Building my professional profile

Creating a digital presence

Developing an online profile builds your professional networking contacts and makes you visible to your peers, colleagues, existing and potential business partners, and companies looking for candidates with your skills and experience. Social media is a powerful job hunting tool and can similarly be used as a screening tool by recruiters. When building a professional profile online, you are essentially marketing yourself to a potentially very wide audience. “Everything you do online is a representation of your personal brand” (Tolliday, 2015). By actively managing your presence on social media, you can monitor your brand to ensure that you are sending out the right image.

LinkedIn

I joined LinkedIn in January 2015 after deciding to change career path. The main reason I joined was to create a digital presence and promote my experience and skills. I soon realised that LinkedIn was a useful way to establish connections with professional influencers and peers and follow interesting companies. LinkedIn is an essential tool for graduates, job seekers, and recruiters as the personal profile has replaced the traditional cover letter and CV and the platform now offers a level-playing field for networking.

On LinkedIn I have joined several networking and discussion groups, the most useful of which is currently the ‘Irish Professionals Nordic Network’. Through this group I am able to keep up to date with relevant networking events and connect with other professionals interested in strengthening links between Ireland and the Nordic countries.

A detailed LinkedIn profile with a professional photo, concise summary and additional media and presentation links can create a lasting first impression (Arruda, 2015) and endorsed skills can give credibility to your profile. I have taken steps to complete my profile with my target audience in mind and have successfully reached “All-Star” status (of course, there is still some room for growth!)

LinkedIn profile
My LinkedIn profile with ‘All-Star’ profile strength

 

Twitter

Twitter is a relatively new platform for me. I started tweeting in August 2015 and in addition to managing my own Twitter account, I am now also the main copy-writer and administrator of Tourism Ireland Nordics consumer Twitter account.

Twitter is a valuable tool for following experts in many different fields and using lists to bookmark and categorise influential  Twitter accounts is a simple and practical way to filter the content in your Twitter feed and focus on a particular topic or trend.

Twitter is less formal than LinkedIn but it is still important for professionals to use an appropriate tone of voice and remember that opinions may be viewed as representative of their company. One of the challenges I experience with Twitter is finding the right balance between Tweets that reflect my personal interests such as travel, food, languages and digital marketing, and content that actively promotes the brand image of Tourism Ireland, as the description in my bio refers to my professional position.

Twitter profile
My Twitter profile with detailed Twitter bio

 

WordPress

I recently set up a WordPress account to share blog posts about my digital marketing experiences. I have previously written blog posts on LinkedIn that continue to receive new views, and I realise that having a professional blog can help me to promote my profile, reach a wider peer audience and interact with other professionals.

Starting and keeping up with a blog is a bigger commitment than LinkedIn or Twitter, but there are many distinct advantages. A blog can offer insights into the writer’s passions and interests and I feel that by consistently adding posts to my WordPress and LinkedIn profiles, I can develop a stronger personal brand and showcase more of what I know and do in a professional format.

A blog can become a powerful archive of ideas, projects, and professional achievements  (Barrett, 2015) and previous posts can offer interesting reflections, enabling the writer to recall how they have adapted to new challenges and developed during their career. Self-reflection is an important skill for professionals as it leads to greater self-awareness and ultimately more effective leadership skills (Tjan, 2012).

Final thoughts

It is important to join the conversation on social platforms and to offer thought-leadership or value to your network. To ensure that your profile remains visible, you should share relevant content and update your profile regularly. By setting weekly goals such as finding new connections, posting updates, starting a conversation, or publishing new content, I plan to continue developing my online profile and hopefully stand out as an influential member within my social media networks.

 

Bibliography

Arruda, W. (2015). How to write the perfect LinkedIn summary. LinkedIn. Retrieved 5 April 2016, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-write-perfect-linkedin-summary-william-arruda

Barrett, T. (2015). 8 reasons you should have a professional blog. The Curious Creative. Retrieved 09 April 2016, from http://edte.ch/blog/2015/02/05/8-reasons-you-should-have-a-professional-blog/

Tjan, A. (2012). How leaders become self-aware. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 5 April 2016, from https://hbr.org/2012/07/how-leaders-become-self-aware/

Tolliday, D. (2015). How to Use Social Media to Build Your Personal Brand. Social Media Examiner. Retrieved 6 April 2016, from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/use-social-media-to-build-your-personal-brand/

Search Engine Marketing

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can be roughly categorised into two sections: SEO (Search Engine Optimisation, referring to the organic section of search results) and paid search (also known as pay-per-click or PPC) (Pan, 2015). Done correctly, these two approaches to SEM improve the ranking of your business on a search engine results page. Success in organic search rankings involves website optimisation, focused content development and publicity activities. Paid search success requires strategic selection of keywords, effective ad campaigns, and the close management of your paid advertising account such as Google AdWords. It is important to remember that while search results and ads might bring consumers to your website, you must also look at what will keep them there. Search engines continuously update their ranking algorithms in order to provide better results, and businesses are rewarded when customer experience is optimised through relevant landing pages, faster page-loading times, and site compatibility with mobile devices.

Making the most of AdWords

The aim of SEM is to reach the right customers at the right time in order to increase traffic to your website, increase sales or other conversions, or raise brand awareness. SEM tools such as Google AdWords take the guesswork out of advertising and managers can closely follow the customer journey to see where and how customers are interacting with their business.  The Google AdWords course provides a comprehensive introduction into online advertising, the function of SEM, how to set up an AdWords campaign and how to improve your results.

AdWords campaign types are centred around Google’s advertising networks: the Google Search Network, the Google Display Network, and the YouTube Network. The network you choose depends on your business needs and campaign objectives.”Managing an SEM campaign requires constant monitoring, testing, tweaking, optimization, and learning” (Sept, 2015). High ranks in search network results are desirable but they are not a definitive measure of AdWords campaign success. If your ad is less relevant and text snippets less attractive than other results, users still will not click. In order to capture the different ways customers search for your product or service, it is essential to use a variety of relevant keywords, create compelling ads, and provide useful, unique content. Google recommends checking in on your AdWords account at least once a week to see how your ads and keywords are performing, and make any necessary adjustments. Using AdWords statistics to analyse campaign performance, and refine your ads, keywords, budget and bidding options will lead to a better return on investment, and can also help you plan more effectively for future campaigns.

SEM is an investment and there are always new features that can be used to improve organic and paid search results. Digital marketers must ensure they keep up-to-date with these changes in order to maximise the potential success of campaigns and maintain competitive advantage for their business (Hull, 2016).

Search Engine Marketing – a curious mix

“Search marketing demands a curious mix of business, writing and technical skills” (Moran & Hunt, 2014, p. xvii). The Google AdWords course has made me reflect on how I use text, visuals and call-to-actions (CTAs) to promote customer engagement via social media and warm email channels, and drive traffic to our website. The course also reminded me of the need to carefully select appropriate landing pages that match the description in the social post or email. Many elements of the AdWords course complement the Google Analytics Academy course. Having recently completed the Analytics Academy course, I was able to see the bigger marketing picture and better understand the relationship between SEM and multi-channel attribution models, and the overall objective of attracting more motivated clicks and ultimately more customers.

Bibliography

Hull, J. (2016). Google announces upcoming AdWords UI upgrades. iProspect. Retrieved 9 April 2016, from http://www.iprospect.com/en/gb/blog/google-announces-upcoming-adwords-ui-upgrades/

Pan, B. (2015). The power of search engine ranking for tourist destinations. Tourism Management, 47, 79-87. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2014.08.015

Moran, M., & Hunt, B. (2014). Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company’s Website (3rd ed.). IBM Press.

Sept, A. (2015). Getting results with search engine marketing. Upwork. Retrieved 4 April 2016, from https://www.upwork.com/hiring/marketing/search-engine-marketing/

Digital Analytics

Analytics Academy with Google

Digital analytics provides insights into how consumers are interacting with a brand’s website.The consumer digital journey is becoming increasingly complex and in order to gain competitive advantage, businesses need to measure these interactions and leverage actionable data. According to W3Techs, Google Analytics (GA) is the most widely used web traffic analysis tool on the internet, and to support new and existing users Google provides a free and comprehensive training course in Digital Analytics Fundamentals. The Analytics Academy course uncovers the many features and reporting tools of GA and by understanding how to get the most out of these tools, businesses can identify opportunities for unlocking data and using the insights that matter.

 

Course content and structure

The aim of the Analytics Academy course is for users to learn the core principles of digital analytics including how to create a GA account, collect data, and navigate reporting tools. The course contextualises digital analytics and the objective of the first chapter is for users to recognise why digital analytics tools are important to implement for their business. Training is delivered through video tutorials, text-based learning content, lesson activities, and a final assessment exam. There are also links to additional resources for users who would like to dive deeper into the world of analytics or simply for those who require further experience. Key metrics and dimensions are defined throughout the course and the functions of different reports and filters are discussed.

One disadvantage of the course is perhaps the over-reliance on video instruction and subsequent lack of practical exercises. With this course, users do have some opportunities to practically apply learnings on a mock analytics account. However, I feel that it is only by manipulating real data in Tourism Ireland Nordics account that I have gained a real understanding of how to access and interpret different reports.

Questions in the final assessment were drawn from the course topics. It was disappointing that no feedback was provided following the assessment, except for the overall score. Having answered 18 of 20 multiple-choice questions correctly, I repeated the test a second time to try to find the answers to the remaining 2 questions. This was easier said than done and I eventually had to search through the GA Help Center to find the correct answers.

Google Analytics assessment
Analytics Academy final assessment (18/20)

 

Key learnings

Using analytics to extract meaningful information and inform decision-making, moves us from being “reactive” to becoming “proactive” marketers (Kang, 2015). Data can be used to understand what has happened but to also predict what is going to happen, anticipate future outcomes and set targets. Gaining insights into how customers use your website is a fundamental step in improving future digital marketing campaigns and continuing to optimise the consumer experience. “Creativity is necessary to develop new ways of using data or to identify new opportunities for unlocking data” (Bhandari, Singer, van der Scheer, 2014) and the efficient use of digital analytics is related to a continual improvement process: measure, report, analyse, test, improve. Consumers move across channels and devices, and in order to effectively optimise and attribute value to each interaction, technical and marketing teams must build systems of insights together (Hopkins & Schlader, 2015). Your overall measurement plan and business objectives will influence what you track using GA, but a strategic and multi-disciplinary approach to analytics is essential for implementing tangible business actions based on consumer insights.

 

Bibliography

Bhandari, R., Singer, M., & van der Scheer, H. (2014). Using marketing analytics to drive superior growth. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved 5 April 2016, from http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/using-marketing-analytics-to-drive-superior-growth

Hopkins, B., & Schadler, T. (2015). Digital insights are the new currency of business. KMWorld Magazine. Retrieved 6 April 2016, from http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/Features/Digital-insights-are-the-new-currency-of-business-106445.aspx

Kang, J. (2015). How to achieve one-to-one marketing. AgilOne. Retrieved 4 April 2016, from http://www.agilone.com/how-to-achieve-one-to-one-marketing

Social Media

Social Media for businesses – What’s it all about?

According to marketers, the main benefits of social media marketing are increasing exposure and increasing traffic for their business (Stelzner, 2015) Effective social media marketing can enable companies to raise brand awareness, establish the brand’s personality, communicate with existing and potential customers, and build real connections. Social media provides opportunities to engage with customers at all points of the purchase funnel, and, with the exponential growth of social networking platforms, customers are no longer limited to a passive role in their relationship with a company (Malthouse, Haenlein, Skiera, Wege & Zhang, 2013). Social media facilitates word of mouth marketing and customers help to amplify positive messages on behalf of a brand by sharing content with their social network. Conversely, negative customer experiences can also be shared on social media with the potential to reach a wide audience.

The power of social connections is hugely significant in terms of reach of a company’s message. By focusing on customer experience, companies can use social CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to increase positive engagements and turn customers into brand advocates. One size does not fit all on social media and understanding the audience of various platforms is essential in order to correctly reach out to different segmentations. As Frederiksen (2015) notes “the culture and audiences of the different social platforms should inform all of your content creation”. The customer journey keeps changing, and digital marketers must continuously adapt their approach. Using social media analytics, companies can gain insights into changing consumer interests and trends, key social influencers, ad-campaign effectiveness and competitive intelligence (Fan & Gordon, 2014, p. 74), thus enabling them to determine the content, platforms and users that best fit their business strategy.

How Social Media is used in Tourism Ireland

Tourism Ireland has a strong social media presence with more than 3.5 million Facebook fans and 340,000 Twitter followers (Tourism Ireland, 2016). Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are the key social channels with increasing activity on InstagramPinterest, and the newly launched ‘Community’ forum on ireland.com. Based on social media followers, the organisation is consistently ranked amongst the most popular tourism boards in the world. Social media marketing plays an important role in Tourism Ireland’s corporate strategy and the goal is to move consumers through the purchase funnel, from inspiring or informing to actually booking a holiday to the island of Ireland. Tourism Ireland uses Social Equivalent Advertising Value (SEAV) to quantify the value of engagements with fans and measure the return on investment in social media activities. The company continues to adapt to changing platforms and algorithms with increased use of visual content and User Generated Content (UCG) and strategic partnerships with travel bloggers and compatible brands, which enable both parties to gain from the other’s brand equity.

Reaching out to a brand on Twitter

For this task, I decided to focus on a tourism related product. Leading up to Easter, I asked the Irish Whiskey Museum @IWMDublin whether they would be open as normal on Good Friday. I received a reply from @IWMDublin in under 4 hours.

Photo 23-03-2016, 08 36 24
Reply from The Irish Whiskey Museum @IWMDublin

 

While @IWMDublin confirmed that the museum would be open, their response was quite brief with no additional information. In my opinion, details about the opening hours and a link to their website, particularly their booking page, would have been very practical and could have fit into the 140-character limit on Twitter. Providing more information would have enabled the museum to promote their product and raise brand awareness as their reply would have appeared in the timeline of any Twitter users following both @IWMDublin and me. Furthermore, a direct link to their booking system could help to move potential customers along the purchase funnel and increase conversions.

Asking a brand a question on Facebook

Compared to Twitter, I found it more challenging to receive a response from brands on Facebook. After several attempts on other pages, I wrote a question on Rachel’s Irish Adventures Facebook looking for information on gift vouchers. I received a reply within 2 hours.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.18.43
Replies from Rachel’s Irish Adventures

It was a very positive interaction and I received relevant and useful information, including a direct link to a landing page where I could purchase a gift voucher. The replies also provided suggestions for activities and accommodation for which the voucher could be redeemed, and a tag to another Facebook page endorsed by Rachel’s Irish Adventures. The interaction was enhanced by the offer of further help should I have any additional questions. The replies highlight strong marketing skills and excellent customer focus. Based on the prompt, helpful and friendly response, I feel that Rachel’s Irish Adventures would offer a positive customer experience – something which can be attributed to the ‘Halo Effect’ of social media marketing (Frederiksen, 2015).

 

Bibliography

Fan, W., & Gordon, M. (2014). The power of social media analytics. Communications of the ACM, 57(6), 74-81.

Frederiksen, L. (2015). The Psychology of Social Media Marketing: 4 Ways to Increase Interaction. Hootsuite Social Media Management. Retrieved 2 April 2016, from https://blog.hootsuite.com/psychology-of-social-media-marketing-4-ways-to-increase-interaction/

Malthouse, E., Haenlein, M., Skiera, B., Wege, E., & Zhang, M. (2013). Managing customer relationships in the social media era: Introducing the social CRM house. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 27(4), 270-280.

Stelzner, M. (2015). 2015 Social media marketing industry report: How Marketers are using social media to grow their businesses. Social Media Examiner. Retrieved on 5 April 2016, from http://live-socialmediaexaminer.pantheon.io/SocialMediaMarketingIndustryReport2015.pdf

Tourism Ireland (2016). Have you got a story to tell? Tourism Ireland Industry Opportunities. Retrieved 3 April 2016, from https://www.tourismirelandindustryopportunities.com/How-We-Can-Help/Have-you-a-story-to-tell