers, storage and applications — are delivered to companies computers and devices through the Internet. Common work tools that use cloud technology are online workspaces such as huddle, podio, Google Docs, Dropbox and Kahootz or communication tools such as Skype and Mailchimp.

The development of cloud technology has unlocked a world of easy access and opportunity for many small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). However, adoption of this new technology has been slow (companies are perhaps not clear on what the benefits are, or the security around the data storage).

Cloud technology has the potential to revolutionise the way we communicate at work; effective adoption of cloud technology can improve efficiency in communication – so here are five reasons that I think businesses should be embracing cloud technology:

1) Fast and easy access:

Cloud storage space and access for websites communication can combine video, voice, text and document control technologies ensuring fast and easy access to their information – making your business communication as effective as possible.

The cloud enables people to work together seamlessly; to collaborate with colleagues and other stakeholder’s to help their customers keep in touch wherever they are – even when they are mobile or working from home.

2) Always up-to-date:

Due to the hosted nature of cloud services, users always have access to the latest technology therefore future-proofing an organisation in a cost-effective way (without the need for pricey upgrades!)

3) The sky is not your limit

Not only can you manage your information remotely – giving you greater freedom and flexibility – but this technology means that SMEs are more capable of competing on a global scale with larger businesses.

Technology is becoming less expensive and more accessible to any size business, which will drive more world-wide operations. Small businesses will become more competitive as they won’t experience scale limitations.

4) The death of the desktop computer?

Gone are the days of needing a specific type of device to work the business’s network. Whether you’re working on a smartphone a desktop or tablet – everyone can collaborate with cloud-based applications.

And this is just the start… service providers are continuing to work towards making their apps work on any type of device. Working entirely via smartphone or tablet is becoming a viable option (watch this space!)

5) Step into my office…

Businesses could see a rise in decentralising and hiring more full-time employees who work outside the company’s HQ.

With videoconferencing and other cloud services, employees now have the technology available to work completely remotely. This means a greater ability to integrate talent from anywhere, and flexibility in order to fit around different life-styles.

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One month on from its launch, should we embrace the new Google mobile algorithm?

Ian1On 21 April 2015 Google announced it was releasing a new algorithm, which changes the way search results are ranked on mobile devices, rewarding sites that provide a good mobile experience for users. Though updates won’t affect desktop search results, this basically means that if your website isn’t currently responsive or user friendly, Google will drop it down in the search results.

Does that matter?

With 48 per cent of web searches now occurring on mobile devices and more than 80 per cent of us now owning a smartphone, there is now a real need for businesses to consider upgrading to a brand new responsive site, or risk losing traffic and customers.

How do I know if my website is up-to-scratch?

Google has a mobile-friendly test that will allow you to see if your website is mobile optimised and user friendly. It looks at certain things, for example text being legible, easy to use navigation and the ability to view the site without having to zoom in multiple times.

What to do next?

1. Test your website using Google’s ‘mobile friendly test‘.

2. Fix any problems with your site to make it more user friendly e.g remove flash, improve navigation and adjust text size.

3. Upgrade to a responsive website.

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Proud to be working to promote our area


We’re proud to be a small business located in North Worcestershire, so it was great to be able to work on an event to promote the area as an investment location.

More than 100 senior business people flocked to the event – held in the unique surroundings of Avoncroft Museum, in Bromsgrove.

Clarke Associates was appointed to the work by North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration (NWEDR) – a partnership of local authorities providing economic development and regeneration services for Wyre Forest, Bromsgrove and Redditch.

Our remit was to:

  • Review and redefine content on the NWEDR website.
  • Develop a strapline to support the overall offering of the area.
  • Develop a series of compelling reasons about why North Worcestershire is a place to do business and invest.
  • Commission a series of videos to bring the area’s story to life.
  • Organise and manage the delivery of a high profile business event, at which the new NWEDR website was launched.

The 14th century Guesten Hall, at Avoncroft Museum, in Bromsgrove – right at the centre of the North Worcestershire area and a quirky and unusual venue, proved attractive to attendees.
We even managed to get a message via video from former CBI boss (and Worcestershire lad) Lord Digby Jones, as well as gaining extensive positive coverage in local media.

You can check out the video here

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“i before m” – meet Jaime…


Hello, I’m Jaime. I’m the newest recruit at Clarke Associates, and I’ve been an Account Executive here for about a month now.

I am currently a student at Aston University, in my final year of my English Language degree. Once I’ve reached my dreaded dissertation deadline at the beginning of May, and handed in my 10,000 words, I’ll be working here at Clarke Associates full time.

I worked part time as a PR and Marketing assistant at my university for a year and a half during my studies, gaining experience in social media, internal communications, public relations and event management. I think holding down a part-time job during your studies is really beneficial – a degree alone is not enough in the graduate jobs market anymore. Although I loved working at Aston, the opportunity to work in a fast-paced, dynamic agency environment was something that really excited me.

I sent my CV in and was invited for an informal interview. The offices at The Old School House in Wythall were lovely and the team were incredibly friendly, I immediately felt at home. I was over the moon when I was offered the position a week later.

From day one I felt like a valued part of the team – within my first week I was managing social media channels for global brands, analysing KPIs and pulling together press releases. There’s something new to get your teeth stuck into every day, and it’s great to see your work making a difference to clients.

I chose a career in public relations as it’s such an exciting industry which is constantly evolving – I’ve found that keeping on top of the latest trends is key. I love the fact I get to be creative, writing press releases, website copy and coming up with ideas for social media, whilst providing really valuable content for our clients.

Within my first couple of weeks at the firm I also got involved in the exciting launch of our new innovative website (complete with a very embarrassing picture of me as an 8-year-old). It consists of just one page, and aims to create a unique and clearer user experience. I think its simplicity is what makes it work – a streamlined design that the user can navigate through efficiently on all platforms can never go wrong in my opinion!

Take a look at our new website

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Promotion beckons for Penny


We are delighted to announce that our senior account executive, Penny Thorp, has been promoted to the position of account manager.

Penny joined the company more than two years ago, and has worked on a broad range of accounts and campaigns. She has become an integral member of the Clarke Associates’ team and over the months and years that she has been with us, has demonstrated some real initiative and, importantly, a great work ethic.

She recently played a big part in the organisation of a high profile business event for more than 100 delegates, and supports other clients in media relations and social media work, specialising in online communication.

She has also got involved with organisations such as Birmingham Future that we regard is really important both in terms of career development but also developing contacts and understanding of the wider business community.

We had a small celebration to announce the occasion last week; needless to say, everyone is very delighted for her.

Well done Penny; keep up the good work.

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Feeling listless or full of ideas?


Most of us make lists: shopping, ‘to do,’ favourite films. I’m sure I’ve got a list of my lists somewhere.

But not only are they a means to ensure we don’t forget to pick up the pasta for tonight’s dinner, lists are also a very effective means of communicating.

Many websites use them to good effect. The BBC’s Top Ten Most Popular Stories list is endemic on its site. A cursory glance at Buzzfeed’s homepage will elicit The Best Ten Lord of the Rings Puns!, One Dozen Instantly Regrettable Tattoos! and 14 People You Won’t Believe Are Real!. I’ve no doubt your Facebook feed is regularly clogged with Cats Dressed Up As Famous People! For what it’s worth, I think the text lists are inevitably those that don’t require an exclamation mark – they’re usually good enough to stand up on their own.

So, is this all a case of extreme dumbing down, or are lists actually a good way of communicating your point effectively?

Ask me a few years ago and I’d have jumped on my high horse and said the former, but given how people are now bordering on being predisposed to getting their information in bite-sized chunks via the web, and I’d say they’re a really good way of pricking interest or gaining attention.

They’re short, simple and you can link them to something more in-depth if you need to. They can be fun, provocative and thought-provoking. And they’re something you can share with others, dip in and out of and be the catalyst for other ideas.

Linked to an infographic, they can be the spark for a creative campaign or a means to generate traffic on social media.

So let’s not belittle the humble list – scribbled on a scrap of paper, dominant on your homepage or trending away on Twitter, they’re very much the modern way.

I could go on, but I’m currently compiling a list of Ten Celebs Whose Faces Look Like Mattresses, so I’m sure you’ll appreciate I’m busy…

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