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Social media strategy

Written by Hamish Braddick on June 22nd, 2010.      0 comments

Strategic approach - A Social Media Plan

The more you plan out your strategy the more effective your social media presence will be. Here are a few steps to get you started on it:

1. Study target audience and competition

First and foremost, you need to understand your audience - what they are looking for on the Internet, what they are interested in and where these conversations are happening.

To give you an idea, we have used the study conducted by MarketingSherpa and created this graph which shows you the main reasons why people follow companies on social media platforms:

Social Media Strategy

So looking at this graph it's obvious what motivates most of us to follow companies - knowing about any special sales or offers and also learning about  new products or services are among the top two reasons. Use research like this to your benefit when you get into social media - only provide information that is deemed valuable by your followers, otherwise you will start losing them. Having entertaining posts and telling your followers about your company culture is good too but keep the content in balance.

2. Define goals and objectives

Your over all goals for your social media plan should be in line with your business and website goals. Once you have identified your goals, define your objectives. For example - say that your social media goal is to increase the number of leads or sales you get from your website. Now you have to break this down into objectives - in order to achieve this goal, you will have to increase the number of visitors to your website, which will require increasing the number of followers you have in your network. You will also need to post articles and run promotions on your social media platforms to engage your followers and direct this traffic.

MarketingSherpa conducted another study of around 2,300 organisations and asked them what objectives does social media achieve best and here are the responses from all the respondents. 

Objectives Social Media Achieves Best

The results show that most of the marketers agree that the objective achieved best by social media is increasing product awareness, which plays a big part in your marketing goals. But it doesn't stop there, social media can be used to help a number of areas. You can have multiple goals that breakdown into a few different objectives - the trick is to get started on something simple and gradually add to your objectives. For example, objectives like improving customer support quality is something you can start adding to your once you get your feet in and feel comfortable. But don't underestimate the power of social media when it comes to customer support. During the disruptive Icelandic volcano, Heathrow Airport had dedicated staff updating Twitter and Facebook with flight details and also responding to people a lot quicker than waiting get through the customer support which had long back logs, as you would expect.

3. Set success metrics

Once you have your over all goal and objectives, it's time to define your success metrics which means setting definite measurable objectives so you know whether your social media presence is working. Say your goal is to increase number of leads or sales from your website - give this a figure, for example increase it by 5% by the end of the year. And now for each of your objectives do the same - you will need to increase your website visitors by 30% and this might mean you will need to build a network of 1,000 followers by the end of the year and in order to keep them engaged you will need to have at least one post per week on your Facebook page, one every two days on Twitter and one new blog post every week, etc. etc. Each month come back and visit these numbers to make sure that you are on track with your goal. Facebook has a great reporting feature where you get a weekly update on the number of fans on your page, number of visits to your page and also total number of posts. You will have to do this manually for Twitter but if you do it regularly it won't feel like a big job.

Here's another study by MarketingSherpa on what marketers are measuring in their social media plans:

What Social Media Marketers Measure

As you can see, the majority of marketers measure the visitor numbers and also network size in terms of number of followers and fans. Quality and quantity of comments on the posts, search engine ranking and leads generated are also among the top 6 measured areas by majority of the marketers.

4. Pick your platform

There are a number of platforms available to you as far as social media is concerned:


Facebook has become an extremely popular tool for individuals to connect with friends and family online and share personal information such as pictures, social events and birthdays. However these days Facebook is also being used as a very effective channel to connect with customers. The main reason for this is the fact that globally it is estimated that around 200 million people log on to Facebook everyday! Therefore by having a presence on this channel you will be in the same space as most of your customers. So businesses have been starting Facebook pages and having their clients and fans "like" them so they can connect with them on a daily basis. On a Facebook page you can include posts, upload pictures and also publish links your blog or website.


Twitter is a social networking device that allows users to send and read other users' updates, which are known as 'Tweets'. Tweets are typically short and sharp as they can only be up to 140 characters in length and most messages by default are published publicly. This service is widely used by businesses to launch campaigns and to increase brand awareness. Twitter is also great for posting reviews and comments so it can be used as a powerful platform for improving customer satisfaction by being able to directly listen to what the customer is saying about your company.


Blogs are a great tool to keep your followers in the loop - whether it's a personal blog or for your company - these days blogs are becoming very popular because they offer a platform where you can share information. Increasing number of people are looking at blogs to give them information about all sorts of things - product reviews or useful articles on different subjects. There are a number of different blog providers out there, and we have just introduced a blog platform that will integrate with your website - meet with one of our E-Business Consultants to find out more.


Youtube and Flickr are designed for sharing video and images. They offer free space where users can put up pictures or videos of things they are interested in. YouTube is another medium that is becoming an extremely popular channel for businesses as you can create a YouTube account for your company and effectively use it as a 'TV' that features short videos to help your customers. It can also be used to drive traffic to your website because it has effectively become the second largest search engine.


Digg is a place where you can find the best rated content from all over the world. From the weirdest thing on the Internet to the most obscure blogs, Digg will bring the most highly rated content in one portal. It does this by getting submission from the users, then having the other users view it and 'Digg' the articles they like. The submissions that get the most 'Diggs' get to front page, which is viewed by millions of people. So this is another great avenue to include interesting information or publish articles.


LinkedIn is a professional tool used by businesses to network online. Individuals can use it to build an online portfolio by listing their work experience and gathering references so companies can use it as a tool to hire staff. But it is really only used by businesses and does not reach customers.

But by far the most commonly used platforms are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogging. But remember, if you have a solid strategy it doesn't matter if the technology changes and there is some other platform you should be using.

5. Define the architecture

Social media architecture is all about connecting people with your content on landing pages and improving your conversion rate. The entire purpose of social media for business is to direct the conversations that are happening to your website - and this can be done in a number of ways:

  • Use campaigns that are relevant to your target customers, announce them via Facebook and have the traffic directed to your website.

  • Present special offers or come up with competitions that your followers can benefit from and take them to your website to redeem the offer.

  • Write useful articles or provide great information on your blog (which is on your website) and use your Facebook/Twitter to promote them. Likewise, your blog could help promote your Facebook page because it automatically lets your followers know when there is a new post.

The social media architecture links the actions with the various platforms so use your email newsletters and website to promote your Facebook site and use your Facebook account to drive traffic to your website. Good quality content in multiple areas that link back to your site can also improve your search engine optimisation - use that to your advantage.

Remember to roll out each platform sequentially and make sure you have mastered one before moving on to the next one.

6. Set the actions

Specify your policy and have guidelines

Decide how regularly you are going to put up a post or a tweet and how you respond to any mentions - both good and bad. Honesty and transparency in posts goes a long way - this is the age of information and if your followers want to know the truth about something, they will. It's best for you to be honest and up front at all times. Your followers will appreciate it a lot more than some PR spin.

Find the best person for the job

Don't make the mistake of putting an intern or someone junior in charge of social media. It is a big responsibility and in the wrong hands it can lose you followers. At the same time don't choose your CEO or your technical directors just because they have a good name in the industry. Social media role should be given to someone that WANTS to do it. Zeald client Louisa (co-owner of Belly Beyond) recommends using your best communicators for this job. It's not about choosing the most technically savvy person but the person that is best at communicating your brand and the message across. There are options to outsource your social media needs but we strongly recommend having someone in your company doing it or hiring someone part time to do it. By all means get a consultant to do your strategy if you like but when it comes down to the regular communication, it should be someone that reflects the culture within your company.

Think up tactics

This is the fun bit. This is where you decide what kind of tactics you will use to communicate with your followers. Say you want to have a blog that will include a new article each week, one of your tactics will be to announce your blog posts via Facebook and Twitter weekly. You can then think of specials you can run around different times of the year depending on the kind of business you have, for example around Easter or Christmas you can offer a special discount or a promotion. Your tactics should look at what you can do to keep your customers interested as well as attract potential customers so it could be giving away free information, or a special offer just for anyone that follows you. You don't have to decide exactly what it is straight away but just decide that you will do something to engage your followers. Have a look at what others are doing to get ideas flowing.

Have a rough calendar in place

Once you have your tactics planned out, create a calendar - it doesn't have to be definite, even something rough to say that on this particular week you will do something new, how you would launch it, where you would direct traffic to and how you can measure the success.

7. Test, Measure, Tune

This is one of the key areas when it comes to social media. Always measure how your campaigns are doing and tune the next one accordingly. Check how you are doing with your objectives each month, as mentioned before, Facebook has a great feature where it will email you weekly with your stats so you know how many fans you have and how many comments you have had on each post. You will have to do this manually for Twitter and Digg. Remember, don't be afraid to try something completely new or push the boundaries. If you make a mistake, just move on to the next initiative.

Topics: Social Media

Why should you take the social media plunge?

Written by Hamish Braddick on June 21st, 2010.      0 comments

Besides the fact that social media offers you the chance to hear what your customers have to say about your company, studies show that there are direct business benefits to having an online community.

How can you benefit from social media?

1. Increase brand awareness

Due to the public nature of most social media platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter and the sheer number of people globally using these platforms - social media offers the quickest way to promote your company and your brand. It also allows you to interact with the public directly and respond to issues directly which is one of the greatest benefits of social media. You can hear what people are saying and respond so it is a discussion rather than one way communication.

2. Building trust and credibility

When done right, social media can help build the trust of your customers and followers. Having an open and honest conversation about what is going well for your business and what isn't, combined with your willingness to make changes will without a doubt build the trust of your customers. Using your expertise and sharing good articles and content will further build your credibility as a leader in your industry.

3. Increase traffic to your website

If you have an engaging online community presence, with campaigns that can add value to your customers or get them talking, they will be inclined to click through to your site. And like most forms of online marketing, this traffic can be measured so you can see the effectiveness of your campaigns.

4. Improved SEO ranking

Likewise, when your social media presence is consistently engaging, your followers are more likely to publish a link to your website on their site or blog if they like a particular campaign or an article. These kind of inbound links are recognised by Google and will help your website rank higher in natural search results. So when anyone on Twitter either retweets your article or someone on Digg publishes your article as something they like, your website's SEO will benefit from it.

5. Low cost marketing tool

Compared to any other form of marketing or advertising, social media is a low cost and a high return medium. But don't forget that in order to do it effectively, there is time involved - which is will in turn cost your business. However, it trumps spending thousands of dollars that is required in print and radio advertising!

6. Customer support

One of the great benefits of social media is being able to improve your customer support, especially because of its immediate nature. This means that you can instantly tell people if there is a problem of some kind that your customers need to know about and also respond to any queries quickly. A great example of this is the way Heathrow Airport handled the huge influx of calls and queries through their customer support lines during the eruption of the Icelandic volcano. They had support staff dedicated to Twitter and Facebook who would frequently update the status of the flights and also responded to any queries. This proved to be a win-win situation for both passengers, who got frequent updates, and Heathrow, who was able manage the chaos a bit better. On a smaller scale, Orcon Internet also uses social media to update clients on any outages or issues and answer any queries.

7. Improved sales

A social media marketing company called Syncapse surveyed 4,000 people who have joined the top 20 brands on Facebook page by 'liking' them and figured out exactly how valuable these fans are. The study ('The value of a Facebook fan: An Emperical Review') estimates that someone who has 'liked' a brand will spend an average of $71.84 more each year on their products or services compared to someone who has not 'liked' them on Facebook. Not to mention, every happy and engaged follower can also result in referrals.

A great Kiwi example of social media presence...

Zeald clients Louisa and Heidi started Belly Beyond in 2008 - a website that specialises in ergonomic baby carriers, nappy bags, maternity lingerie and a huge range of gifts and essentials for mums and babies. As part of establishing a great website and business, they turned to social media to improve their results further. Louisa says, "We are an online company and always saw social media as a way to communicate, market and listen to our customers. Once we started down the path of creating Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as blogging - we got the bug and there was simply no turning back!"

Belly Beyond Zeald Clients The results certainly speak for themselves - in Jan/Feb 2010 Belly Beyond averaged around 16,500 visits and 135,000 page views per month. Using campaigns that crossover Facebook, Twitter, Belly Beyond blog and the website, the traffic to their website increased 170% to around 30,000 visits per month and 230,000 page views!

After noticing how successful these campaigns were, in March Louisa and Heidi came up with an online Treasure Hunt promotion using social media and their website - this time round their website visits peaked at 34,000 visitors and had a massive 333,000 page views! The sales for the same period also went up by 180% so their social media presence is making a significant difference to their bottom line as well.

Belly Beyond's Facebook page has also become the second most effective tool in driving traffic to their website, second only to Google. Their blog features regularly in the third spot - which goes to show that using Facebook for targeted campaigns and the blog to provide good useful information has really helped bring in the results for Belly Beyond.

Louisa and Heidi have also launched their YouTube channel, Belly Beyond TV and are developing it further to draw traffic to their website using YouTube as a search engine.

Needless to say Louisa is a big supporter of social media for small to medium size businesses. "It’s a low cost way of getting your brand out there, perfect for small to medium businesses who have a strong identity and message. It is time consuming but we are an example that it can and does translate to traffic and to sales."

Make the most of social media now

Even with all the positive aspects of social media and all the great stories like Belly Beyond, the 2010 Business Monitor United States report shows that when it comes to small to medium size businesses, social media hasn't quite been utilised at its best. Only 24% of respondents from this study said that they've received sales leads from social media, and only 1% said that it was an actual factor for business growth.

Since this is an American study, it's safe to assume that New Zealand will be trailing by a year or so in terms of the results companies are producing using social media. Social media is something that is still relatively new and not every business is using it very well yet which is exactly why getting involved right now could give your business the edge.

It's up to you to make it happen for your business

When done right, social media can be a really valuable source to attract new customers and make sure that the customers you have right now stick around and recommend your services to others. A big part of this is taking part in the conversation and listening to what people are saying - ignoring this is lazy and will not help you with your sales.

It's also up to you to find the opportunities in the social media platform, information is there for the taking -  for example, a customer that tweets about a poor experience or a woman that is talking about how she is finding event organisation stressful - if you are not listening carefully, all these messages are missed opportunities. For example in the case of the woman that is stressed out, all you have to say is: "is there anyway I can help?" That goes a long way in building a great relationship. And who knows, your business might be actually able to help her too!

As a small business owner, it's your responsibility to use these bits of information available publicly to build relationships, improve your customer service and improve your products.

Your size is a great advantage

There  are a number of big brands that have adopted social media and done an amazing job of it like Starbucks for example. But their big size means that they cannot engage with every one that mentions them.

As a small business owner, you have the advantage of being able to respond to everyone that mentions you. Make sure you are always searching for your brand name on Twitter to see if anyone is saying anything about you.

So how do you get started?

Finding the best way to use social media for your company can seem like a daunting task - especially when you hear stories in the media about all these big companies doing big, amazing and creative things on Facebook and Twitter. But even the big guys sometimes fail to realise that the smallest of gestures can have a huge impact when it comes to social media.

Start simple

As a first step, Louisa (from Belly Beyond) recommends signing up to Twitter with your company's name as the username as soon as possible, so that way you don't miss out on that particular username when you do decide to get started.

From here you can start simple - spend a bit of time listening. You want to know what people are saying about your company, about your competitors and about your industry. Go where they are pointing to and listen to the conversations that are happening - this will also help you learn the social media language.

Research competitors

Find out what others in your industry are doing. Don't be discouraged thinking I'm a builder or an engineer so how can I use social media? The best thing to do is to see what others are doing and work from there. Giapo is a small gelato shop in Queen Street. There are a number of gelato shops around and there is nothing different about Giapo's product but the owner has set himself apart by a mile simply by using social media very effectively. His core philosophy is enabling conversation. The owner will do anything to get people talking to him and between themselves. So whatever your industry, there is a way - you just need to look outside the box.

Take the plunge

Don't spend too long listening - take the plunge. Start by acknowledging anyone that mentions you. Say someone has been in your restaurant or talks about your products - just a simple "thank you for dropping by" or a "how can we make your experience even better?" can go a long way in building great relationships and repeat purchases. Not to mention, you'd be gathering valuable information along the way, which would normally be very difficult to achieve.

Identify your strategy

The effectiveness of your social media presence comes down to your business - how fast it's growing, how committed you are and also what your overall goals and objectives are. This is something that should be identified very early on and identified as your 'social media strategy'. Your strategy ultimately determines the success of your social media presence. Read our blog post on how to come up with a great social media strategy for your business.

View more presentations from Zeald.
Topics: Social Media

Online networking through forums & blogs

Written by Hamish Braddick on June 12th, 2010.      0 comments

Create a keyword rich signature to include at the bottom of your post whenever you discuss topics in an online forum.  Determine relevant forums and blogs to link to your website and contribute to the discussions that are occurring in these places.  Don't forget to include your signature whenever you post. 

Take care to spend some time in the forum getting to know the people, and the etiquette. Do not use forums and blogs to "advertise" your business or your products. This will be viewed as spam and you could find that the exercise has a negative eff

Finding relevant, quality forums and blogs

To discover good forums and blogs, search for relevant and quality forums or blog sites using Google.  You can use a search string similar to the following -'forum:[keyword describing my website theme]' You will need to choose a very generic keyword. For example a website selling meat to a New Zealand market could try the following searches to find relevant forums. “New Zealand” “Meat” “Butcher” “Recipes”

Hint. Keep track of your list of relevant forums and blogs in a spreadsheet and constantly add to it. If you haven't already, don't forget to sign up for Google Alerts.  Google will then notify you whenever they find a new link to your website.


About Zeald

Zeald was formed in 2001 by three young guys from the small New Zealand town of Mangawhai Heads. Now, Zeald is the largest SME website design and digital transformation agency in New Zealand and has clients throughout both New Zealand and Australia. This is the Zeald story …

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