Insights on the Business Trends event

Business Trends event was hosted on the 19th of February by respected leaders in their field, offering an insight into the priorities and opportunities for Scottish businesses in 2016. Held in the award-winning venue of the Stirling Court Hotel, it provided invaluable time for networking opportunities and by encouraging such events will help Scottish businesses drive global development and boost competitiveness.

As an intern at a networking event created for senior professionals and charity leaders, I did feel somewhat daunted. Nonetheless, after a few handshakes I started to relax and feel very welcome. Networking and saying the right thing didn’t come easy, but I felt very privileged to meet interesting individuals in different fields of work. A variety of speakers at the event included Ross McCulloch, Founder of Be Good Be Social, who discussed implementing a social media strategy for a business. Anne MacColl, an admirable business women and Associate Director of The University of Stirling gave great insights into innovation and entrepreneurship within Scotland to create maximum global impact. Lastly, but very enthusiastically Tricia Fox, Managing Director of Volpa, covered Crisis PR. Tricia also generously took time to speak to me afterwards, sharing her expertise and thoughts on a dissertation topic I was interested in pursuing.

The event provided the audience with a lot of thought-provoking information, useful for both those who have or don’t have a social media strategy for their business, for those interested in innovation and entrepreneurship or have come across a crisis situation in their own company.

During his talk, the aforementioned Ross McCulloch covered some crucial points:

1. Set yourself goals. Look at what you want to achieve from your chosen social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) which could range from simply gaining more likes or followers to increase sales through to winning new contracts.

2. Carry out a social media audit. Examine what is being said about your company online, where your customers are and what they are talking about. Useful tools suggested to use to do so are Buzzsumo, Social Mention and Facebook Graph Search.

3. Put your strategy into practice. Twitter is now using its new Algorithmic Timeline which is similar to Facebook’s Edgerank (which is used to determine what articles should be displayed in a user’s News Feed). But the question still remains as to how to get your content at the top of your customer’s newsfeeds. An example given was to follow the 3 C’s (Cats, Children and Comedy); if you post something your followers enjoy: such as a cat speaking, later when you post on anything else it will pick up that your previous post was a success and therefore thinks that people will also enjoy your next discussion. Remember not to take yourself too seriously!

4. Measuring success. Examine what efforts have made an effect on your audience. Have you gained new followers from posting that cat video? Did people respond to the promotion offered? Did you use the correct tone of voice? It is important to build an audience online and have trust in your staff to work on your company social media platforms.

In her session, Anne McColl discussed innovation and the qualities of an entrepreneur as being brave to take risks even if it may be something that people may laugh at. A discussion was started on what Scotland could do to be more innovative and entrepreneurial with examples of how an idea can be innovative in one country and but not in another, such as KitKat in Japan having over 200 flavours; wasabi and sushi being two of them. A luxurious chocolate that we were able to relate to (and taste) was a brand called iQ Superfood Cholocate is one such innovation right on our doorstep, invented by two Scottish women who found a gap in the market with a health enhancing chocolate. The brand is more known now in the Middle East due to a large diabetic population there. As there is definitely room to move forward with innovation in Scotland, The University of Stirling wants to encourage students and academics to make connections with businesses and enable innovation and entrepreneurship to expand and develop. If we continue to look at what the world will look like, how big the population will be and looking at business trends, we can create more sustainable and responsible ways of being innovative, according to Anne McColl.

After a delicious lunch provided by the Stirling Court Hotel, we heard from Tricia Fox at Volpa who discussed Crisis PR with an example of her work on the “Tackgate” incident, also known as “Puncturegate”. Where, during the Etap Caledonia in Pitlochry, a number of riders fell victim to a saboteur who threw tacks on the track. A plan is needed for any situation that may occur as your company need to address the fact that crisis won’t hide; therefore if you are prepared for any questions that come up you can defuse the situation as quick as possible. In an unlikely event of a crisis it is advised that someone senior should speak to the press on behalf of the company.

From the beginning to end, we were provided with great hospitality from all the staff at the University of Stirling and the Stirling Court Hotel. I recommend that you book a place on the next Business Trends event. If you wish to hear more, please get in touch at Jessica@genoablack.com