HowNow got the pleasure and the joy of being able to interview Robert Caruso. He has been recognised on the Forbes top 40 list of social media marketers. He is an incredibly successful digital marketer and was named the 57th top digital marketer in 2016.
Robert is a partner at Engage and helps small and medium sized businesses deliver effective digital marketing and make a lasting impression as well as achieving fantastic results online. If you want to hear some of his great advice for your business and discover more about his journey, then keep reading!
So, tell us a bit about you and what you do?
We design and execute integrated digital marketing programs for clients around the world. We take a combined approach for our clients marketing online to ensure that they have a presence everywhere that they need to be, consistently developed and distributed content and are found by their target audience.
How did your journey start in becoming a successful a social media and digital marketing advisor?
Well, that’s an interesting question because I wouldn’t call what we do being advisors. What I mean is that we don’t advise clients on what and how they need to do their marketing; we professionally do their marketing for them. Along with that of course we advise on connected business elements that impact how well the marketing will integrate into their business practices though.
So changing the question just a bit, we became successful managing clients complete online presence by doing it and doing it a lot. Over decades of building effective digital strategies for various B2B and B2C industries and executing them, you tend to get good at it. Because our approach focuses on research and a lot of it, we get to the root questions and answers that our clients customers have and need. Knowing that data can make everything you do online much more effective.
What was one of the biggest challenges you faced on your journey and how did you overcome it?
The one word answer is “change”. Digital marketing is constantly changing and evolving. So, just as we do a lot of research for our clients, we are constantly researching and learning to keep up with the continual changes that affect the various components, platforms and tactics that we deploy.
To be effective in integrated digital marketing you have stay on top of the latest trends and changes. That requires a considerable amount of reading and learning. What worked last week may not work tomorrow, so you need to know why. That can be an incredible struggle at times.
What advice would you give to a small business wanting to grow its social media presence and engagement on twitter?
My advice would be; “know what you are doing and why you are doing it”. If you don’t, you’re going to be on a treadmill and getting nowhere fast. Most businesses didn’t start because they wanted to become experts at social media or digital marketing. They started because they have a passion for something and wanted to stop working for someone else in order to pursue it.
So, if you are going to be successful with marketing, you either have to learn to be a professional at every component of it, or you are going to have to hire professionals to execute it for you. There’s no in between anymore.
What 3 things would you say are important for a digital marketing strategy?
- Know the problem you solve for your customer, and that is truly a big enough problem.
- Know exactly WHO your target customer is in detail.
- Know what drives that target customer online.
Is there any key metrics that companies should be measuring on twitter?
Twitter is one tiny piece of a huge 3,000 piece puzzle. So this question is different for every single business, depending on their target audience, how long they’ve been on Twitter, how targeted their following is and many other factors. There is no one size fits all for everyone on Twitter, search or any other part of digital marketing component. You can’t cookie cutter digital marketing and be successful.
But if you had to pick one single metric, focus on driving action. Things like clicks to your content, landing pages and website.
What is the most common mistake small businesses make when marketing to B2B?
Messaging. If your message isn’t clear and it doesn’t resonate with the issues and needs of your target audience, everything else you do will struggle.
If you want to follow more fantastic advice and inspiration from Robert then follow these channels:
We have been focusing on Mental Health this week. To continue that theme we have teamed up with nutritionist Ali Prentice from NutriknowHow, who has created a great mood food recipe. Ali is a nutritionist and wellness consultant based in London with expertise in nutrition, healthy cooking, coaching and behaviour change. We asked Ali if she could create a recipe that would be brain food for busy entrepreneurs on the go. Here is the fantastic recipe she came up with:
Mood Food: No Bake Energy Power Bites
Makes about 24
These portable little spheres are loaded with slow burn goodness and are easy to grab for breakfast, as a snack – or to round off a light lunch or dinner.
They are designed to deliver an intense nutrient punch – including a host of vitamins, minerals and other plant-based chemicals to support energy levels, mood and mental wellbeing.
- 100g cashews soaked for a least an hour in cold water and drained
- 100g plain porridge oats
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, or smooth peanut butter
- 75g dates
- 50g dried cranberries
- 2 tbsp cocoa, or raw cacao powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Coating – choose from:
- 20g pistachio nuts
- 1 tbsp cocoa, or raw cacao powder
- 1 tbsp grated (desiccated) coconut
- Milled seed mix (such as Linwoods) – or make your own from linseeds, sunflower, chia and pumpkin seeds – plus add goji berries for some colour!
- If possible, soak the cashews for an hour or even overnight in water to soften. Drain cashews before use.
- Blitz the oats in a coffee grinder or food processor until they resemble coarse flour. Set aside.
- Melt the coconut oil very gently. Whizz the oil (or peanut butter) with the cashews, dates, dried cranberries and vanilla extract in a food processor until they form a paste.
- Add in the oat flour, cocoa/cacao, cinnamon and salt and process until it forms a cohesive mass.
- Manually roll the mixture into balls with clean hands. If the mixture sticks to your fingers, moisten your hands lightly.
- Sprinkle your choice of coating on a plate and roll the balls around the plate to coat evenly.
- Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge – where they should last for about a week, or one month in the freezer – if you can resist them!
Definitely give these mood food bites a go this evening or this weekend! Have you thought about consulting a nutritionist before? You can email Ali at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on her services or visit her website.
If you want more amazing inspiration then follow Ali on the channels below:
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. We want to show you what employers can do to help improve the mental health of people in your work environment. Looking at research from both the Mental Health Foundation and other sources as well as personal experiences. The aim of this is to bring you some ideas to implement in your work place to support staff with existing mental health issues. As well as helping create a positive environment for discussing and addressing general mental health. It’s fantastic there has been so much focus on mental health in the last couple of years from the likes of the royal family discussing their own issues. Key figures in the spotlight have also draw attention to the issue. Thankfully, there has also been much attention brought to the workplace and how we can help those struggling with mental health issues.
How can Workplace stress affect mental Health?
We all get stressed, infact I was stressed about writing this article and making sure I conveyed the messages correctly. Stress affects everyone, it affects people in different ways. There can be many various factors that bring on stress in our life. Mental Health Foundation “Stress is are body’s response to pressures from a situation or life event”. Work related stress can be the cause for some mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression and while it may not always cause this, it can affect many individuals short and long term. Half a million people are living in the UK experience work related stress.
Stress can have many effects on the body . A change in eating habits to struggle sleeping are just some physical effects. We know this is an issue and wrote an article on how to reduce stress and get a better nights sleep.
So what can employers do to help? Below are 3 steps they can take.
1. Manage the work environment out of office hours
38% of people admit feeling stressed as a result of work. Over 50% of people saying that they take calls and check emails out of working hours. This results out of pressures and expectations from a high pressured work environment. Employers should establish a culture of where employees are not expected to work out of office hours. The best practice for this, is for management teams to demonstrate by example. Such as : stop sending emails at 11pm and on Sunday evenings.
UK employees work an average of 7.7 hours of unpaid overtime each week. Although management might not explicitly say they want staff to work weekends and evenings, there is often a feeling by employees that they are expected too. In order to get more productive happier staff, management needs to take action and set an example of working culture.
2. Facilitate the time for exercise or mindfulness sessions
It’s good to get away from the desk. Research has shown that leading a healthy lifestyle through diet, exercise and mental care and lead to overall happier and healthier person. Facilitate the time in the week for staff to do exercise or attend mindfulness sessions. Maybe create a social sport team the employees can participate in such as netball, softball and football. Give your staff discounts to the gym and give the ability to arrive 20 mins later or leave 20 minutes early if they are going to attend the gym before or after work.
This will encourage participation and won’t make staff guilty for leaving bang on time. Or if exercise is not a popular option why don’t you have mindfulness sessions you run monthly, where you hire someone externally to come in have sessions with staff. Or encourage lunchtimes walks – maybe a mindful lunchtime walk every other week. You could also have a staff subscription to Headspace.
3. Remove the barrier of Mental Health Communication
Talking about how you are struggling and admitting the difficulties you are facing at work or personally is one of the biggest challenges. People fear being judged and being seen by peers and managers as unable to cope. Managers need to remove the barrier of communication for talking about these issues. They need to have regular catch ups with staff to check in. Find out how they are coping with the work and any other concerns. The space for this talk needs to be a relaxing environment away from the hustle of desks.
In order to help managers facilitate these conversations, HR departments should train staff on how to have these conversations and perhaps teach them about the look out signs for mental health issues or high levels of stress. Managers should have a set of resources they can give to staff about managing stress, getting more sleep and eating habits that staff can have access too if they need, as a form of self help.
Mental Health issues need to be understood more by workplaces and better supported, these steps above are not all the things you should be doing, but some ideas to get you on the road to creating a more supportive environment for your staff.
Have you thought about teaching online but have dismissed the idea because you have no experience in teaching? That’s OK! If you have something you are knowledgeable in and want to teach you shouldn’t be limited by lack of experience. Also you don’t have to have a degree in something to be able to teach online. A degree helps to verify your knowledge, but as long as someone has left with more value in a subject matter after learning from you than before they have arrived, then you can teach. So how do you go about it? ‘Help!’ you’re probably thinking as the idea of creating an online course overwhelms you. Fear not! We will run through what to do.
I have no personal experience of teaching online so I can sympathies with your worry. However, I am here to tell you it is possible and it can be done.
Planning the Course
First of all, decide what you want to teach. Lets use an example of someone who is an expert in social media and growing businesses on these platforms. Maybe this person has become an expert through their own discovery and growth on their own social channels. Once you know what to teach, break down what you want the goal of your course to be. So, with our current example maybe the goal of the first course is to understand what different social channels do and how to set up your businesses on the right one.
Planning the Lessons
Great! Look we have already made progress. We have a course goal and possibly a name. The next bit is then breaking down that goal into bit sized lessons. The first lesson might be an introduction to social media in general and what it is and why people might use it. The next few lessons then might involve understanding what each social media channel does and how to set up your company page on it, if it is appropriate. As I am sure you will agree, or maybe you won’t if social media is not your forte that not every social channel is right for a business. This is really valuable information to give your learners as it could allow them to make educated decisions regarding the social media strategy for their business. As we are using social media as an example I have broken down the possible different lessons below.
Example Course to teach online
Course Name : Introduction to Social Media channels and how businesses can use them ( you might want a snappier title then mine)
- What is social media and why do businesses and consumers use it
- What is Twitter and how can a business use it.
- What is Facebook and how can a business use it
- What is Instagram and how can a business use it
- What is Youtube and how can a business use it
- What channels should you use?
And so on. You get the point. Now, this of course in this example is an introduction course into social media and how to set up a business on it. Therefore, you will not be expected to go into depth about the many million different things you can do on each platform and how to use them. There are whole courses and books dedicated to just one channel, so don’t think you need to answer every single question ever on these topics. That’s why it’s important to outline clearly what the goal of the course and lesson is.
Planning the content for the lessons
You’re next question is what do you put in each lesson and how to actually teach it? Did I guess right? So, yes next we will want to populate these lessons with beautiful content and VARIOUS content types. It is most important! and I mean very important that you have different types of content in your lesson/course in order to keep the course engaging.
There are many advantages to video based learning which we have looked into here before. So think about including some video’s in your courses, this can be a great way to give you more experience as you practice teaching when you record a prerecorded video for your course. In the social media example we are using you could have a recorded video demonstrating how to set up your business profile with accompanying text in the lesson.
Try a live class?
Then for lesson 6, you could have a live class! Do it! I know it sounds a bit intimidating but I am sure you will find the experience very rewarding for yourself and your learners. Lesson 6 really lends it’s self to a live class as you can have a group of people with likely different businesses discuss with you their experiences with social. This allows you to tailor this last lesson to a Q&A style and run through various examples of businesses using different social platforms. A live class brings a stronger relationship with your learners because the process is more interactive. You may even find them being advocates for your next course!
Are you feeling a little more confident? Hopefully you are! We have run through how to structure a course and ways to teach online. If you’re still worried about teaching online with no experience, remember that, while you may not have experience in teaching you are an expert in the field you are about to teach. You know more than you’re learners. So any value you provide to them in whatever format will most certainty benefit them. Then after your first course you can go on excited and enthusiastic for teaching your next one!
So what is GDPR?
How does it affect us at HowNow?
So what are we doing to be GDPR compliant?
- As a result of the review, we have assigned a team to implement the changes to ensure that we are fully compliant
- We have contacted all of our third party software providers to ensure that they are working towards compliance or are fully compliant already
- We have appointed a Data Protection Officer, who you can contact at email@example.com
- We reviewed the data processing activities involved in our HowNow schools
- Based on this review, we are implementing changes that will help our clients be GDPR compliant
How does it affect you?
What do you need to do?
- Review all of your data processing activities and identify potential areas of non-compliance using the ICO’s guidleines
- Implement the changes based on your review
- Review existing Privacy Policies and T&Cs
- Contact any other third party providers you use to ensure that they are GDPR compliant
If you’re an entrepreneur, side hustler or someone thinking of starting a business then I am sure you will be keeping an eye on those pennies. Those pennies, pounds, and notes will all aid you in your ventures of getting your business off the ground. So while you’re getting started what are some easy ways you can save money? From the suggestions below you could put the money you would of spent away as an extra source of funding for your business.
Make a packed Lunch
Now this is super easy and no I am not talking about taking a little Tupperware in with square jam sandwiches and carrot sticks and a chocolate bar. I mean you could do this if you wanted too- I’m not judging. Packed lunch doesn’t have to involve all the effort you think it does – it could be leftovers that can be warmed up in the microwave at work. The only work this involves is maybe cooking larger portions at dinner. Equally you could easily rustle up a salad or tasty sandwich the night before and throw in some fruit and maybe a 3pm treat in there. I’m guessing the average lunch cost is about £4.50 that’s a weekly saving of £22.50
Don’t buy a coffee everyday
Simple but true – many people will buy a coffee at least once a day some maybe 3 times! I believe a lot of people buy a morning coffee if they are going to buy one at an average cost of £2.50. Which if you can imagine if at least one coffee is brought everyday that acquits to £12.50 a week. So save this money buy making a better quality coffee at home and taking it in a portable cup such as the keep cups! They’re so cute- check them out. If you most drink coffee out- then purchase a reusable cup as many coffee chains are now offering discount of as much as 50p for bringing a reusable cup. By Cutting back on buying coffee out or using there cups you will not only start to see savings but you will do the environment a whole host of good as we tackle plastic pollution. ( there is hidden plastic in coffee cups which makes them very hard to be fully recyclable).
Be clever with your nights out
Now you’re noticing a trend aren’t you? Its all about purchases and behavior patterns. So Thursday or Friday drinks might be a regular fun night out for you with work. But it can cost you a lot, weekly drinking and nights out are not just expensive but they are bad for your health with all the extra calories and the other effects of alcohol. Now I am not saying you should or shouldn’t drink but if you want to save money make sure you drink smart. Maybe try and find the best local happy hours and be the driving force in getting your work colleagues and friends to drink there. Alternatively you can still go out with everyone, just have more soft drinks and you will see the cash remain in your pocket longer. The average weekly spending on alcoholic drinks in 2015/16 was £7.80.
How much do you spend? Do a little Maths and see if cutting back on a couple of drinks could amount up to a nice saving sum for you.
Save money on experiences and days out
We all love a day out so you don’t need to stop discovering the world and enjoying life. But be smart about it to have the greatest experience with the greatest savings. Have you used sites like Groupon and Wowcher? They are great for grabbing experiences with a bargain. I have used them many times myself. Rather than picking a nice restaurant for your friends birthday that will cost you an arm and a leg. Check out their restaurant deals where you may only be paying half an arm. Bargains to be had!
Content Marketing and advertising are big topics at the moment. I come from a commercial advertising background but I now work much more in a content marketing relm, so the journey of learning the difference has been very important for me. Some people hate commercial advertising and love content marketing and visa versa. I personally see them as having different purposes – sometimes one suits your business more than the other. We’ve included some examples from our own work so you can see.
So, what is Content Marketing?
The way I like to see it is when you produce content that provides value. Think – blog posts, interviews and anything else your audience might be interested in. The key is that you are usually providing them some value and you are not explicitly promoting your product or service. The aim is to get people interested in your product or service in an indirect way. So, if you’re sharing really useful information or things that are really helpful then people might come to your website and check out your product or service.
Advertising is what then?
Advertising is where you are explicitly promoting your product or service. For example, think about all perfume adverts promoting their expensive perfume, or the car ads where you are shown all the features of the car.
Advertising will use the more traditional routes such as: TV, Radio, Billboard ( also referred to Out of Home or OOH for short), Direct mail and email. You can also see paid brand advertising online in the form of web banners and promoted posts on social media. Content marketing is primary online and might be seen more on social media and blogs.
Content Marketing Vs Commercial Advertising?
You might be wondering when content marketing should be used and when commercial advertising should be used? Well, in my opinion both are useful and can be used at the same time. Advertising can be great for trying to raise brand awareness and to make sure you are reaching the right audience as you can more precisely target your consumers.
As Content Marketing on the other hand can be great for building up a strong relationship with your consumers. Purely because you offer them more value and are far less invasive with your product or service messages.
I believe content marketing should be done at all times to build up long lasting customer relationships. Content marketing is essentially the personality of your brand. It’s like a friend that is dishing out super handy advice to you, without becoming preachy. Commercial Advertising should be used to get your product to consumers mind in raising brand awareness or informing people of a new product or service. So use content marketing more than you use advertising is the way I look at it.
So, there you go – that’s the difference. Fairly simple way to remember is just think advertising means promote product and services and content marketing is producing useful content.
Let me know if you have anything really interesting to add to this as it’s an evolving discussion and sometimes lines can feel blurred.
Teaching online is a fantastic way to reach people from far and wide. It allows a great flexibility for the teacher to teach when convenient and for the learner to be able to fit in the course around their busy lives. Teaching online may be new to some of you or you may be sceptical about how to make sure it’s engaging for your audience and they actually leave the course having learnt something. So here are our 3 tips to creating engaging Online Courses.
1. Vary your content types
So as you might recall those teachers at school that really got you to learn used multiple content in their lessons. Having the ability, to listen, read, watch and interact are great for mixing up the learning styles in your Online Courses, giving something everyone can benefit from. You can be sure to keep your learners on their toes by varying your content type, as they use different senses to interact with the content. HowNow offers you the ability to have multiple content per lesson so you can be sure to offer : Audio, video, live classes, broadcast, text, quizzes, images, assessments.
2. Encourage Discussion
Discussions are a great way to interact with your learners and for your learners to interact with each other. Having a Discussion forum will create the environment of a real life classroom with the ability for people to ask questions, share opinions and experiences. You can enable this feature when creating Online Courses with HowNow.
3. Reward your learners
We all like to feel like there is something we are working towards. We might not be at school anymore but the feeling of having achieved something makes us feel accomplished and also motivates us to continue on our learning journey. Reward your learners with badges and certificates when they have completed courses ( this of course is available with HowNow). You don’t have to wait till the end of your Online Courses to reward your learners, you co do this along the way for each unit they complete. Or offer them something different- maybe special extra content or resources for making the progress they have in your course.
We were excited when we got the opportunity to interview Mallika Malhotra who is a brand photographer at MikiFoto + Co. Mallika is passionate about photography and wants to ensure brand’s are doing all they can to create a visual strategy that will really represent their brand to consumers. Mallika gives us some great advice for visual strategy and lets us know her journey as an entrepreneur.
So, tell us a bit about you and what you do?
I help women entrepreneurs move from invisible to impact through storytelling, branding, and photography. I am passionate about empowering women to finally be the face of their brand and share their message with confidence. I also published a book called, The Brand Photography Playbook: The Insider’s Guide to Planning Your Photo Shoot and Building a Stand-Out Brand. It’s a comprehensive guide for entrepreneurs, answering all their questions about brand photography and walking you through how to plan a successful photo shoot.
When and what made you decide to become a brand photographer?
I have been in the photography business for 10 years but began specializing in brand photography 3 years ago. I love working with fellow women entrepreneurs and learning about their business challenges. I started doing headshots at first but learned quickly that my clients needed more storytelling images to stand out and create real depth to their brands.
Being an entrepreneur is hard but rewarding, what is the biggest challenge you faced and the biggest reward you have gained?
I am a mompreneur (I have three sons aged 15, 13 and 8) so balancing a business, family and home is very challenging. There never feels like there is enough time to do everything. And when you do one part really well, something else falls through the cracks. So if my biz is booming, it seems like my family is eating a lot of take out :(The biggest reward of being an entrepreneur is the flexibility and freedom to fulfill my passion. I love that I can create a business on my own terms and grow it at the pace that fits my lifestyle.
Why is a visual strategy important to the success of a brand?
Visual storytelling has become a powerful tool in connecting with our audience and communicating our message. In order for our brands to stand out in today’s noisy marketplace, we need a collection of strong, storytelling photos in our marketing. From websites to email to social media, we need brand photos that tell our story and dive deeper into the many layers of our business. Visuals that create emotion, trust, connection and interest.
What are some crucial mistakes you see brands making in their brand photography and how can they rectify them?
1) A headshot isn’t enough to tell your brand story. Sure, everyone needs a good professional headshot but it won’t communicate the depth of your brand. You need to be strategic and share the different layers of your business. Your audience needs to have a full picture of what you do and who you are. This visual storytelling will not only make your brand more memorable but can also inspire action.
2) Do the strategic work before your brand photo shoot. Before you take a single pic, you need to get clear on your story, your message, your target and your positioning. This information is critical in the visual strategy of your photo shoot. Brand photos have a distinct purpose and intention for your business. Don’t just show up to shoot but instead take the time to review your product suite, your marketing efforts and future goals.
What are three golden rules for a brand visual strategy that you would advise to your clients?
1) Quality does matter. The photos you choose to represent yourself and your business are making a huge impression on your audience. Are you a professional or an amateur? Are you trustworthy? Do you look like someone worth hiring? If you are constantly posting selfies or creatively cropped photos or poorly lit DIY pics, you may be sharing the wrong message. The more professional your photos, the more you will be seen as an authority or expert.
2) It’s not just about pretty pictures. Brand photography is so much more than posting glamour shots. It’s about creating depth in your brand and building connection and a relationship with your audience. It’s about storytelling. It’s about sharing information. It’s about differentiating yourself. The goal of these images is to help your viewer visualize your message, your process, your products and services more clearly.
3) Know your story and share it. Don’t hide behind your logo, products, services, clients and portfolios. Get clear on your message and put yourself into your marketing. When you show up in your visuals, you become the connecting point to your business. People do business with people so it’s time to show up and be the face of your brand. Customers want to see the heart of the brand (you!) and learn about your mission, your movement, your manifesto.
I see you ran a capture your brand challenge, will you be running any more of these?
I am running a Capture Your Brand photo challenge right now and just started a free Facebook group called Brand Confidential. If there is interest, I will definitely plan more of these photo challenges.