Are we digital enough?

DIGITAL MARKETING: The offices of Motionlab, on Citygate, Longridge Road, Preston
DIGITAL MARKETING: The offices of Motionlab, on Citygate, Longridge Road, Preston
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A new report says that companies are not making sufficient use of digital technology and might be missing out. DAVID NOWELL investigates.

Businesses across the North West could be jeopardising their future growth prospects because they do not see the benefits of digital technology and are not doing enough to develop their digital skills, according to a new study

As part of its commitment as a founder partner of Go ON UK , Lloyds Bank has designed the first UK Business Digital Index.

The Index tracks the use of digital technology among businesses and charities, including their use of social media; online sales; adoption of online security measures; use of digital advertising; and level of basic online skills based on consumer surveys and analysis.

According to the findings, only half of businesses and charities in the North West have a website, and just under a fifth do not use or have access to the internet.

Even amongst organisations with a website, most are not reaching their full potential.

We asked Scott Winstanley of Preston-based digital marketing company Motionlab a few questions:

How useful is social media as a marketing tool?

Social Media can be an extremely powerful tool when used for the correct means. Critics will tell you that the ROI (return on investment) is hard to measure and that as a lead generation tool it will perform more poorly than, say, PPC or SEO.

What social media is great for is creating a relationship with your market/audience and for creating brand loyalty/awareness.

Many customers now take to social channels for customer service purposes so ignoring social media is like ignoring a ringing phone in this respect.

Traditional marketing always sought blanket coverage to pass on communications, whereas social is a targeted soap box, and what’s more, its free, just be careful what you shout about.

What is the best tool (Facebook, Twitter, linkedin, etc) or all of them?

There is no straight answer to this question, it can be entirely dependent on the company. The best tool for any given company is the one that’s most widely adopted by their target market. That being said, a social strategy should take into account a variety of platforms and strategise accordingly for each as they’re all powerful in their own ways.

What are the tricks of the trade?

There really aren’t too many ‘tricks’ as such, a good social media account is honest, friendly, relevant and entertaining. The only real trick is to share valuable, relevant content with your audience that they will want to share without persuasion. Also, the odd competition or give-away doesn’t hurt.

How often do you have to post/tweet etc?

This can vary depending on the account. It’s definitely beneficial to post daily (at least once) but companies must take care to not appear as a spam filled hindrance to their audience.

The real rule of thumb here is to not post for the sake of posting. Rather than panic and post something because you feel you need to, it’s more important to keep the content consistent and engaging.

How does it fit in with other marketing techniques?

A good social strategy should always seek to tie in with external campaigns to keep communications consistent. Social media can also have a positive impact on a website’s SEO, particularly valuable for sites that rely on e-commerce.

Colin Ainscough, digital manager at the Lancashire Evening Post, said: “Social media has allowed all businesses to communicate their messages directly with customers, readers and clients, in a more immediate way than ever before.

“Used properly, this means that companies can broadcast their business message while at the same time bringing a personal touch to their service.

At the Lancashire Evening Post social media has become an integral part of how we bring news and information to our readers. Colin added: “We can now engage directly with readers like never before in their choice of social media channel, bringing us even closer to the communities we serve.”