There are certain words that when included in email subject lines can have a detrimental effect.  They can result in emails not being opened but worse than that they can cause newsletter subscribers to unsubscribe, mark your email as spam, or your email may never reach the recipient and instead get blocked by spam filters.

According to Mailchimp the four words (or phrases) that should be avoided at all costs are…

Source Mailchimp

Does this surprise you? I know I’ve included one of these in a recent email subject line, have you?

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Facebook Offers

It’s always been quite a challenge to offer coupons or special offers via Facebook, you can of course create an image and ask people to show it to you on your phone, create a custom tab with a link to a download but it’s not simple.  I was delighted when last week Facebook finally released their ‘Offers’ product.  Now page owners can simply set up an offer and for a small fee it will travel around Facebook as users avail of it.  Each time someone claims your offer it is posted to the news feeds of those who follow them. I thought I’d give it a bit of a road test.

Setting up an offer

Getting started is quite straightforward and your first offer is free so you have a chance to play. At the moment you need to have a minimum of 400 Likes in order to run an offer.

– Click on ‘Offer,Event+’ in the status update bar on your page

– Choose ‘Offer’

– Choose the type of offer you want to set up

‘In Store Only’ means that people will simply bring the email they receive from Facebook in to store or show you it on their mobile device in order to redeem it.  You have the option of integrating a bar code into the offer to work with your cash register if necessary.

‘In Store & Online’ This allows customers to either redeem in store or to add a redemption code to a website in order to avail of your offer. You will be prompted to add a web address and a code if you go for this option.

‘Online Only’ As above but this only works on your website.  You will need to add a code that people can input into your website to avail of the offer.

– Add a short description of your offer.  Try and make this short, to the point but compelling.

– Next choose the number of offers you want to make available

I would highly recommend you limit the offer to a certain amount of customers so that you know you are able to honour all those who avail of it.  Look at this offer from a Dublin hotel. I wonder are they going to be able to honour all 21,000+ of them.

– Add an expiry date for the offer.  It’s unclear as yet if this is the expiry date for the offer being promoted on Facebook or the expiry date of redeeming it.  I took it to be the expiry on promotion.

– Next add clear terms and conditions.  Think about who isn’t eligable for the offer, if it needs to be redeemed within a certain time period or if there are any times that it can’t be claimed.

– Now add a thumbnail image for your offer.  This should be eye-catching so that your offer stands out from all the others appearing on news feeds.

– The image has to be square so using an image taken on Instagram works really well.

– Finally you need to set a budget,  your first offer is free but Facebook takes you through the process all the same.

– Click ‘Share’ to publish your offer to your Timeline

Here’s mine once published

If you find that you have made a mistake, if too many people are claiming your offer or if you just change your mind it’s easy to stop it and delete it from your wall.  Just click on the pencil on the top right hand side of your post.

What I learnt

1. Offers are great for tangible things. The ones I’ve seen shared most are packages like the hotel one or something offered for free like a cookie with a coffee.  Discounts can work but are less aspirational and in the age of Groupon I think they have to be significant.  Facebook recommends a minimum of 20%.

2. Offers are popular at the moment and sell out quickly. My 10 were gone in a couple of hours.  This is great  but will it last.  I remember a similar flurry of activity when ‘Questions’ first appeared but these days it can be hard to get any responses to a question posted via the questions app.

3. I know I’ve said it above but be careful that you don’t offer more than you can fulfil!

4. I don’t know who availed of my offer and there’s no facility to find out. For in store offers this could prove tricky if you want to keep track of who has redeemed them.  For that reason in future I will use the ‘Online’ option every time.  Even if you don’t have a website or aren’t able to update it easily it’s simple to set up a Form via Google docs and direct people there to redeem the offer.  The advantage of this method is that you are able to collect more information about your new customers in order to give them more value.  For example, it would be great for me to get people to leave me links to their websites and social media pages so that I can tailor the sessions before we meet.

5. If it’s a really limited offer, as mine was, consider adding it to the main text. I chose to only offer 10 consultations and by putting this in the main description it hopefully encouraged people to redeem quickly and created a bit of urgency to take advantage of it.

6. Budget! I was offering free social media consults.  This is a lead generation tool for me so €8 for 10 qualified leads seemed like good value.  However you need to consider what your entire offer is costing you.  Divide €8 (or whatever budget you go for) by the number of deals you are offering and then add how much the discount is costing you.  Obviously if you are still selling above your break even point the offer may not cost you anything apart from the Facebook budget so it could well be a very cost effective way to gain new customers.

If you’ve tried Facebook offers I’d be really interested in hearing about your experiences so leave your stories in the comments.

Facebook insights have become fantastically indepth over the last few years.  This is wonderful for marketers as we can see so much more about our likers, we can make sure we are reaching the right people, we can see what content works and tie this back to our business goals.  However they can be complex to navigate and that’s where this weeks cool tool comes in handy.  Minilytics takes your existing insight information and does the work for you, giving you analysis on the best time of day to post, the best type of content to post, how much of your audience you are actually reaching and information on the age and gender of your audience.

Here’s how it works:

Go to the Minilytics website. Log in with Facebook

Give permission to the app to access your Facebook info (basic info & email address)

Click ‘Go To App’

Allow additional permissions (manage your pages, access page Insights)

Before choosing what sort of information you want to see  you need to tell Minilytics what page you want to analyse. To choose a page click the ‘change page’ cog on the top right hand side of the screen.

Once you have selected the page you have a choice of what information you want to see; ‘Best time to post’, ‘Best type of post’, ‘How many people are your reaching’ & ‘Who are your fans’

Click on one of the questions on the screen or click on a menu on the left hand side of the page – here’s my results.

What I love about this app is that it tells you how it has analysed your data to come up with a result.  For example, it has told me that the best time of day to post to my page is 1pm, it tells me that it has come to this conclusion by analysing the last 100 comments on page posts.  What doesn’t seem to correlate is the actual time.  It tells me that the average top time for people to comment on my page is 12 noon, yet it’s telling me to post at 1pm?

**update – Jeff from Page Lever has been in touch in the comments to explain this anomaly, The 12 noon refers to GMT but I’m currently in BST timezone so the 1pm represents local time for my best posting time.**

There’s nothing unique here, the application is just analysing your existing analytics and presenting the results in a easier to digest format.  It’s this format that is what is wonderful about this app, it’s a massive timesaver, particularly if you pay close attention to your insights. I’d recommend that you use this tool on a regular basis, either weekly or monthly, in order to improve and test what works best for your page.

As a bonus the app also creates a report for you to download and share with your team.

It’s worth mentioning that this free tool is provided by PageLever who offer a paid Facebook analytics tool.

Did you find this app useful? Did you find the results surprising? Will it make you take a better look at your Facebook statistics in future?

Delight Your Brand Ambassadors

A bottle of Champagne arrived in the post for me recently. I was delighted, it was unexpected and of course Champagne just makes you feel happy.  Here’s how and why it happened and how being delightful could benefit your company.

Last month, as regular readers might know, I attended Social Media World Forum in London.  I will always Tweet at a conference like this, firstly I know there is information on the day that I will want to share with my followers because it is useful, secondly I get to meet people at the event itself. I am always aware however that I might be flooding the Twitter stream with my tweets so try and hold back, only sharing the very best information.  The event was great, I met lots of new people both in person and on Twitter and I learnt loads too.

A few days after my return I got a Tweet from one of the event sponsors Synthesio saying that as I’d Tweeted so much they were going to send me some Champagne, could I DM my address.  I was sure once they found out I was based in Ireland they would change their mind but a week or so later the Champagne arrived in the post along with a really handy little book  ‘The Quick Start Guide To Social Media Monitoring’ (pictured above).

Surprising people like this is a great way to build brand ambassadors, you can be sure every time I see the Synthesio logo now I’m going to remember the champagne and how nice it was to get such a surprise.  I’ve even looked into what the company do, at the conference I was aware of their branding but didn’t look any closer. Now I know the next time a client is looking for paid brand monitoring their name will make it onto my recommended list.

How can you be delightful?

So how can you be delightful? Take a look at the most engaged users on your social media channels, why not treat them to something? Don’t make it a competition, don’t even announce it in advance, surprise them and reward them for their loyalty.  A discount voucher isn’t enough, it should be something tangible.  If you sell a product you could send them a sample and ask for their feedback, if it’s a service can you offer them a short consultation for free.  If you want to be really delightful why not research your influencers a bit further.  You can find out quite a lot from a Facebook profile or by reading a few tweets. Try to discover what they’re in to and reward them with something that matches those interests. If they are a reader buy them a book from the genre they are interested in, if they are a wine lover find a great bottle that they will love, if they are a foodie  an artisan food product would go down a storm.

The result will be a very happy person who will have an even stronger connection to your brand and will talk about you even more pushing your brand awareness and encouraging more referrals.

Have you ever delighted your customers? Have you ever been delighted by a spontaneous gift from a comapny?  I’d love to hear your stories.

You have probably noticed that I think there are more important statistics than your Like or Follower count.  However you do need to build a following, if you don’t no one will see your posts or know you exist.  Here are some tips on building your Likes on Facebook, including some suggested by my Facebook community.

Ask – The Wise Words Method

At the February KLCK Bloggers meeting Mona Wise from Wise Words shared her method for building her Like count.  She went from 0 to  over 3,000 in a year.

Her method was simple but effective, she asked 12 friends to ‘Like’ the page and asked them to ask 12 of their friends.

If you are going to try this choose your 12 friends carefully, who is most likely to help you and who is most likely to pass your message on to other friends?  You also need to make sure that you are clear about what you are asking.  It’s easy for us to forget that people may not necessarily know what ‘Liking’ a page means.  Include simple instructions in your email or Facebook message asking people to click the ‘Like’ button at the top of your page, and don’t forget to include the link.

Don’t be tempted to ask people twice, if they don’t respond you could be risking a friendship for persistently asking for a Like.

Of course she also offers great content. But more on this later.

Memes – Shareable Images

You must have noticed the trend over the last few months for meme’s or sharable images.  These are photographs with captions that inspire, entertain or are just a bit of fluffy fun.  Get them right and they spread like wildfire across Facebook.  How does this help you get Likes?  If you create a meme it will always link back to your Facebook page.  In the description area when you upload the photo make sure to add a bit of information about you and why you are sharing it.  You can always include a link back to your Facebook page in the description too.  Here’s a video I made on how to add a link to Images.

It’s easy to create your own Meme’s.  There are lots of free generators out there.  I’m a fan of, it allows you to upload pictures and add captions.  A great tip from Úna-Minh Caomhánach is to make sure that they have a mass audience.  She tried a few Lord of The Rings memes that didn’t reach as far, probably due to a small LOTR literate audience.

Once you’ve  created your Meme you will need to ask for the Like or the share initially, once your Likers get used to sharing you won’t need to any more, they will do it automatically.  Which brings me on to…

Ask for Likes and Shares

This is something I feel uncomfortable doing but it does work.  When a user interacts with a post on your page their comment or like appears on the Ticker on their friends pages.  In some cases it also appears on the news-feeds of their friends.  This means your updates have the potential to spread way beyond your existing community.  So ask people to ‘Like if you agree’ ‘Share if you like this’ ‘Tell us if you know someone like this’.

Try to vary your call to actions and don’t ask for a share on every post as people will soon get tired of it and think you’re begging.

Add a Like Box to your website

Like boxes are fantastic.  You’ve probably seen them on websites, filled with pictures of the people who Like the Facebook page.  The advantage of a Like box over a button or text link is that people don’t need to leave your website in order to Like your page.  I made a video tutorial on this recently and Dee Sewell from Greenside up followed it.  According to her comment on my Facebook page she’s attracted 29 new likes in the last month since adding the box.


Competitions are a fantastic way to attract people to your page.  Remember you must abide by the Facebook promotional guidelines when running a contest.  I always recommend using the Short Stack App (affiliate link). It’s easy to create pages there and there’s lots of cool bits and pieces you can add on to encourage sharing.

Sweepstakes style contests are the best at attracting new likes, these are contests where contestants just enter their name and email address to go into a draw.  The less someone needs to do to enter the more ‘Likes’ you will attract.

You need to push word out about your competition way beyond your Facebook page, posting about it on Twitter and letting your email list know really helps drive traffic

Email Digest

A great suggestion from Greg Fry.  When you’re sending out your email newsletter include a digest of your Facebook posts encouraging others to Like it.

When people can see you’re adding valuable content and that you have something to offer they are far more likely to see why they should Like your page.

Great content

This should really be at the top of your list.  If you are producing good and engaging content people will want to join your page.  Think hard about what will appeal to your target market and be creative.  Don’t be tempted just to copy everyone else.  Once you’ve decided what it is you will do on Facebook tell people, tell them what the advantage is of joining your page.  For me it’s that I share useful hints and tips on using social media for business, what’s yours?

Fan only offers

Do you have something special that you can offer to just your Facebook Likes?  Something that would be worth clicking that Like button for?  If you’re a retailer it could be first look at new products, exclusive products or a discount store.  If you’re a consultant an e-book, a free consultation.  Make sure what your offering is unique to Facebook, if you try and pull the wool over people’s eyes the will find out!

Email signatures and printed matter

Finally, one of the most simple things you can do and one of the things that so many people overlook.  Include links to your social media pages in your email signature, on your business cards and on flyers and other printed matter.

Do you have any hot tips for getting more Likes?  Anything obvious that I’ve missed?


I’ve been reading Brian Solis’s blog for a long time.  It’s always full of great analytical information that challenges your way of thinking and presents what seem like common sense ways of approaching marketing in the social media age.  It was for this reason that I was keen to pick up a copy of his latest book ‘The End Of Business As Usual’ and I wasn’t disappointed.

I’m a big believer that whatever applies to big business can be translated to the way smaller businesses work and this book is full mind changing ideas that can be applied to us all.  It can be quite a heavy read in places but if you persist there are huge takeaways.

Social media marketers will tell you that you need to know and understand your customers and present them with what they want.  This seems like common sense but it’s often harder to do than it sounds.  Brian shows us how to segment our audience so that we can really understand them, he talks about connected consumers, those of us who rely on technology and social tools to make our purchasing decisions, it is clear that these people will be the most important consumers for businesses in the future.  Most connected consumers are ‘Millenials’, also known as generation Y, these are people born between the mid 70’s and the late 90’s.

He takes a look at the way technology has changed the way we communicate. We must have all been at a table full of people who instead of communicating with each other are conversing online via smart phones or tablets, this is becoming a part of everyday life.  As marketers instead of fighting this we need to understand and even embrace it.

The real message of the book is that if businesses are going to survive as the Millennials grow up we will need to adapt, we will need to look at the new tools that allow us to communicate with our customers and craft our marketing to serve these consumers.  The book is packed with inspirational case studies demonstrating how companies are already adapting, already using tools and evolving with the connected consumers.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, it took me a while to get through it but with each chapter I found there was something I could learn from and bring into my own marketing.  It appealed to my inner nerd but I think you’d have to be a nerd or deeply interested in the psychology of marketing and social media to get into the book.  It’s not an easy read and I found myself hiding away in my bedroom so as not to be distracted whilst delving in, maybe this is a sign of the short attention span common in the connected consumer!

Here’s my key takeaways from ‘The End Of Business As Usual’

1. Segment your customers, accept they might not all consume information the same way.  Some will use social tools, some email, some you will need to make personal contact with via phone or face to face meetings.

2. Learn from your consumers, adapt and grow with them, find out what they need from you and use this to create valuable customer experiences.

3. Reward influencers and amplifiers as they will help carry your message further.  Craft shareable experiences or social objects that will assist them.

4. Be willing to pull your entire business apart in order to better serve your customers, in the future the power of the customer is going to be huge, we need to adapt and change now in order to survive.

Have you read this book?  What was your top takeaway?

We follow so many people on Twitter that it can be hard to keep up with the people that really matter to us.  Customers, friends, competitors and peers are all important people for us to follow but unless we can cut out the noise their tweets could get lost in our streams.
This is where Twitter lists come in.  They allow us to filter content and just see the specific users we want to at one time.  They help us build relationships.  This week I show you how to set up Twitter lists.

We follow so many people on Twitter that it can be hard to keep up with the people that really matter to us.  Customers, friends, competitors and peers are all important people for us to follow but unless we can cut out the noise their tweets could get lost in our streams.

This is where Twitter lists come in.  They allow us to filter content and just see the specific users we want to at one time.  They help us build relationships.  This week I show you how to set up Twitter lists.

This is a belated post for Blog Action Day that fell on a Sunday this year. I’m rarely online on a Sunday and even though I had a nagging feeling that I was missing something I couldn’t pinpoint it until today. So apologies for my tardiness, but this is what I would have said.

The economic slow down in Ireland has affected the food industry here in many ways. We’ve seen restaurants close down, a resurgence of nostalgia foods – most recently old-fashioned sweets – and a whole host of new artisan producers rise. Cooking has become a massive pass time. People may not be eating out as much but there is more cooking going on in the home. I’m not sure we can blame all of this on the re**ssion but maybe there are positives we can take away from it.

Social media and blogging have become a great cost effective way for food producers, venues and enthusiasts to communicate with their customers. Sites like Any Given Food and the Irish Food Bloggers Association have sprung up and events like Savour Kilkenny have become massive social media events as well as physical events.

So how can food businesses leverage social media?


Restaurants and cafes have the opportunity to engage customers on premises. Mobile applications like Foursquare and Foodspotting may not have a huge reach in Ireland, but the users they do have are pretty passionate about utilising them. Both of these applications can be linked to Twitter and Facebook so users have the opportunity of spreading the love beyond their fellow food geeks and into the Twittosphere. By offering deals for checking in or becoming a mayor of the venue you are encouraging more visits and more shares from these hardcore users.

Incentivise your customer to stay in touch. Have you dropped your business card into the bowl in Wagamama? I know I have and I’m always delighted to get the deals that arrive in my inbox because of it. But can you be more creative? I love this example from Jay Baur’s Convince And Convert blog of a sandwich bar that uses QR codes to get you signed up to Facebook whilst waiting in the queue.

Food producers

Recipes are hugely popular online. And what better way to promote your product than sharing recipes that require its use. Text recipes are great but putting a face on the brand by making a video could be even better. As often as possible include a photograph as this will get your followers tastebuds working.

Incentivise customers to Like your Facebook page by offering exclusive taster packs in a competition. Take a look at Keith Bohanna’s Irish Artisan Food Producers Facebook page for a collection of really good giveaways. (If a little out of date).

Feature the suppliers of your product and link to their Facebook pages, twitter accounts or blogs.

Tell the story of your product, what inspired you to create it, people love to hear stories and will feel more connected with you and your brand if you share.

Ask your fans to review the product – have a competition for the best review or recipe including it.  Again this gives your potential customers some ownership of what you do and they will be delighted to see their recipes featured on your Facebook page or blog.

Food writers

Recipes again! give a way a little bit of what you have to offer. Blogging and sharing recipes from other social media users is a great way to connect with people and give a taste of what you do. I’ve always loved Kieran Murphy’s Ice cream Ireland blog. The recipes are mouth watering and when I saw Murphy’s Ice Cream shops start to appear in Dublin I was straight in to try some of the flavours he’d been talking about.  Two food writers Mona Wise from Wise Words and Marian Hearne from Dairy Free & Spelt Living are launching cook books and their Facebook pages and blogs are great advertisements for what will be inside.

My Top tips

Connect with as many other Irish food businesses as you can; through Twitter, through Facebook business pages, through blog comments and anywhere else you find them online.

Tweet during as many food events and TV shows as possible. #rtemc (RTE Masterchef) for example was a great way to connect with other passionate foodies.

Share – don’t just post about yourself, share the love, link to other foodie Facebook pages, share their recipes and their blog posts. Interact and converse to become part of the community.

Recipes, recipes, recipes! People love recipes so whether they are your own or someone else’s you are sharing, make sure people know that your page or blog is the place to come for the best recipes within your category.

Do you have any tips to add? I know that I must have missed some. I’d love to hear what has worked or not worked for you.



#Krocomm is Ireland’s free e-commerce event happening in Dublin on Tuesday 4th October at Kro HQ.  There are lots of great speakers, clinics and giveaways.  Book here.

Back at the beginning of the year there was a lot of buzz about f-commerce.  In other words selling directly from a shop on your Facebook page.  It’s true more people are looking to Facebook to start a shop, it’s also true that lots of large brands seem to be embracing it but is it right for your small business?  How else can Facebook help you sell?  These are topics I’ll be discussing at the #krocomm e-commerce conference next week but here’s a sneak preview of my presentation.

Why sell from Facebook?

Facebook is a massive community, research has shown that Facebook fans are loyal customers who are more likely to buy online.  If you can connect with these potential customers you could be building powerful brand advocates who will not only buy from you but also recommend you to friends.

Buying online is all about trust, you are asking someone to hand over their credit card details so it’s important that however you choose to sell, your web presence oozes professionalism and trust.  If you don’t have the budget to create a great e-commerce website straight away Facebook is often a better option.  There are several applications that are simple to add to your Facebook page that make setting up a shop easy.  Two Irish based ones are Owjo and VendorShop and there are lots of other options out there.  However simply adding a shop to Facebook doesn’t ensure trustworthiness.  Make sure your page is designed well, add as much detail in the info page as possible and be easy to contact offline.

Once you’ve set up your shop the same rules apply as with any e-commerce venture.  Customers won’t just come to you, you will need to attract them.  One of the biggest disadvantages of f-commerce that I can see is that people who ‘Like’ your page often just visit once, once they’ve clicked the ‘Like’ button they rely on seeing your updates on their newsfeed.  Having a shop tab as part of your page means that you will need to get them back to your page, you will need to drive them to your shop and entice them to buy when they get there.  This is true of both f-commerce and e-commerce.

So how do you encourage that purchase using social media?  I’m not going to talk about general strategy here and it’s important to remember that these tips will only work as part of a full Facebook or social media campaign.


I’m not sure if it’s a sign of the times but consumers don’t expect to pay full price for anything anymore.  If you want their attention you are going to have to discount occasionally.  Creating offers exclusively for your Facebook community is a great way to push them over the edge into a purchase.  You can simply add a discount code in your updates or as an image as these are more likely to attract the attention of your fans or you could create a customised page with vouchers.  If you are a bricks and mortar shop give your fans a fun phrase they have to say when they come into your shop, this will create a bit of fun instore too.


Every Christmas a member of my extended family gets an invite to a special shopping night in Brown Thomas, they give her a glass of champagne when she arrives and the shop is less busy so she’s able to shop in peace and is guaranteed a personal service.  She’s a loyal Brown Thomas customer and this experience makes her feel special.  They are ensuring her loyalty for the future.  You can replicate this on Facebook.

Why not offer an exclusive to your fans, if you have a new product or a new range of products give your Facebook  fans the chance to buy 24 hours before the general public.  Not only will this encourage them to buy, it will create a buzz around your launch.


We tend to buy from shops that are recommended to us by our friends and I for one know I research a product online before I buy it.  Reviews are therefore an essential part of any e or f-commerce site.  If someone is able to see frank customer reviews next to the product you are selling they are more likely to buy.  Another Irish company LouderVoice makes the process of getting and sharing reviews easy.


If you sell something make it easy to share.  What happens when someone buys from you? Do they have the option to share their purchase with their friends on Facebook? On Twitter? The easier you make it to share the further the word will spread about what you are selling.


When I asked people on Facebook would they buy from a Facebook shop most people hadn’t encountered one.  This is probably one of the biggest barriers you will come against.  There are good examples out there.

Young British Designers have a beautiful shop and I’m informed they only sell on Facebook, there’s no website attached.

Handmade Jewellery store Dink Design are using Owjo to sell from their Facebook page and I think it looks quite attractive and very trustworthy.

Another Irish company Puddleducks have a store powered by Payvment. Again it looks trustworthy and it has those all important ‘share on Facebook’ buttons.

Pampers have a Facebook shop but it differs from the others as links take you away from Facebook and onto their own website.

So what do you think?  Would you buy on Facebook? Have you tried selling there?  What sort of results have you had?  I’d love to hear your experiences so that I can add it to my presentation next week.