Harnessing the power of social media for small businesses

Written by June Dennis, Dean of Staffordshire Business School, Chartered Marketer and Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.


If you only have a small marketing budget, social media can seem like an ideal way to promote your product or service. Twenty years ago marketers could only dream of having access to such a huge audience so quickly.  However, where does one start?

Here are just four suggestions that could help you get more out of that limited budget:

Know your audience – it’s so obvious, but it’s really easy to make the simple mistake of taking your eye off the ball when it comes to ensuring your communication channels and messages are targeted at the appropriate audience(s).  We can get carried away by all the opportunities open to us that we forget what the purpose of engaging with social media actually was!  For example, why use Facebook if you’re primarily targeting a business-to-business audience?  (Sometimes, there’s good reason to do so, but you need to know why).  Spend time to make sure you know who your intended target audience is and what the key message is that you want to communicate with them.  Only then can you identify and choose the communication methods which best fit your message and audience.

Know your limitations – basically, don’t try to do too much!  Social media may seem very low cost compared to other forms of advertising or sales promotion, but there is still the cost of your time to factor in, at the very least.  It’s also very content hungry and if you commit, say, to writing a daily blog or tweeting several times a day, you may find you crash very soon.  Take note of what other businesses your size manage to do and try, where possible, to plan out your messages in advance.

Know how to create synergy – try to use the same or similar content more than once if you can. So, if you write a blog or post something on LinkedIn, can you direct people to it via Twitter? Could you use the copy for some promotional material or a newsletter? When you put something on YouTube, how can you maximise its use? It’s pretty obvious, but not everyone does it. Encourage customers and staff to send in stories which you can promote. I’ve found that people get a buzz from seeing something they’ve submitted being used or published and it creates a virtuous circle and they submit more material….

And, finally, think of ways you can work with others to create mutual benefit. A while back, I did an interview for a friend who was looking to increase traffic to her website via YouTube. As a result, I also sent links to my contact to her webpage and used the content of the interview to develop this blog. We both benefited and had some fun doing it.

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Jobs of the future

Written by Rachel Gowers, Associate Dean


By 2025 it’s estimated that we will lose over five million jobs to automation. Don’t worry though – jobs are getting more interesting with machines handling the more mundane tasks. Your time will be freed up from performing the repetitive tasks of the past so you can focus on more fun stuff like knowledge creation and innovation. Here are some of the jobs to look out for:

Data Analyst – Data analysts are in high demand across all sectors, such as finance, consulting, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, government and education. Data analysts translate numbers into plain English. Every business collects data, whether it’s sales figures, market research, logistics, or transportation costs. A data analyst’s job is to take that data and use it to help companies make better business decisions.

Forensic Accountant – As a forensic accountant, you’ll utilise your accountancy skills to investigate financial discrepancies and inaccuracies such as fraudulent activity, financial misrepresentation or misconduct and disputes. The role involves an integration of accounting, auditing and investigative skills. You will carry out meticulous investigations to uncover information, identify specific irregularities in financial documents and reports, quantify the exact losses and trace and recover illegitimate funds.

UX Analyst – User Experience (UX) roles involve delivering the best possible experience for the user of a website, with the aim of making the website as straightforward to use as possible. The term UX analyst arises as the role involves a lot of analysis of users’ behaviours and preferences in order to create the best experience for the user. As a UX analyst you will look at the content of websites, and also the design elements, such as colours and images. Within some companies you’ll focus on research skills and psychology, in others you’ll concentrate on design and in some you’ll fulfil a more technical IT role.

Content Creator – A content creator is someone who is responsible for the contribution of information to any media and most especially to digital media. They usually target a specific end-user/audience in specific contexts. Facebook hires thousands of content creators and editors every year to not only provide content but also to monitor what is happening on-line.

Talent Manager – A talent manager’s responsibilities include designing employee training programs, building succession plans and crafting an internal promotion process. To be successful in this role, you should have a solid understanding of full-cycle recruiting along with a strategic mind-set in order to develop a skilled workforce. Ultimately, you will build a talent pipeline that aligns with our hiring needs and business objectives.

Customer Experience Manager – Customer Experience Managers can be in any industry, here are responsibilities for a manager in the leisure and Theme Park Business. You’ll propose and implement strategies to constantly improve customer satisfaction and park development. Additionally, you may also oversee or take sole responsibility for the marketing of the park in order to generate business. You’ll be involved in all areas of the park, including rides, retail and food and beverages. Theme park managers may also be known as guest experience managers, rides and operations managers or attractions managers.

 

If you’re interested in a job of the future our Business and Accounting Degrees prepare you for these roles.

If you’re interested in a career in Leisure why not try the FdA in Visitor Attraction and Resort Management in partnership with Alton Towers.

Five things you didn’t know about Staffordshire Business School!

Written by Rachel Gowers, Associate Dean Recruitment


1.    We are one of the leading Business Schools in the world for Social Media. We’ve won the Edurank ‘Best Twitter Performance’ award twice in the Business School category (beating Harvard into second place) and we’ve also come in the top 20 Business School blogs in the Top 20 Business Education Blogs And Websites To Follow in 2018

2.    Our Marketing Management course includes exemptions from The Chartered Institute of Marketing and also Google Garage Exams, covering SEO, PPC and loads of other practical skills so you can start to build your own digital marketing campaign straight away.

3.    The Events Management Degree is a top ten course* according to The Complete University Guide League Tables 2019. We’ve also added some new modules this year like ‘experiential marketing’ and ‘managing the visitor experience’ which mean you get out and about straight away and start working with companies to design their systems.  You’ll also get to go on an overseas residential in your second year – last year we went to Iceland.


4.   
Business degrees are the same wherever you go – right? Wrong! Our Business Degree covers topics you won’t find anywhere else, we worked with employers to come up with them.  You’ll study Business Agility, Big Data, Authentic leadership and Customer Experience Strategy (CX) – don’t know what these are? Google them – these are vital topics for 21st Century leaders.

5.    Accounting and Finance degrees at Staffordshire Business School offer more than just a degree.  You will also gain exemptions from three professional bodies meaning you can fast-track to professional qualifications when you’ve finished you’re degree. Plus we were ranked 1st for ‘Students Satisfied with Teaching’ in the Guardian League Tables 2018.

As if five wasn’t enough, did you know we are the first Business School in the UK to launch an Esports degree…don’t know what this is? Find out here.

*ranked 7th in the ‘Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism’ category

Thinking of joining us? Find out more about our courses in clearing

 

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Does the use of social media within universities promote employability?

This blog discusses whether the inclusion of social media within university courses is supportive of higher education’s employability agenda, and if so how can it be assessed?

The Department for Education forecasts a professional and technical skill gap which will rank the UK in the lowest quartile of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries by 2020.  The demand for graduates in the workplace remains high and is forecast to increase in the professional sector despite employers being dissatisfied with graduate employability skills, particularly in literacy, problem solving and work experience. The issues of graduate employability are further pronounced within the financial professional sector with nearly a third of employers requiring subject specific degrees. Conversely one fifth of graduates remain in long term nonprofessional employment.

So if the skill gap presents the largest challenge for Higher Education, how does the integration of social media within teaching help our students?

The increasing use of social media in all walks of life has clearly also impacted on the lives of academics and  students alike. The term ‘social media’ is often used to describe the variety of technology based platforms (online and offline) used to communicate and collaborate.  It is sometimes also used when discussing technology in general terms.

There is an assumed duty within higher education that students should be exposed to the technology which is in use in the workplace but this presents problems in that such technologies are cyclical and often become unpopular over time.  Given the planning timescale for course and module design within universities, it is therefore important that the teaching and assessment of social media should be generic in nature with the focus on the functionality and benefits of such technology.

In order to make an informed decision as to the arguments for the inclusion of social media for the assessment of students from an employability perspective, we need to understand the value of this medium to industry.  Communication, Collaboration, Problem Solving, Social interaction and networking are often regarded as work based competences which are highly valued by employers and therefore it is important that these are incorporated into the design of social media teaching and assessment, methods of testing, regardless of what technology is used.  In the modern workplace, the practical use and familiarly with technologies such as online conferencing and collaboration, webinars and Microsoft and Google packages is equally important and there is a case for assessing these skills alongside academic competences.

Although often impractical in large universities, a flexible course design to accommodate a variety of industry sectors will unquestionably benefit the student.  For example the successful launch of the BA (Hons) Esports degree at Staffordshire University has resulted in a tailored programme of study specifically including the use of social media for marketing and event design in the gaming sector

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) adapts a real time problem based approach to their assessment to ensure that students have sufficient depth of knowledge to apply to real industry problems. The technology itself is inherently part of the assessed activity in that if students are not familiar with the technology then they will be unable to complete the assessment. This has the potential to be expanded through the use of social media itself as a method of assessment.

So the ultimate question is whether the use of technology is appropriate and beneficial both to the student and the employer.

Mark Wordley is Lecturer and Course Leader for the Accounting & Finance Courses at Staffordshire University and is responsible for work placements within the Business School.