How Communication Has Changed Completely in Just 10 Years

 

In years gone by, we were pretty limited in the ways that we could communicate. It was only relatively recently in human history that we were even able to write things down- up until then, the only way to communicate was face-to-face. While this article won’t be delving back that far, we are going to be exploring some of the numerous ways that communication has changed within our own lifetimes. The cultural climate today has become virtually unrecognizable compared to even 25 years ago, and a lot of that is down to how much easier it is to communicate. Trends are picked up and dropped quicker than ever, as consumers can instantly move on to the next big thing the second they get bored. But how did we reach this point? Let’s limit ourselves to the past ten years or so, and examine some of the main ways that the communications revolution has come about.

In the last ten years, the biggest change we have seen to communication is that it has become a lot more immediate. Instead of sending emails back and forth from the computer, and waiting for the recipient to be at their desk before they can send a reply, most people now have got access to instant communication right there in our pockets. The very first iPhone came out back in 2007, and since then smartphones of all shapes and sizes have come to dominate our lives. Our phones are an essential lifeline to a global network, whether it’s business-related or personal. Chances are you’re probably reading this on your phone, too, as the number of mobile web users has now outstripped their desktop counterparts. Email does still have its place, but it’s been superseded by apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger for faster messages that are simpler to reply to.

Not only has communication become a lot more immediate, but it’s also far more cost-effective, too. Before the rise of smartphones and video apps, companies would spend a considerable chunk of their budget on communications. If you wanted to speak to someone, you had to do so via phone or letter. When it came to doing business with clients overseas, that could prove to be really pricey, what with the cost of long-distance phone calls. Now, though, the internet has made everything so much simpler. Using software like Skype or Google Hangouts, you can easily set up a face-to-face conference call with participants from all over the world- completely free! If you have a quick question to ask, you can send an online message and get a fast response, instead of wasting time and money on making phone calls.

Finally, the changes in the methods we use to communicate have also led to a change in precisely how we communicate. Back in the day, you could expect lengthy emails about even the simplest of topics, as people felt obliged to fill the space given to them in much the same way they would with a letter. Now, though, there’s no need to do that when you’re communicating with someone in real-time, even some business relationships have become a lot less formal due to this shift in style. Conciseness is the order of the day, particularly because that ease of communication means that we often have a lot to keep on top of at once.

As you can see, the business world has been totally transformed by these changes in communication. Nowadays, things are a lot simpler and, most importantly, faster. It seems like the whole world is moving at a much quicker pace thanks to the rise of technology, so as businesses, it’s up to us to match that pace. That way, we won’t fall behind the times, and we can keep on meeting the demands of the present.

Let’s team up today, and show you just how effective that consistent approach to marketing can be!

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How Digital Marketing Has Changed in the Last 10 Years

Ten years ago, if you’d mentioned SEO to the average business owner, they would probably be left wondering what the hell you were talking about. Nowadays, though, every company needs to be a lot more tech-savvy with their marketing efforts if they want to succeed. That’s not to say that this more complex technology is a bad thing, though- in fact, it’s opened up a world of opportunities for businesses to achieve even greater results with their digital marketing. Let’s explore some of the ways that things have changed in the past decade and the benefits that they can bring to you when used in the right way.

Social Media is King

Back in 2004, Facebook was only just starting to take off. Nowadays, with over a billion active users, it’s safe to say that Facebook has come to dominate not just social media, but the entire internet. Over the same period, Twitter has also grown into an online behemoth, and both of these sites now offer massive potential to businesses. Along with the rise of LinkedIn and Instagram, businesses have a wide array of platforms to advertise and communicate with their customers. Social Media platforms allow you to interact with your customers in real-time and are a great way of carrying out targeted marketing campaigns that can bring incredible results. The rise of social media, and the amount of options out there nowadays, also give you more ways than ever to reach your audience- we’re living in a multi-channel world, so make sure your marketing reflects that reality.

SEO

Google was already implementing tools like AdWords back in 2000, but it’s only in the last decade or so that they have turned marketing on its head with their advanced ranking algorithms. They originally rolled these out back in 2004, as a way of stopping people from “cramming” keywords. By taking a more organic approach to search rankings, users are presented with more relevant results- which led to a whole new marketing industry based around keeping up with those algorithms. Search engine optimization, or SEO, has become a cornerstone of digital marketing, and those who don’t use it to its full potential are only going to end up getting left behind.

Advertising is Less Aggressive

Before the internet became such a big deal, a lot of advertisers had no choice but to be extremely aggressive in their marketing. After all, with only a very limited amount of time to grab would-be customers’ attention, and no way of knowing who they were reaching, ads couldn’t be as sophisticated as they are today. Nowadays, though, digital marketing can be used to select an incredibly precise target audience, and crafted around that audience. It’s all about creating content that is genuinely engaging, and since social media allows consumers to talk back to advertisers, things are more interactive than ever. Viral marketing is a great way of building a buzz around your brand, and word of mouth is key to success. In short, the digital era has opened up a whole new world of possibilities- it’s up to businesses to decide which of those possibilities will work best for them.

The Rise of Analytics

Possibly the most important development in digital marketing over the last ten years is the sheer amount of data available to businesses. Analytics let you see exactly what you’re achieving with each campaign, so you can determine your ROI with crystal-clear accuracy. That means you can test a specific ad to see if it gets results before you cough up a large amount of money to roll out the full campaign. This allows advertisers to constantly tweak their message and delivery methods until they’ve found the perfect balance, so it’s easier than ever to come up with the ideal marketing content.

Let’s team up today, and show you just how effective that consistent approach to marketing can be!

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Why We Love Marketing: Forging Relationships

We love marketing! One of the reasons we love it so much is because we get to create new relationships. Not only do we get to create relationships with our own clients and get to know their businesses, but we also get to help those clients create relationships of their own. There’s more to marketing than flyers and keywords!

In this article, we take a much closer look at what makes the power of relationship development possible. It’s vital that you understand why a good marketing campaign can work: it’s because it taps into relationship development.
Thanks to the power of being able to better forge relationships, you can easily enjoy a much more satisfying, solid learning experience. Forging relationships is a hard thing to get right, but if you market right then you can turn a potential customer into a customer for years to come.
All it takes is an understanding of the inherent psychology of the relationship development phase. Relationships take a lot of work to keep in place, and one simple mistake could be an end to the whole relationship. Why, then is marketing so good for forging those relationships in the first place?
Creating Friends for Life
One of the great things we love about marketing is that it allows us to use our personality. For a while, businesses traded on the ‘art’ of faceless professionalism. Marketing today, though, needs us to showcase our personalities in full.
People don’t want to buy from a corporation hiding behind a package of lies and goodwill. They want to work with people who know them, their problems and the challenges that they face. This is why marketing today is all about making a connection rather than slogans and promotions.
It’s about showing people that you can genuinely get the problem they face – and you want to help them solve that problem. It allows you to use your creative, personal side to connect with your customer and give them all the help that they need to trust that you’re honest.
Marketing allows you to make friends in ways that you simply could never do in a real-life situation. Since you need to make the person who is reading your marketing believe you are honest and trustworthy, you can really put your own personality to make that marketing campaign stand out.
One of the major reasons why marketing works so well today is that it allows you to personalise the message. Based on things like demographics, gender, industry and earning potential, we can make sure that every advert perfectly fits in with the people that best fits with the kind of business that you run.
It’s thanks to this that you can make sure that you use marketing to do something genuinely interesting. Done right, this can utterly transform the way that you work and make sure that your marketing is enjoyable. Instead of being false, you can simply be yourself!

We pride ourselves on creating excellent relationships with our clients in order to understand who they are and the message they want to give to their customers.

Let’s team up today, and show you just how effective that consistent approach to marketing can be!

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Technology Has Turned the Business World On Its Head

Nowadays, technology dominates almost every aspect of our lives. From the way we communicate with each other, to how we access and consume information about the world around us, we’re more dependent on tech than ever. That’s also true for the ways that we do business, too. Over the last few decades, the business world has been transformed. Advances in technology open up new possibilities and opportunities for businesses all over the world.

The world has become a lot smaller
Think back (if you can!!!) to the business world of the 1970s and 1980s, and there are probably two big pieces of tech that come to mind: the photocopier and the fax machine. In those days, entire companies revolved around these tools to transmit information to each other. You either sent something in the post, or you transmitted it via fax, page by painstaking page. Nowadays, though, that same info can be sent to the other side of the planet in the blink of an eye. As well as being a remarkable technological achievement, in practice, this means that our world has become a whole lot smaller. It’s easy to communicate with international clients and partners, and companies like accountancy and design firms can even complete entire projects digitally, without ever meeting their customers.

Workers are no longer chained to their desks
In the era of cloud computing, employees no longer have to be at their desk to carry out their work. Instead, remote access to systems and software allows them to work on the go or from home when necessary, which is dramatically cutting down on wasted time. It also opens up more opportunities for collaboration between employees, since they can work together in real-time without having to actually be in the same room. This helps to complete projects in far less time, and it also means that other team members can drop in and out to offer their specialist knowledge and skills. Which brings us on to our next point…

A new era of outsourcing
Once upon a time, outsourcing meant putting your trust in a third-party to complete a task from beginning to end with very little feedback on your part. Now, though, the technology is there for outsourcers to effectively form another arm of your core team, and provide their results in real-time. Virtually any task can be outsourced, from continual admin work to taking on an extra team member for those all-important projects. What’s more, as a cost-effective solution, businesses could save up to 70% on such work- and when you take the extra productivity that your employees can achieve into account, it’s clear that outsourcing is a great choice for many companies.

Analytics help you stay in the loop at all times
To stay fully up to date with customer demands and business needs, companies need access to in-depth data. Luckily, the rise of technology means that analytics are now easily accessible. Data can be collected in so many different ways, from web cookies to apps and feedback forms, allowing you to put together an accurate picture of consumer trends and requirements. Best of all, that data can then be easily shared across your entire company with ease, so that everyone is able to pull together to achieve the best results.

Let’s team up today, and show you just how effective that consistent approach to marketing can be!

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What Is Social Media Management?

Nowadays, most businesses have social media profiles. After all, it’s an easy way to put information out there and connect with customers. In previous posts, we covered some of the key benefits of social media for businesses. However, it takes more than just throwing your posts out into the digital ether to get the best results. Instead, you need to carefully consider your approach, keep your customers in mind at all times, and put out the perfect content to drive engagement. In short, you need social media management- and if you’re not sure what this is exactly, read on to learn more.

Before you actually get down to the nitty-gritty of social media, it’s vital that you have a clear, in-depth social media strategy to follow. Ideally, it will be built around achieving your goals, whether they might be increasing brand awareness, driving more traffic to your website, or ramp up your sales figures. By knowing the desired end result, your social media manager will be able to craft a unique strategy to get you there. Working from the top down, they’ll create the optimum to-do list to power your social media efforts and really start connecting with your audience. Don’t underestimate the power of social media- when done right, it can bring huge benefits to your business, so it’s important to give it the time and attention such a powerful weapon deserves.

The first thing to be done is to work on your branding and ensure that everything is clear and consistent. After all, you’ll want visitors to all your social media channels to receive the same high-quality experience, and a bit of extra brand recognition goes a long way to stimulating your future growth. You’ll want your brand to do as much work for you as possible, and that means clearly displaying your company’s USP somewhere prominent on your social media profiles. Ideally, that should be your cover photos since this places front-and-centre exactly why customers should choose you over the competition. A well-designed logo should also be your profile picture across all different channels so that it’s immediately obvious who you are.

Another key part of social media management is regularly scheduling posts so that you are always in the public eye. That way, you can get consistent results from your social media efforts and build up a reputation as a leading company within your sector. That schedule should be a part of your overall strategy, and ideally, you’ll want there to be an obvious link between multiple posts. If, for instance, you’re posting a series of articles on a weekly basis, then write on a similar theme for a decent length of time before you move on to a completely different topic. Posting in this way will keep your audience keen for more, helping to ramp up engagement. This should be a key concern throughout your social media campaign, as the best results come from encouraging your audience to actively interact with your company. After all, your business is all about your customers, so it’s up to you to work hard and keep them happy!

That leads us on to our final point- communicating with your audience is a key part of social media management. One of the great things about social media, in general, is the fact that it allows for instant communication, and this is something you must take advantage of. When customers leave comments on your posts, be sure to respond to them, to show that you are a company that cares. This is particularly important with negative feedback, as you want to demonstrate that you’re willing to take active steps to improve your services and any mistakes that might be made along the way. This is what’s known as “reputation management”, and it’s something that we’ll cover in a later blog post. For now, though, make sure that you make your social media channels a two-way street, to drive that essential engagement and start building up a loyal following of customers.

Let’s team up today, and show you just how effective that consistent approach to marketing can be!

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Which Social Media Sites Should You Be Utilising the Most?

If you want to get on social media but you have no idea what sites you should be using, then you know that you have come to the right place. Here you can find out whatever you need to know about social media, as well as getting the information you need to decide which sites you should be focusing on the most.

Narrow Down your Choices

There are so many social media platforms out there and this gives everyone the chance to connect with one another. People can share their similar hobbies, their interests and more online. The point is that there are so many sites out there and if you try and focus on them all then you won’t get anywhere fast. You need to try and focus on the sites that are going to give you the most traffic, and the top ones include LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and then Facebook.

Defining your Goals

There are so many benefits to choosing your own social media site. It is however important that you know your goals before you make that decision. The objectives that you have will help you to define what platform you need to use, and it will also define the content that you need to create as well. Social media can help you to improve your offerings. For example, if you are on Facebook then this can help you to converse with your customers and it can also help you to talk and relate to them on a personal level. It is also by far the best platform for you to resolve complaints on.

Twitter, on the other hand, is ideal for boosting your brand awareness and it can also help you to reach out to new people. Pinterest is great at advertising products if you have HD or quirky images, and as they say, a picture can speak a thousand words.

Focus on your Audience Channels

The point of social media is to try and put you in contact with the audience that is most suited to your needs. It’s not advisable for you to choose a platform that none of your customers use. If you know that a lot of your customers are on Facebook right now then this should be your starting point. If you are not sure where your customers are then there are a couple of things that you can do to find out this information. One of the best ways would be for you to conduct a customer survey. You need to try and ask questions such as what social sites they use and even what influencers they like to follow as well. By doing this, you can find out where your efforts would be best channelled and this can save you hours of time and thousands in cash.

Of course, there are so many things that you can do when you have the power of social media by your side, and by taking the right steps, you can be sure to boost your business exposure, your profit and your customer trust.

Let’s team up today, and show you just how effective that consistent approach to marketing can be!

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Is 2018 The Return of the Tweet?

Over the last few years, in the political spectrum, sporting world and just about every aspect of life, we’ve come to appreciate being wrong. Let’s face it; who would have called all of the crazy events we’ve seen in the last few years taking place?

From media stars becoming political powerhouses to minnows winning championships, the last few years have taught us that conventional wisdom has rarely been more incorrect. For example, in the last few years you’ve likely seen people chiselling gravestones to lay to rest social media giant, Twitter. 2017 was full of people bouncing with joy that Twitter was on a perpetual slide. It became a site that people were very happy to jump on top of, yet rumours of its demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Those denouncing it as just the home of political bots and outspoken rants about football have quickly come to realise that, in 2018, we might be seeing a glorious revival of Twitter. Not only is Twitter beginning to become much more open to investment from those who want to utilize its unique reach, but the platform is attracting just the right sort of people: advertisers.

Now, Twitter users, prepare for the bad news. You won’t just be seeing retweets from your favourite and least favourite people in the media, you’ll be seeing a lot more advertising. Because of the model of Twitter in the first place, it’s never really been as ad-friendly as other social media platforms. Money talks, of course, so that has seen Twitter take a bit of a kicking in the last few years as advertisers coined it in elsewhere.

2018, though, looks to be the year that this comes to an end. The outlook is quickly becoming far more positive for Twitter, with most investors as positive about Twitter as they have been in some time.

People hate monopolies and duopolies, and it appears like Twitter might be about to benefit from that hatred of anti-competition. So, we expect to see Twitter continue to grow as people look for investments outside of the ‘Big Two’ and try to diversify a marketplace that was all about diversity.

While we aren’t quite ready to say that Twitter is a massive investment opportunity that you must make the most of, it’s a fairly massive improvement from the bleak prognosis of this time last year. As more people begin to make the most of its numerous positive points, we’re much more likely to see the site continue to improve and grow for the right reasons.

Not sure where to start when looking at social media investment? Click here to book a meeting and discuss your digital marketing needs.

The Present Day

So far in this series, we’ve dealt with the evolution of marketing from the nineteenth century up until the new millennium. But what state is the world of marketing in right now? And what developments can we expect in the future? In this final piece, we’ll take a peek into that future, and discover how marketers are using a unique blend of old and new approaches to capture the attention of a new generation.

Those who said that social media was just a fad that would soon pass must be kicking themselves right now. Instead, it’s gone from strength to strength, and nowadays the whole world is more connected than ever before. Over a billion people are now on Facebook, and they, along with other social media companies like Twitter, have made it simple to pay for an ad and reach a pre-determined number of people, allowing small and large companies alike to stick to their marketing budget and get the results that they need to succeed.

The Present day - the history of marketing

While the scope of marketing has gotten bigger and bigger as time goes on, the actual mediums through which people are exposed to that marketing have shrunk from billboards to TV and computer screens. Now, ads can be delivered straight to your pocket via mobile phones. From pop ups on the latest apps to adverts that play in between Snapchat stories, there are now more ways than ever to reach out to people with a message. And people are using that technology more and more, meaning marketing is in a great position to influence people.

The Present day - the history of marketing mobile

That’s not to say that older marketing methods don’t still have a place in today’s world. In fact, some research puts direct mail slightly ahead of email marketing in terms of how likely it is to influence people. In an increasingly digital world, you’d be surprised just how many people out there prefer a physical, analogue approach to things. You only have to look at the resurgence in popularity of vinyl records to see that there’s still something about physical objects that attracts people over cold, hard digital. It’s simple to just delete an email without even looking at it, but people need to at least pick up a piece of direct mail before throwing it away- making it easier for advertisers to catch their eye.

Another form of marketing experiencing a renaissance in popularity is product placement. TV shows and films have always been willing to include brand-name products for the right price. However, as the video game industry continues to grow- with an estimated worth of over $100 billion in 2017- advertisers have started to branch out into this more modern medium. Back in 2004, the amount that companies spent on product placement was a pretty modest $34 million. By 2016, though, that figure had increased to a whopping $7.2 billion. At the same time, with social media being so popular, so-called “influencers” are also being paid to promote certain brands and products via their accounts, reaching out to a vast, ready-made audience.

The Present day - the history of marketing tv and gaming

So, what can we expect from marketing in the future? Well, there’s one big technology that’s starting to emerge right now, and that’s virtual reality. While it’s still in its early stages, VR looks set to finally take off in the next few years as it becomes more accessible and affordable. Naturally, you can expect marketing firms to take advantage of that popularity, and come up with a whole new way of reaching out to consumers. Imagine not just looking at an ad, but actually being inside it! Marketing has always thrived on novelty, since people are naturally attracted to new things. VR is a great way of achieving that, since it’s a completely untapped area.

The Present day - the history of marketing virtual reality

By always staying at the forefront of technology, while still understanding how older approaches fit in with today’s world, marketing has evolved and adapted over the years. In just a few decades, marketing has completely transformed into a whole new beast. Whatever’s around the corner, you can be sure that the industry will adapt.

It Was Acceptable In The 80’s

During the 80’s, it seemed like technology was everywhere. From the rise of the PC and Apple making computers cool, to bands on the radio drenching their sound in synths, things were moving forward fast. Of course, the world of marketing had its finger on the pulse of the era, and it was during the 80’s that advertising started to go digital. Electronic databases made it simple to reach out to existing customers and attract new ones with tempting deals. This also led to the development of “relationship marketing”, where companies provide customers with information that’s specifically relevant to them. Now, instead of giving everyone the same message, marketing could now be tweaked, making it a lot easier to reel in leads.

It was acceptable in the 80's - the history of marketing computer

It was also during the 80’s that companies started thinking bigger when it came to ads. One of the most famous adverts in history, Apple’s “1984”, was the brainchild of Hollywood director Ridley Scott, and cost almost a million dollars just to make. With a distinctive sci-fi feel that captured the feeling of the era, while also showing the Apple Mac as something futuristic and cool, the ad became an instant sensation. Despite being broadcast nationally only once, during the Super Bowl, it became such a talking point that news broadcasts even included clips of it that night- generating millions of dollars’ worth of free publicity for Apple. Just as Michael Jackson was pushing the boundaries of what music videos could be, now the marketing world was starting to think big, too.

With big corporations now regularly spending millions on ad campaigns, smaller companies needed a way of keeping up without blowing their budget. In 1984, Jay Conrad Levinson came up with a solution- guerilla marketing. In his book of the same name, he put forward a type of advertising based on the guerilla warfare used by small-scale armies to take on bigger enemies- by using everything at their disposal. By using these same sorts of tactics, and thinking outside the box, Levinson saw a way for small businesses to capture the minds of consumers without spending a lot of money. Guerilla marketing relies on creating a social buzz around a campaign, and relying on word-of-mouth to spread your message. Not only does it save a fortune compared to big-budget campaigns, but Levinson also saw it as a way of reaching out to a public tired of bland, boring print and radio ads. From art installations and spray-painted slogans to zany stunts like having people tattoo logos on their faces, all bets were off when it came to where companies would turn next for guerilla marketing.

It was acceptable in the 80's - the history of marketing radio

While the possibilities grew, so did the number of people who could put together their own marketing materials. With desktop publishing becoming commonplace, anyone with enough computer savvy and creative skills could put together a strong marketing campaign with real results. No longer was marketing something that only big corporations could afford- thanks to a wealth of smaller ad agencies, the 80’s marked a huge change in just how accessible marketing was to the average business. Businesses could even create their own marketing materials from scratch, making advertising a whole lot more democratic.

So, the 1980’s were a time of great change for the marketing world. At one end of the spectrum, big corporations were spending unprecedented amounts on campaigns designed to wow the public. At the other end, those without a big budget to spend were coming up with innovative new approaches that worked through word-of-mouth. However, everything was about to change with the advent of the internet- and next time, we’ll take a look at just what impact this had on how businesses looked at advertising.

What’s New on Social Media in 2017

It is one of the most powerful tools for businesses ever invented. Social media has transformed how we market ourselves and, for SMEs on limited budgets in particular, it’s an invaluable platform to set out a brand and sell a product or service.

Things are changing, however. Reaching customers is becoming more and more nuanced. Here are just some of the changes that are happening this year and are important if you want your business to succeed on social media.

  1. Social Messaging for Beginners

Forget standard Facebook and Twitter timelines. Millennials want the personal approach. Businesses are starting to engage on platforms such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Viber.

Why? Evidence is beginning to show that users are loyal to a greater degree with brands that engage directly on these platforms. How are businesses doing this? Many are linking their ads on social media to chat windows which means users can engage directly with a brand and get the personal touch. It’s more labour intensive but it could also be a lot more profitable too.

  1. Live Feeds

They’ve taken a while to gain popularity but live feeds are starting to become an integral part of social media platforms, including Facebook. Across the provision, social media live streaming is growing and creating more engagement than standard marketing practices. Millennials are one major demographic who are attracted to live video feeds and sharing the right kind of content is going to be the challenge of 2017 for many businesses.

  1. Chatbots and Automation

There’s been a big conversation in recent times about how automation can be introduced, particularly for businesses that are struggling with the time needed to successfully engage on social media. Artificial intelligence is improving quickly and the latest chatbots can make users think they are talking to a real person. Putting aside the ethics of using automatic responses, there’s no doubt that many businesses are improving their customer service operations by introducing this kind of technology. Chatbots on social media can have numerous benefits and boost confidence in your brand particularly among those all-important millennials.

  1. Augmented Reality

It’s been around for a good few years now but is, at last, beginning to catch on. Facebook is starting to experiment with it following the recent success of Pokémon Go and the growth of Virtual Reality devices and apps. Basically, AR puts digital images onto the real world and there is a lot of potential for social media, and businesses, to make good use of this technology and provide a more immersive experience for fans and followers.

  1. It’s All Fake News

Made popular by new President Donald J Trump in recent months, the notion of fake news is one thing that your business shouldn’t ignore. Social media platforms such as Facebook are looking at ways of reducing the amount of fake news that is disseminated through click bait sites. For businesses, it may well be a case of keeping a look out and being sceptical about information they intend to pass on via social media. A lot, of course, depends on what your business is all about but quick retweets of interesting news snippets is going to be a lot more hazardous for your brand from now on.

It’s vitally important nowadays to have a coherent strategy in place for social media, including policies for what can be shared and what definitely shouldn’t. There’s no doubt that 2017 could be an interesting year for businesses, and leveraging your brand in new and exciting ways is going to take some deep thinking and a good deal of experimentation to find what works for you.