Untangling the Web for Marketing Communications

You’d think that by now we would all know that any business in New Zealand has realised that it needs have an online presence. We carried out some research with Nielsen last year on behalf of Business Mentors New Zealand, and this confirmed that the internet is the key source of information for the `very interested’ segment of the market. That is those people already predisposed to purchase.

Yet according to MYOB at the launch of their new initiative to provide a free website building service and their research reveals that only 32 per cent of New Zealand businesses even have a website.

I’m assuming that you are up to speed with this and that you do have a website. If you haven’t, stop reading this and go immediately to

and come back once you have got it sorted out.

The internet is your shop front. Everything we do on behalf of our PR clients is designed to raise the searchability of their business and its products or services online. So we are talking not just about making sure they come up on the first page of a Google search; we are talking about social media. There is a whole host of other online content that needs to point to our clients’ websites and improving the content, effectiveness and measurability of that is what I want to cover in this article.

So first the good news.  According to analysts, this is a great time to be in social media. It has got simpler believe it or not. In the last couple of years the number of competing social networks has dwindled, making it easier to pick where you should focus your efforts.

At the top, number one among the social media networks is Facebook. No surprise there, given the amount of publicity it has generated recently. With over 850 million users, three out of every four social networking minutes worldwide in 2011 were spent on Facebook.

At number two is YouTube, with 800 million visitors a month, three billion videos viewed every day and eight years’ worth of video uploaded every 24 hours.

In at number three is Twitter, with 300 million users. During the 2012 US Super Bowl the current record of 12,000 Tweets per second was set.

And number four is LinkedIn, with 150 million users, including executives for all the Fortune 500 companies.

What we’ve seen as the number of competing networks has consolidated is that social media has become a mainstream activity, no longer the domain of tech-savvy teens.

But business continues to lag behind in adapting to this changing world. A recent business survey in the US found that 14 per cent of companies were doing nothing with social media, 23 per cent had taken the first steps, 20 per cent were piloting social media communications, 27 per cent were in the process of integrating social media with the rest of their marketing communications and only 16 per cent had fully embraced it as part of the marketing mix.

In the meanwhile, new social networks are creating ever more exciting ways to reach and engage your potential audiences. Witness Pinterest, the online scrap-book board and new mobile networks.

So, for most of our clients we ensure they have a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, maybe some YouTube and a profile on LinkedIn all pointing back to our webpage, right?

Well, maybe. Here’s the bad news. Now is a very difficult time to be in social media. The downside of social media’s popularity is that because everyone and his dog are doing it, businesses have a harder time getting noticed. You’re constantly competing for your potential customer’s attention against their friends, well-funded brands, automated apps (news, games, music) and so on.

Not only that but the rules keep changing. Facebook for example has made some changes that dramatically reduce the visibility of organisations. A study by the blog Allfacebook.com found that Facebook page content is now seen by only 17 per cent of fans. So no wonder General Motors pulled its Facebook advertising claiming that it didn’t sell cars.

In fact, Twitter and YouTube have also launched dramatic redesigns in the past year. Twitter has just cut the automatic posting of Tweets to LinkedIn, which some of us found quite useful. Each of these changes mean that social media professionals have to re-evaluate their approach to the online media and how we manage content.

And make no mistake, content is king. Get it right and your story will sing. Get it wrong and at best you will be tolerated and at worst the wrath of the gods will descend upon you – you will be ignored.

So let’s take a step by step approach to facing this new reality.

First off, Step 1, face up to the fact that social media is challenging and requires focus and resources. It’s not a nice to have. It is vital. You must invest.

Step 2, have a strategy and a plan. These are different things.

A strategy gives you a consistent vision, buy-in from everyone in the business, systems and processes, accountability, room for growth and interpretation.

A plan gives you content (relevant to your strategy and your business objectives), a detailed schedule of outbound messages, realistic goals and benchmarks, opportunities to optimise and improve and peace of mind.

Now I know, most businesspeople I meet either through mentoring or as clients, like most people, have no plan for what they’re going to post in social media. You have to have decent content and decent content begins with brainstorming.

You need other people, key players but not too many. Look at what content you already have. You can use what you have on your website as a starter. But look at your particular audiences and what they care about. Does that change seasonally? What are other potential sources of ongoing content? How will you engage your audience instead of just talking at them?

You may find it useful to have two kinds of content plan. A global view for the whole year and a daily view with pre-written content, or at least topics for each month. But remember it is always a work in progress. Social media content planning requires constant evolution.

Ongoing changes in software, visitor behaviour and new trends can be frustrating or they can be new opportunities. Curating successful content isn’t about bells and whistles, it’s about knowing your audience and adapting to their feedback.

Ask yourself some questions:
1)            Does what I am saying enhance my business offer?
2)            Is it evidence based and a consensus view?
3)            Why do people visit my web site/social media?
4)            Where did they come from?
5)            How much do they know about me?
6)            When are they most active?
7)            What motivates them to engage with me?

And remember visibility comes at a premium on line. You need to step up your pace and don’t be shy. Last year a survey asked how much social media is too much? The results are surprising.  The respondents said more than 36 Twitter posts a day or 21  Facebook  entries, 16 on Google+ or 14 on LinkedIn 14.  They all sound a lot to me too. We usually limit ourselves to a couple per client each day, but even so you’ve got some scope before you bore the audience.

You need to find the balance that works for you and that involves being creative and experimenting as well as measuring what you do. But it also means, some time, some effort and yes some money too.

And yes, if you call me, we can do it with you, for you.

Peter Boyes is the managing director of Boyes PR. He manages the online strategies and curates content for a number of client organisations.

Any queries to peter@boyespr.co.nz

Mentoring for NZ start-up businesses

Start-up business owners will receive free mentoring and advice from some of New Zealand’s brightest business leaders, thanks to a new partnership between BNZ and Business Mentors New Zealand.

The initiative aims to prime Kiwi start-ups for growth, and offers a specially designed package with the tools they need for the critical make-or-break years.

BNZ Director, Retail, Andy Symons says this newest offering caters to the specialist needs of New Zealand start-ups.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the New Zealand business landscape, with 90% of all New Zealand enterprises having five or fewer employees. That’s why they need all the help they can get in their formative years, to help drive the country’s financial future prosperity.”

Along with free access to a business mentor for up to two years, BNZ’s new offer for start-ups includes
       a 24 month fee waiver on MyMoney for Business
       Global Plus Business card at 2.99% for 12 months on balance transfers and purchases,
       free use of Xero for three months
       a Telco package from Telstra which caters to small businesses needs at $75 a month,
       new business plan diagnostic tools for starting and growing a business.

International studies of business mentoring programmes found a number of benefits for small and medium sized enterprises directly attributable to the scheme, including increased sales turnover of 3.3 per cent, increased after-tax profits of 17.9 per cent and increased employment of 6.1 per cent.

Business Mentors New Zealand CEO Ray Schofield says, “We now have 1,800 independent volunteer business mentors who provide their skill, knowledge and experience for the benefit of SME clients. They are dedicated to supporting the implementation of knowledge and solutions that meet their particular client’s circumstances. They remain independent and objective, focus on growth opportunities and export, build their clients’ business capabilities, help generate wealth and employment as well as support businesses in crisis and recovery.”

Mr Symons says this new offer adds to the already strong proposition for small business that saw BNZ awarded Canstar Cannex best small business bank in 2011.

Last year the bank extended its TotalMoney product to businesses, which has saved New Zealanders more than $110million since its launch five years ago. It provides complimentary access to the small business Edge centre located in the Auckland CBD, and has seven-days-a-week access to specialist small business bankers, who are also available via video conference.  

Business Mentors NZ gains on average 250 new clients every month, with another 1,500 clients continuing to work with a mentor each year, having assisted over 60,000 businesses since 1991.

A small business is classified as usually having fewer than five employees, and less than $1million turnover per annum. More than 3,700 start ups are launched in New Zealand each month.


Chiropractic care for older people may reduce deaths and injuries from falls according to researchers taking part in a study by Auckland University and the Chiropractic Research Centre (CRC) at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic on the neurophysiological effects of chiropractic on the brain.

According to chiropractor, PhD candidate and principal investigator of the study Dr Kelly Holt, falls often occur due to a decline in nervous system function with advancing age. This can lead to a loss of balance, or poor control of the limbs, which dramatically increases the risk of falling.

Dr Holt says: `Already it is estimated that in New Zealand slips, trips and falls cost almost $300 million per year in treatment and rehabilitation costs and as the population ages this will likely get worse.’ He says that ‘falls result in approximately 450 deaths per year in New Zealand and for older adults in particular, a fall can lead to a downward spiral that involves a loss of confidence, a cessation of day to day activities and eventually increased frailty and even death.’

There is no doubt that falls are a major health concern for older adults. They are a significant cause of death, injury and loss of quality of life. In people over the age of 65, falls account for over 80% of injury related hospital admissions and they are the leading cause of unintentional injury related death in older adults in New Zealand.

Dr Holt explains: `In the past ten years researchers at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic have objectively demonstrated that chiropractic adjustments can change aspects of nervous system function including the way the brain controls muscles, responds to sensory stimuli and controls limb function which are all important when it comes to preventing falls.’

Earlier this year Dr Holt published a review of The Effects of Manual Therapy on Balance and Falls in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics[1]. This study found that although a number of studies had found statistical links between manual therapies and an improvement in balance there was a need for more research to better understand the clinical implications.

He says: `This latest New Zealand study will investigate the relationship between chiropractic care and components of the nervous system important for maintaining balance and preventing falls in older adults. To study this relationship the researchers will follow and assess two groups of older participants at regular intervals over a 12 week period. One group will be under regular chiropractic care for 12 weeks and the other group will receive no chiropractic care during the study but will be offered the programme at the completion of the study. Besides tracking changes in nervous system function the study will also monitor the participant’s quality of life.’

Dr Heidi Haavik, the Director of Research at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic adds: `We have been looking at the effects of chiropractic on the function of the nervous system for the last decade. This latest collaboration between the College and the University of Auckland is part of Dr Holt’s PhD research for which he is receiving a Senior Health Research Doctoral Scholarship, one of only three awarded by the University each year.’

`We hope that by better understanding the impact of chiropractic care on this group of patients we may be able to improve the way we care for older people and reduce their risk of falling.’
 For further information on the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association visit www.chiropractic.org.nz

Further Information:

Dr Kelly Holt, Chiropractor 027 270 1397 or kelly.holt@nzchiro.co.nz

Peter Boyes 027 554 0500 or peter@boyespr.co.nz

[1] Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics March/April 2012, Holt et al
Manual Therapy, Falls and Balance