The History And Influence Of The Hashtag

Blogs, Social Media

I came across this fantastic infographic this morning, which was sent to me by the gurus at Visually. It’s a great example of the power of visual content (the fact I’m sharing it now is testament to that). Infographics are a fun and visually appealing way of creating relevant and engaging content that inspires your audience.

What information could you turn into an infographic? Visually makes infographic creation easy – just head over to their site and follow the cues, or get in touch with me if you need a hand.

The No.1 Mistake Brands Make On Social Media

Blogs, Social Media

The Number One Mistake Brands Make

One of the first rules I learned about sales was to focus on building relationships.

It makes sense, right?

If we know and trust someone, we feel more comfortable buying a product or service from that person. It’s the same with brands. Our market must have a relationship with us before they make a purchasing decision.

So, what’s the no.1 mistake brands are making on social media?

You guessed it, selling. Or rather, failing to focus on building relationships before introducing a sale.

This is why content marketing – the art of creating and sharing personalised, branded content – is not only important, it’s the foundation of social media success.

Here are 5 simple tips for creating content your audience will love:

1. Problem solve. Think about the most common questions your customers have and write the answers as a blog post or series of blog posts.

2. Offer tips. Create content that offers relevant advice. For example, if your brand manufactures health products, you could create an image showing the health benefits of drinking enough water.

3. Use tools. The Google AdWords Keywords tool can tell you which keywords are searched more (or less) than others based on broad, exact, or phrase-match volumes. Look at what people are searching for and create content around those keywords.

4. Become your customer. Create a customer persona and use this to identify your target market’s interests. Ask, what are my customers passions and hobbies? What would they love to hear about? For example, if your company sells camping gear, you could write a list of your region’s top 5 camping spots or healthy and convenient camping food.

5. Listen. Social media listening tools can help you to pick up what others are saying about your brand, your products and services, and industry news. You can also follow your competitors. This is an effective way to pick up trending topics.

Social media has changed the way we do business – and in turn, the way we sell. Content marketing is about providing value, listening, engaging in a two-way conversation and problem solving…that has to be a good thing, right?

So, the next time you go to post something on your Facebook business page, ask yourself – am I sharing information that resonates with my tribe? Or, am I ‘over-selling’?

What other mistakes do you see brands making on social media? What tips do you have for overcoming these?  

An Easy Tool For Managing Brand Reputation On Twitter

Blogs, Social Media


I have just discovered a delightfully convenient tool which I think those of you using Twitter for business are going to LOVE.

If you spend time searching for mentions of your company, brand or products on Twitter, you will love Twilert!

With Twilert, you can set up real-time alerts, which let you know whenever anyone is talking about you or your business. Here’s a wee vid which explains it…

How does it work?

You give Twilert your brand specific keywords, hashtags, brand names, products or anything else related to your business. Whenever one of the words you entered is ‘tweeted’, you will receive an email…instantly!

No need to spend hours on Twitter searching for mentions – Twilert works in the background, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to monitor who’s talking about your brand.

It also enables you to narrow down the results by geographic location to keep an eye on competitors’ business, as well as newly launched products and branded hashtags.

If you are using Twitter as a customer service mechanism this sweet little invention will be even more of an advantage.

Are you using Twilert?
What Twitter specific tools do you find useful for managing brand reputation? 

BlueBerryIT Scoops Chamber of Commerce Business Award

Blogs, Client news

Cunningham Communications’ client BlueBerryIT has been announced as the winner of the MediaWorks Medium Business Award at the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce 2014 Business Awards.

The win caps a year of significant growth and development for the company, which provides a wide range of IT support services for businesses of all sizes.

BlueBerryIT’s milestones over the previous 12-month period have included:

– An 85% increase in revenue.
– The opening of a new office in Blenheim.
– Almost doubling staff numbers.
– Selection as an Apple Authorised Reseller for Business.
– Announcement as HP Gold Partners for Printers and Personal Systems.
– Becoming members of the exclusive Microsoft Cloud Champions Club.

“We have had a fantastic year in terms of not only surpassing our business goals, but also being able to provide more services and support for our clients, such as our announcement as Apple for Business Resellers, which came after eighteen months of planning, negotiating and evaluation,” says Richard Butler, Technical Director at BlueBerryIT.

Congratulations to Richard and the team at BlueBerryIT!

The BlueBerryIT team after receiving their award. Photo by Harold Mason Photography.

The BlueBerryIT team after receiving their MediaWorks Medium Business Award at the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce 2014 Business Awards.  Photo by Harold Mason Photography.

Tasman Bay Food Group Claim Gold At 2014 NZ Food Awards

Client news

A client of Cunningham Communications, Tasman Bay Food Group, has claimed gold for their iconic Juicies brand, after being announced as winners of the Frozen Award at the illustrious 2014 NZ Food Awards.

The Nelson-based food manufacturing and distribution company was placed as a finalist in three awards categories for the development of their Juicies Tubes range.

The new range was created as part of the company’s growth strategy in export markets, and is already being enjoyed by consumers in Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.

Marina Hirst Tristram, Executive Director at Tasman Bay Food Group, says winning the award is a significant accolade.

“We were thrilled to place as finalists in three categories, so being announced as the overall winner of the Frozen Award is an incredibly exciting development,” says Hirst Tristram.

ACCOLADE: Tasman Bay Food Group general manager Martyn Barlow and marketing manager Marina Hirst Tristram won the best frozen product with their Juicies product. Image source: Nelson Mail.

ACCOLADE: Tasman Bay Food Group general manager Martyn Barlow and marketing manager Marina Hirst Tristram won the best frozen product with their Juicies product. Image source: Nelson Mail.

“Juicies have been a popular feature in school canteens throughout New Zealand for decades and are synonymous with quintessential Kiwi summers. We continuously strive to improve and evolve our products, brands and business strategy, so being recognised with this award for the success of our new Juicies Tubes range is fantastic.”

For more information about the NZ Food Awards or to view the full list of awards winners go to

5 Tips For Creating Engaging Blog Content


When it comes to business blogging, one of the most common questions my clients ask me is – “where will I get my content from?”

Although generating a minimum of two interesting, relevant and engaging blogs per week may seem like a daunting task, there are some easy ways to keep your content funnel flowing.

Here are my 5 top tips for creating engaging blog content:

1. Become a problem solver. Think about your blog’s target audience and the type of problems they have which need to be solved, then write blogs which focus upon answering those commonly asked questions.

2. Announce news. Industry announcements, new product developments and organisational updates are a good way to show you have your finger on the pulse whilst keeping your audience informed.

3. Survey your competitors. Check out your fellow bloggers sites for ideas. Sometimes all it takes is a keyword or catchy headline to inspire a winning angle.

4. Interview influencers. Write a list of influential people or industry experts who resonate with your audience and invite them to be interviewed. Humans are inquisitive beings – we love knowing what other people are up to. In my experience, these are often the blogs which receive the most traffic.

5. Ask your audience. Ask your clients and readers what topics they would like you to blog about. Take a colleague out for lunch and brainstorm ideas. Send a tweet asking for ideas. Social media is all about engagement, so don’t be afraid to embrace your crowd.

Do you have any tips to add to the list above? If so, I’d love to hear from you – please leave your comments below.

5 Reasons Why Leaders Need a Digital Presence


Amy Cunningham - Director, Cunningham Communications:

A guest post I had the pleasure of writing for my client, Suzi McAlpine.

Originally posted on The Leader's Digest - by Suzi McAlpine, Executive Coach:

Today’s guest poster is Amy Cunningham – the other half of The Leader’s Digest. A PR Consultant with a penchant for social and content marketing, whilst I write the posts, Amy is a whizz at editing, optimisation and promotion. 

When I first met Suzi, she was a self-confessed techno-phobe.

Her business Facebook and Twitter pages were non-existent.

LinkedIn was like a weird ornamental Christmas gift. It was there, but she didn’t really understand it.

As am sure you’ll agree, she’s come a long way since then. Suzi is now exhales tweets with every breath, pumps out hashtags quicker than a crossfit WOD and is chairperson of the Blogaholics Association. OK, slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Establishing a strong social voice can be hugely beneficial for leaders today.

Here are just 5 reasons why leaders need a digital presence:

1. Networking and collaboration.LinkedIn and Twitter are a great way to connect with influencers and…

View original 336 more words

Twitter Tool for Bloggers


Here’s one for my fellow bloggers wanting their posts to reach a wider audience.

I have been using a handy little tool which makes it really easy for people to tweet your post once they’ve read it, thereby increasing readership.

Sound interesting?

It’s called clicktotweet

Tweet: Twitter tool for bloggers @clicktotweet @amyintheattic #socialmedia

You may have seen (and used) this nifty button at the end of posts.

Why does it work?

It’s important to lead people by the hand and tell them exactly what you want them to do.

Not only does clicktotweet encourage sharing, it also allows to you write the message you want people to share. When they ‘click to tweet’, the work is already done. Of course, they can change it – but the reality is, most people don’t.

This means you have more control of your message.

It also tracks the number of clicks, so you can measure the success of each post, work out what content is most popular and tweak your content strategy to suit.

Have you used clicktotweet? What other Twitter tools do you use to leverage your blogging profile?

Tweet: Twitter tool for bloggers @clicktotweet @amyintheattic #socialmedia

The 2014 Social Media Landscape

Blogs, Social Media

Every morning I wade through a sea of emails, separating the throw-back-into-the-ocean junk from the big tasty fish.

As I was on my fishing expedition this morning, I came across a gem which sparkled so brilliantly, I just had to share it.

Thanks for illuminating my email inbox this morning.

I know those of you who have a palate for social will enjoy this infographic – and for those of you who are on the ‘I’m not sure whether social media is for me’ fence, this may just entice you to jump into the digital ether (just make sure you let me know before you do)…

by johnmnelson.
Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Using the Right Communications Voice


Once again it has been a short eternity since my last post.

My blog is like the metaphorical ‘builder’s house’. And my guilt infused frustration is the builder’s wife. In fact, I can’t even bring myself to look at the date of the post prior.

However, I have on this occasion, decided not to beat myself up about it.

And, as my friend Suzi says, ‘just lean into it’.

If you’re suffering from ‘builder’s wife syndrome’, perhaps you could try rolling with the idea of letting go of unrealistic expectations as well. Just work with what is. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Even if you feel like sand paper is scratching against your perfectionist intestines.

Because here’s the thing…it really is OK to be less than perfect every now and then. Yes, that applies to high achievers as well.

Anyway, back to the blog…

I’ve been feeling the urge to expel my thoughts on a simplistic topic which has been percolating within my over-analyst self for some time.

Are you communicating to your audience via their preferred channel?

When you are connecting with your clients, colleagues, friends and family, are you reaching out to them using the channels they like best?

For example, my preferred ‘language’ is most definitely email. I would rather spend 30 seconds typing than pick up the phone. Because email is my ‘go to’ tool, I’m constantly linked to it.

My clients know they can rely on me to respond to emails (I hope), and so, this is how most people contact me.

On the other hand, I have a client who likes to communicate through the phone. When I’m not available via phone, she finds it a bit frustrating. And when I don’t receive an email response, I too feel somewhat neglected.

But here’s the thing. We all have the ability to communicate more effectively simply by thinking about how the people we are interacting with like to talk.

Here are the main types of everyday communications voices:

1. Speaking. Good old face to face conversation. Doesn’t happen all that much nowadays, but many people prefer it nonetheless. My Dad used to always turn up expectedly for a chat. I remember as a kid, my parents friends would just knock on the door for a cuppa. They were called ‘visitors’. And it was normal. Today visitors without prior warning are rare. But the unannounced visitor types still exist – think about who you know who fits into this category and understand their ‘voice’.

2. Phoning. Again, a lot of people have phone phobia. A fear of speaking on the phone – and especially leaving answer phone messages. Then again, others love it. Particularly people who have chosen their vocation around it – like real estate sales consultants for instance. In terms of instantaneous action, it’s the next best thing to talking in person. People who like to get things done quickly tend to like the ‘dog and bone’.

3. Texting. This is particularly comfortable amongst the Gen Y’ers. Even younger – my 8-year old knows how to text up a storm. Be aware of the younger generation and their text-mad world. It’s real. This is how they communicate. Get amongst it (as they say).

4. Email. My all time favourite and commonly liked amongst those in business.

5. Social media. Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, the list goes on. Many of my friends prefer to interact this way. After all, it is social.

So, the next time you sense a client, colleague or friend becoming irked by your unresponsiveness or choice of comms, ask yourself –

Am I communicating to this person via their preferred channel?

Simply being aware of it, and tweaking your communications around it, may help to improve your relationships – both personal and professional. It certainly is working for me.