How to build a network of contacts

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As John Donne once wrote, "no man is an island," and nowhere is that truer than the world of business. In the interconnected era of 2018, your strength is only as good as your LinkedIn connections.

Building a network of contact is a tricky, nuanced business, and the stakes couldn't be higher. After all, your industry peers are those you'll hire, learn from, and work with. That said, there are strategies you can use.

Offer value

If you do something for someone, they're more likely to remember you later down the line. In all your business relationships, consider how best you can offer value to the other party. This could be something as simple as a LinkedIn endorsement, or a link to an article you think they might find interesting.

If they go above and beyond for you, an email to their boss expressing what a wonderful job they’ve done is always appreciated. A kind gesture goes a long way.

Celebrate their triumphs

Has your contact gotten a promotion or a new job? Is it their birthday? Say congratulations!

It suggests that you actually care about them, and elevates your relationship from something superficial to something more meaningful. Calendar reminders are quick to create, so make notes when they mention an event coming up online. They will be happily surprised you remembered.

Make time to meet up

The Internet has facilitated millions of new relationships, and thanks to platforms like Twitter and Instagram, it's easier than ever to meet people in your vertical. That said, there's nothing quite like meeting someone over lunch. Having a meal or a drink with your local contacts regularly is a fun way to check in if you haven’t had time to speak with them.

If you’re a remote worker, when you are travelling, see if you’ll be near a potential contact. It’s always worth pinging them to see if they’ll grab a coffee with you. Connecting online is one thing, but getting the face time with someone and seeing how you work together is another.

Someone who might be a bit shy over Twitter might actually be gregarious over a few cappuccinos!

Ask for their expert opinion

Everyone's experience is different. Different situations result in different lessons, each with their own value. If you're stuck on a problem, reach out to your network and see what they can do for you. They might have the answer you've been desperately looking for.

Be sure to ask about their work, not just your inquiry, and show your gratitude. No one can ever be too generous, and that generosity needs to be remembered.

It’s also helpful to know your strengths, so you can offer your own professional advice. Find out what your new connection may need help with, and see if your skills match up!

Follow them through their career

In the world of PR and Communications, it's not unheard of for people to change roles every few years. It's far too easy to lose track of those in your network. It's not easy, but try and keep track of those you've met throughout your career journey. You might be thankful you did.

KATHERINE HUGHES, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMS

5 ways for brands to make the most of Facebook

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Everyone and their mother is on Facebook - whether it’s to share photos of their food, play games or keep up with old sixth form friends. That’s what makes it the perfect platform to grow your business and keep in touch with your customers: everybody is already there! More than a place for a bit of fun, Facebook is just the thing you need to jumpstart your social media presence.

Be Prolific

Signing up to Facebook? That’s easy. Ensuring a steady flow of content to keep your audience engaged? That’s an entirely different kettle of fish. Fortunately, we’ve got your back. Here are two tried-and-tested strategies designed to keep your social media cogs turning.

First up: planning, or as my guidance counsellor once told me, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

Don’t be afraid to think about your social outreach in advance. Crack open a Google Sheets document and think about what you want to share, and crucially, when. If you’ve got a couple of hours spare, maybe spend it outlining your Facebook outreach for the coming weeks.

The other idea isn’t actually mine. It’s one I’ve (rather shamelessly) stolen from The Atlantic magazine’s social media team, but trust me, it’s an excellent one. As Oscar Wilde once wrote, “talent borrows, genius steals.”

In a nutshell, don’t be afraid to recycle your content. If you write a blog post, don’t just post it once. Post it every month or so. If you’ve got a backlog of evergreen blog posts, post them to your Facebook page in regular intervals.

The advantage of this is twofold. Firstly, it means that your content has value beyond the first couple of days after publication. Secondly, it means you can ensure there’s a steady stream of content, even during the drier periods, like during the holidays, or when your social media manager is off sick.

Get visual

It seems obvious, but content that’s more visually engaging has a tendency to perform better in engagements.

If you’re posting plaintext content to Facebook, you’re doing it wrong. If you want to get your engagement numbers up, images, videos, and polls are your friend. Use them.

If you’ve got a supply of original visual content ready for the embedding, that’s fantastic. If not, all is not lost. Don’t be afraid to delve into the wealth of public domain imagery on the Internet.

The best site for this, in my humble opinion, is UnSplash. The quality and range of the photos are sublime, and they’re completely free. You don’t even need to credit the creator -- although it’s strongly encouraged.

Craft Your Brand Voice - Then Talk

Posting on Facebook is a key method for getting to know your audience, and letting them get to know you too. Customers don’t want to feel like they’re speaking to a salesman, but one of their mates.

Try not to be too formal, and speak in a friendly way like you normally would. Once you get your brand’s voice down pat, be sure to post regularly! Build a schedule that ensures you capture all of the possible times your audience will be checking their Facebook.

Fight fires (before they become infernos)

It’s worth remembering that social media isn’t a one-way conversation. As a brand, you’re sharing content with your customers, and they can respond in kind.

While you’ll inevitably wish for all interactions with your customers to be positive, that is unlikely to be the case. You may, for example, accidentally post something that infuriates or offends. They may have an issue with your product and take to your Facebook presence to complain.

Should this happen, be proactive. Apologise if need be. Do your best to make things right. Problems, if ignored, can spiral quickly. You could end up dealing with a #PRFail.

Build passionate users

It goes without saying that if someone has taken the effort to ‘like’ your Facebook page, they feel more than apathetic about your brand. They’re interested in what you’re doing and have invited you into their personal realm.

Engage with them. Make them care. Delight them. But beyond that, stoke the embers of passion.

Some social media scheduling platforms -- like, for example, SocialFlow -- let you pinpoint the users who most frequently engage with your page. Personalised content, private enthusiast groups, and freebies can keep these individuals coming.

To build an audience is one feat. To maintain it is entirely another.

This ain’t a science; it’s an art, and a messy one at that. While much of the advice is universal, how you deploy it is entirely up to you!

BY KATHERINE HUGHES, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMS.

How to stay motivated

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Is the beginning of the week making you feel a bit down? If you find that your motivation is lacking, know that you are not alone.

Everyone has gone through that period in their work or in life where they’ve lacked the motivation they once had. But fear not! We’ve compiled a list of tips you can always use to get your drive back.

Reach out to others

Sometimes all we need is some reassurance and support. Having someone to share your thoughts with and support you in your time of need can be all the motivation you need. Sharing a strong social support system is the greatest source of resilience, success, and happiness that you can have. When you begin to lose sight of your goals, having a trusted "someone" can help guide and remind us of those goals we set and gives us the strength to get the ball rolling again.

Break down goals

Breaking down objectives into smaller goals can help you focus better and will make achieving them a lot easier.

Our motivations are highly dependent on the dopamine system. When we take on a goal, we need to pump ourselves with dopamine along the way. Reassuring ourselves that we will feel rewarded at the end of our pursuit is like driving with no fuel. Luckily, even physically ticking off the task we set out to complete gives us enough of a dopamine surge to make us want to continue our pursuit.

Don't make the tasks so monumental that you have to go a long way before feeling rewarded. Break them down, do them whether you feel like it or not, and keep rewarding yourself with variety and aplomb as you go!

Celebrate the wins!

Sometimes thinking about the company’s main goal can be overwhelming, especially if it’s a long-term objective, making you feel like it's not possible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The simple solution is to simply celebrate the smaller milestones you’re hitting that are contributing to your overall goals.

Make a to-do list of your objectives, and each time you cross off one of them give yourself a reward. Celebrate your wins. However small these wins may seem, they can boost your inner work life tremendously. A celebration is more than just an excuse to party, it’s taking a moment to pause and acknowledge your accomplishments.

Find a hobby outside of work

If your motivation is low and you feel like you are forced to take on activities you care very little about, try and find an activity outside of work that can give you intrinsic meaning and has a direct purpose for your life. This way, you’re not coming to work feeling you are being deprived of any fulfilment and into an environment where everyone is on edge.

Focus on one small success a day

Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the things that you’re not accomplishing. But chances are, you’re probably still experiencing small successes every day --you’re just not seeing them as a “win” because you’re too focused on a “bigger” task. Completing a project is a win, and so is making that difficult phone call when you really didn’t feel like making it. As little as this may seem it goes a long way to help you get that motivation back.

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips on communications and marketing here!

The Hiring Guide

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It’s finally happening, the moment you’ve dreamed of: your startup is growing. To sustain the growth you need to hire more people and this is where things can get a bit complicated. Competition for top talent is fierce in the tech industry and the price charged by specialised recruiters can set you back. So, what do you do?

First things first: don’t panic. There are a few things you can do yourself to get your business noticed by job seekers.

Work on your employer branding

A lot has been said recently about inbound hiring and how it’s set to be the future of attracting talent to companies. But what is inbound hiring? It’s a way of creating content that will consolidate your brand as an employer. This will help you not only to get the attention of job seekers but also retain your current employees.

So the first thing you should be asking yourself is: who are you as a company? To get the answer to this question, organise informal discussions with your current employees or even send anonymous surveys so they can be truly honest about what they think and how they feel about the company.

Once you get that nailed, you can think of a content strategy to help you promote your employer branding.

Take advantage of social media

Your employer branding should first focus on how you present the company on your website and then working on blog posts and articles that push the message you want to convey. This is the chance you have to give potential new hires a glimpse of what it’s like to work for your company and exactly because of that your content strategy should definitely include social media.

Instagram is a great channel to explore as it’s a platform on which you can have a little more fun. Try posting pictures that capture the company culture and experiment with videos and stories. Twitter and Facebook are other great ways of engaging with the community.

Get your team involved

Your employees should be your number 1 advocates. Encourage them to let people know why they love working for your company. You can even introduce a referral scheme to boost the process of finding new hires.

Go offline

We all know and love the internet, but when it comes to hiring you should not use it as your only resource. Get yourself to job fairs in your sector and networking events.

Let people know you are hiring and willing to receive recommendations from them. A good idea is to have an open day at your office, inviting job seekers to see up-close what it’s like to work for your company on a day-to-day basis.

Getting all of these steps in motion will be a good start to getting people interested in your company and, maybe, applying for one of your job openings.

Happy hiring!

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips on communications and marketing here!

Small businesses & PR: what you’re doing wrong

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Have you given PR a try or experienced working with a journalist and it didn't work? Did you get frustrated by the experience and wonder what went wrong?

Here at CEW, while we are passionate about helping businesses of all sizes scale through PR, we always encourage early startups to spend money on getting their product right first before even thinking about spending on comms!

We want you to give it a go - but we also know the obvious potholes you can fall into, so today we're focussing on the common mistakes small businesses make in PR - and quick ways to fix them.

What you’re doing wrong: You think you don’t need a PR plan

As a business plan is crucial to run a business successfully, the same applies to a PR plan. You just cannot ‘wing it’ when it comes to Comms, you have to take time thinking about what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get where you want to be.

How to fix it: Sit down in front of your computer and start writing. Don’t postpone the work. Start setting PR goals - based on your business goals - they can be as few or as many as you need as long as they’re aligned with your business goals.

A PR plan for the year ahead is ideal but if you don’t feel confident enough you can start with making a plan for the next three months.

A great way to help pull your plan together? Talk to your customers to understand the way they engage with the media. Check out one of the first editions of the newsletter on this topic, here.

What you’re doing wrong: You have the wrong approach when it comes to dealing with the media

One thing founders get wrong is that the fact their product is great does not mean it will get covered by the media. Humility comes a long way when dealing with the media and building a reputation is something that takes time and a lot of work.

How to fix it: You should work on building a relationship with the media - and you can read up here. You can start by approaching them on email, telling about your company and your product. Journalists are always on the lookout for stories and are used to being approached with pitches on new companies and products, so you don’t have to hold back here. Be cordial and succinct and do your research, it is this first contact that will potentially lead to a good relationship with the journalist.

After you reach out for the first time, wait a few days until you follow up. Contact them only through their professional channels unless you already have a previous relationship with them. Reaching out through social media is fine, but don’t overdo it. Don’t use LinkedIn or Facebook - if you think their email inbox is bad….these are not better.

What you’re doing wrong: You're not using your website efficiently…

Having just a website is not enough, you have to have a great website. Think of it as the front door to your business as it is the first thing your potential customers will likely see when searching for you online. We all have to start somewhere, but considering anyone you speak to within the media will Google you, is your site up to scratch with the information they need?

How to fix it: Your website needs to work for your user or customers, so focus on the importance of User Experience (UX). Interview your customers to find out what kind of website they’d be attracted to. Watch your competitors to see how they are portraying themselves online. And remember to be clear and simple. You can also read more about UX here.

But also - "Think Journalist" - make sure your website covers six key points: What, Where, When, Why, Who and How. Always make it easy for them to get in touch - add a media@ email address somewhere on your site.

What you’re doing wrong: You are not taking advantage of social media

With over a billion people worldwide using more than one form of social media, your customer is within easy reach, so not using platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn you are missing out on a lot of business opportunities.

How to fix it: Put some time aside to think about which channels work best for the type of audience you want to reach - and ask your customers what they use. Once you decide which platforms to use, create the accounts and draft a few posts. Get feedback from friends, family and potential customers. Use it as a tool to create your own social media tone of voice guidelines and strategy (you can learn more about this in this blog post).

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips on communications and marketing here!

5 productivity tools to maximise your time

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Time. There’s just never enough of it, is there? Feeling out of sorts or unproductive can destroy your work day. Even if you have a productive morning, sometimes the after-lunch slump can zap any energy you have left. Luckily, we’ve rounded up some of the best tech around to help you stay focused and manage your time. Prep for success by blocking social media websites and using word processors that are dedicated to keeping you on task.

Calmly Writer
The best way to set yourself up to get things done is a distraction-free environment. Old reliable word processors like Microsoft Word have complicated menu bars and pop-ups with suggestions, which can derail your concentration, especially when grappling with word choice. Those things don’t matter when your goal is to get the words down and edit later.

Calmly Writer’s main purpose is to help you keep your eyes on the prize, with a menu bar that disappears into the top when you start typing. You can even use a mode that lets you focus only on your current paragraph, so you aren’t even distracted by what you’ve previously written. While it does have formatting tools, they are pared down to keep the interface simple and clean. It even has a “dark mode” if you prefer, with a fully black background and white text. It’s just you and your words. Simple.

RescueTime
If you can’t help but get into a debate that drags on for hours every time you log into Facebook or Twitter, it’s time to consider an application that blocks those websites during the day. RescueTime is the tool every person who is a bit too invested in their social media accounts needs.

This is a great tool not just for blocking websites, but to also find out where all of your time is going. RescueTime works in the background, so you can set the times each website is blocked without even noticing. It also keeps data on how much time you’re spending on each website, which keeps you informed on what you really should be blocking during work time. It can also tell you your most productive hours of the day, and even your best and worst days of the week.

Grammarly
Let’s face it, we can all use a helping hand to ensure we are following all of the grammar rules. If you haven’t got a grammar whiz around, Grammarly is there to help. It’s an AI tool that looks at how you can better structure your sentences, as well as checking your spelling, verb choice, tenses, and punctuation.

Grammarly even identifies the passive voice to help ensure you keep your writing interesting. If you work remotely like I do, it’s helpful to use a tool like this when someone may not necessarily be around to edit your work. It certainly isn’t a replacement, but it keeps things moving, so your writing moves faster than before.

Zenkit
If you’re struggling to make sense of everything you’ve got on your plate, a Kanban board is perfect for organising your tasks at every stage of completion. No matter what type of project you’re working on, you can make the boards work for you. Easily move your task from ‘idea’, to ‘doing’, to ‘done’. It’s a great tool to visualize the work you have and give yourself a pat on the back for all the work you’ve finished. Go you!

LastPass
How many hours have been lost trying to work out a password to an account? Ultimately being locked out, where you end up wasting even more time with a password reset? If you manage many accounts at once, (which I’m sure the majority of us do), LastPass is your best tool for managing your passwords. It utilises multifactor authentication, with access granted only with your master password, securing all of your login data in one place.

BY KATHERINE HUGHES, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMS.

If you decide that enough is enough, how do you delete your Internet presence?

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“That’s it! I’ve had enough. I’m done!”

This exclamation is present in a few settings. It often signals the end of something: such as a relationship or a Netflix subscription. When this or similar phrases are said, you know that that person has reached the end of their tether. They are annoyed. They have been pushed to the limit due to certain external influences. The end is imminent.

This notion to end it all - for the first time in the history of social media - gathered tremendous momentum in the past year. The #DeleteFacebook movement was even supported by a former Facebook executive and WhatsApp Co-Founder, Brian Acton. Furthermore, in this 2017 poll, less than one-third of Americans agreed that Facebook was a force for good and only 26% were convinced that Facebook cared about its users.

Such a huge movement against a huge company has not happened by chance, or for no reason. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spent the past year drowning in legal battles and fines as a result of misusing user data. It truly has not been pretty over at Facebook HQ, with further accusations that they allowed the spread of fake news advertisements, which influenced the US presidential elections.

The Cambridge Analytica Scandal is what really tipped the #DeleteFacebook movement over the edge. Christopher Wylie, who exposed the recent CA scandal, pushed this notion to the fore in public consciousness. Wylie (AKA the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower) lifted the lid on the gross misuse of Facebook users' data by the company.

CA says that it “uses data to change audience behaviour” but Wylie exposed a much darker side. Unbeknown to users, their data (likes, status updates, private messages) and that of all of their friends, was sucked by malign software. One million dollars was spent on harvesting tens of millions of Facebook profiles.

This data was used to identify targeted voter groups, where specific material was then pushed onto their timelines to influence their opinion on certain matters. CA knew factors such as: what users viewed most; what part of the screen they lingered on longest; what they are most susceptible to; and, how many times it would need to be seen for an opinion to be changed. If it sounds dark it’s because it was. In Wylie’s own words, “it is a full-service propaganda machine”.

Convinced? Here’s how to delete your Facebook account.

This link will direct you to the one-stop-shop for Facebook account deletion. There are two options presented here, which are to keep the Messenger function of Facebook (thus not deleting your account and merely deactivating) and downloading all content that you have uploaded.

Unless you want some seriously cringey #ThrowbackThursdays, it’s unlikely that you will want to go through all of your downloadable content. But we recommend downloading it and keeping it safe. You never know when it could come back to bite you, or when you might want to take a trip down memory lane. If you need another hit of FB, you have 14 days to log back in and save your account from the digital graveyard. Now that Facebook is out of the way, let’s move on to deleting your wider Internet presence.

We should tread the line between our physical and digital selves very cautiously. Potential employers, online dating matches and so on will scour your social media profiles to suss you out before meeting you. We have all heard of the horror stories where jobs have been lost due to old tweets being resurrected. Let your past stay there.

To delete your Twitter account click here.

We know that it is difficult. But, if you want to delete your Internet presence, you must prise yourself away from the cute puppy Instagram accounts. If you’re ready to risk it all, and rely on the chance of bumping into real life puppies to provide your daily doses of pup-tastic pleasure, you can delete your Instagram account here.

Now that you have laid your main social media profiles to rest (RIP), take some time to think of any other platforms where you used to have an account - MySpace, anyone? - but haven’t logged into in ages. List them all and go about deleting your presence in every single one of them. Think of it as a Christmas cleanse for your digital self.

Good luck and happy cleansing!

BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMS.

Ways to ensure success while working remotely

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Remote working often feels like a strange marriage between both your working and home lives, but you can make it work. As CEW's only remote Junior, working from Liverpool while the core team is in London, I've done plenty of trial and error to figure out what leads to a productive workday, and what doesn’t.

A routine and a reliable internet connection rank high on the list, but specialty pens and cute stationery... not so much.

Talk to Me, Baby

First and foremost, you need to be reachable and continually communicating with your colleagues. This seems obvious, but if you’re hundreds of miles away from your colleagues, it’s harder than it sounds.

It’s worth remembering that as a remote worker, the entire workplace dynamic is different. There's no catching someone in the kitchen, or popping over to someone's desk! Now, I'm not saying to take your laptop into the toilet with you, but check in with colleagues as often as you would if you were all in the same office.

Chat applications, email and project management tools are all useful tools to have regular check-ins with your coworkers throughout the day. Don't forget that mobile phones exist too! Phone up your coworkers if they aren't answering your messages. Deadlines fly by, work gets duplicated, and projects get delayed if you aren't talking to your colleagues.

Rise and Shine

Create a daily routine for yourself - and stick to it! When working from home, it's SO tempting to check emails in bed and avoid showering until your lunch break. Having a morning routine, the same as you would if you worked outside of the home, is crucial to being mentally "in the zone" and doing your best work.

If your mornings are solid and you feel prepared to work a full day, it's easier for you to stick to your work hours. Unlike in a traditional job, you don't have a supervisor checking in with you about how your projects are going all the time. Your routine will help you manage your time and help you tackle crucial tasks.

Any remote worker will tell you there’s an ever-present danger of burnout. This is amplified if you sleep in, skip meals, and work sporadic hours. Without solid boundaries, it becomes harder to separate your work life from your home life.

Tidy Desk, Tidy Mind

Staying organised is vital to staying calm and focused on your work. Your desk is where you'll spend huge parts of your day, so clearing up clutter and having enough room to move is key.

Creating a space in the house that is dedicated to your work is essential to separating "home mode" and "work mode." This is something we know from experience, as my husband has worked remotely for the past five years. He has an office, and when he leaves it, he leaves his work behind.

That said, you don't need an entire separate room in your home to achieve this. Even if you work from your kitchen table, it's important to set it up for work while working. Be sure to put everything away when you're done so your table can be used for eating at the end of the day.

Adventure Is Out There

If you're tight on space, investigate hot desking and desk space for rent in your area. Day rates are generally reasonable if you need a day off from the home office, but a permanent desk could be just the ticket if you want to keep work away from home.

Cabin fever, distractions at home, totally stressed out? Consider visiting your local library, coffee shop, museum, or even the park to shake up your week. A change of scenery, and perhaps some company, can reinvigorate you.

Do you work from home? What works for you? Let us know your remote working secrets!

BY KATHERINE HUGHES, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMS.

How to nail the UX on your website

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Today we’ll dive into the impact of User Experience (UX) when implementing a slick, trending design to increase user retention.

Why is this important? Well, think about the marketing funnel. We've been providing tips to get potential users to you and your product, but if the UX ain't slick, the customers won't stick!

So, first things first:

What is UX?

You probably already know that UX stands for “user experience”. It is everything that happens to your users when they interact with your business or organisation via your website, application or online comms. It includes everything they see, hear and do, as well as their emotional reactions.

UX involves approaching the design of a website with your target audience firmly in mind. The finished product should be tailored to them and lead to more interactions and a lower bounce rate.

So, how important is it?

To put it simply: massively. UX is important because it tries to fulfil the user’s needs by providing positive experiences that keep them loyal to the product or brand. Additionally, a meaningful UX allows you to define customer journeys on your website or applications that are crucial for transactions.

If you’re not thinking about your user, then why are you creating the website or application? If you want to generate more business, this will depend on decisions made by your target audience, so knowing who will be using the site and designing it to suit their needs will reflect well on your company.

Neglecting UX can result in a sloppy website that people will not come back to, so developing an interaction-rich experience will drive users back to you.

What you can do to get it right

UX design can convert visitors into clients. Here are a few steps you can take to get it right when designing your website:

  • Interview your customers: UX is driven by how your customers use your website, so the best way to start is to reach out to potential customers and interview them. What do they wish to see on your website? What do they consider as great UX? Which websites do they like the most?

  • Watch your competitors: It is important to research what your competitors are doing. Check out their website, see which features work well and which ones can be improved or avoided.

  • Be clear and simple: Make it easy for users to find what they are looking for on your website. The clearer you are the better UX your website will provide.

  • Get feedback: Once you get your website done, go back to those initial customers you interviewed and get their feedback. Listen to what they have to say and work from that to improve the UX even more.

  • Watch someone use your website or product: With no guidance, what do they do? Are there any barriers or misconceptions you didn't spot? Record someone using your website as a test, and then LEARN.

  • Test & Learn. Refresh. Repeat.

If you do everything right there is a long list of benefits from lowering your support costs, to increasing your customer retention and market shares. Now get to work!

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips on communications and marketing here!

Instagram: Five top tips

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Since it was created in 2010, Instagram has turned into a powerful tool when it comes to PR and Comms. It is used by companies to promote their products and has introduced a whole new way of selling through influencers and their millions of followers. From humble beginnings, the app is now close to one billion global users - their own Instagram account has 257M followers!

We’ve compiled a few tips to get your Instagram game on. If you are an Insta aficionado, this post will add a beautiful string to your bow. If you are an Insta avoider, it’s time to change your attitude and realise all the potential that this social media platform has to offer.

1. Follow sprees - yes, please!

The follower and following lists for every profile are viewable if you click on them. People will be looking at the list of followers on popular accounts and will follow them. Make sure that the account they follow is yours! A great way to kick off your page is to let your friends know what your @ is and to also follow popular accounts. Recently, Instagram has made this incredibly easy for you too, as ‘suggested’ accounts now pop up after a new account is followed. Tap, tap, tap.

Follow selectively on your spree and always be mindful that the list of who you follow is public too. Not only are your followers notified in real time by the ‘activity’ section of the app, the number of accounts - and who they are - is embedded at the top of your profile.

2. Ratio(h no!)

The follower to following ratio of the account @Instagram is 257M:216. Dreamy. But if you didn’t create one of the most popular platforms in the world your numbers will look quite different.

Nevertheless, it is very important that you have a good ratio. A follow spree in your early days is fine and gets the ball rolling, but once you’re underway, do not hesitate to have a spring clean of your following list. It screams “spam” if you’re following 3,000 accounts but have 22 followers.

You can follow 3,000 accounts if you like, but do it on an account known as a burner. Have a public and professional profile with a clear-cut ratio and have a private one for all of your following desires.

3. Show it off or shut it away

There’s really no point in having your profile private if you are trying to build a following. As before, it is perfectly acceptable to have two accounts (one public and one private), and you should not see this negatively.

Having multiple accounts is becoming the norm, and it does not necessarily mean that you will spend double the time on the app. See it instead as intelligently streamlining your user experience (UX).

4. Meme me

Memes are a perfect antidote to the turbulent times that we are living in. They reflect popular culture and use genre conventions to create humour. If you haven’t caught the news recently, or gone out of your way to see the current viral videos, meme accounts accumulate the masses and condense it neatly for your consumption. Staying up to date with popular culture is essential to working in PR & Comms, and if you can do it with a smile, that’s even better. But, use with care, as apparently they are bad for our health.

It is interesting to note here that memes act as a catalyst to blurring conventions and genres between social media apps. For example, a huge proportion of Instagram meme accounts are simply screenshots from Twitter. Most of the time, those running the account will make no attempt to hide this.

5. Art is the literacy of the heart

Our final tip is to follow some obscure artists on Instagram. Just as a laugh a day is essential, there are millions of art galleries in your phone waiting for you to walk down their pixel-dripped halls and get your daily dose of beautiful artwork. In Comms, it’s essential to be reactively creative. This isn’t an overnight process, it’s a way of thinking that needs to be harnessed when it arises and embedded in your subconscious. Keeping your creative juices flowing by following creative Instagram accounts is key. Instagram is a perfect platform for the artistically inclined. Indeed, it is why it was originally created. Here are four accounts to follow to get you started: MeLoveMeALot, indg0, MLMA_Art and Love.Watts.

You do not have to just follow and begrudgingly ‘like’ the Instagram posts of your friends. Explore! Exploit the ‘suggested’ accounts feature, check who has commented on posts that you like… open Pandora’s Box for your Instagram experience.

Dive into the accounts of some new artists today - your eyes will thank you.

BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMS.