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Should small businesses work with influencers, if so how can they do this?

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Should small businesses work with influencers, if so how can they do this?

Ian Blackburn, MD of ecommerce platform, Hidepark Leather

Perhaps you’ve heard that influencer marketing is this year’s hottest trend in getting your products and services in front of the right audience.

You’re wondering though, is it relevant to a small business? The short answer is yes, but this guide aims to show you how you can fully make the most out of an influencer relationship.

What is an influencer?

An influencer is an individual who has a following whether that be a blog, instagram, facebook typically in high numbers. Vogue describes influencers as jet-setting social media addicts who can create trends straight from their phones. However, micro influencers are the ones small businesses should be more focused on. These types of influencers have niche audiences in specific circles of interest or geographical locations. They therefore have a relevant audience that you can tap into, usually for a price or promotional agreement.

Should my business work with influencers?

Working with influencers is definitely not applicable to every small business. If you’re a small accountancy firm in a secluded village, influencer marketing probably isn’t going to help you hit the right market. Unless you’ve found niche local bloggers for example, there would sadly be no opportunity for you. In this respect, your business needs to have a national reach or a grasp that could touch multiple communities and interest groups. For example, if I sold gardening supplies in the Midlands only, working with Midlands bloggers and gardening groups may be a way to target niche groups and make the most of your limits.

How can I work with influencers?

The most common way small businesses can work with influencers is by letting them review products. This obviously works better for ecommerce businesses and then allows exposure of a genuine review which people will take on board. Influencers have engaged audiences that trust their words, if they speak highly of your product, it could lead to sales, or indirect sales. Word-of-mouth is as powerful offline as it is in the ‘bloggersphere’.

If your business is service-based, you can still work with influencers. It’s all about targeting the right audience, which requires a fair bit of research into relevant influencers.

How can I research influencers?

Googling is your best bet to start with. Search for bloggers with a relevant keyword related to your industry. You then might find bloggers who concentrate on this area or those who have previously discussed this.

Another way you can see who’s going to be relevant for you is to research who your competitors, or aspirational competitors, have worked with. If no one, you could be making the most of an opportunity others haven’t.

How can you measure influencer success?

It’s naive to think that as soon as the influencer’s post goes live you’ll be getting traffic and conversions, but you should monitor this. If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, check the Google Analytics statistics for referral traffic specifically coming from their site. If you want to track this to the fullest extent you can create UTM tagged URLs which will then show you what traffic is coming from which influencer, you could even break it down by social channel for example.

In the same vein, check out social engagement. Are people sharing content about your business? Even if it doesn’t get huge amounts of social engagement this is a great opportunity to see how people react to your business, see it as a bit of a focus group.

I would also advocate to monitor brand traffic. If you have Google’s Search Console plugged in to your site, you can monitor the amount of brand search you’re getting every month (for free). If after some influencer work, your brand search has increased and you haven’t done any offline or other PR activity, you can safely attribute this success to your influencer work.

Influencers, bloggers and SEO

Some people are under the impression that working with bloggers will drastically increase their search rankings, because links have ‘search power’. Google is smart enough to know that if a blogger received a product to review that this ‘link’ is now worthless. Don’t think you should be doing influencer marketing to boost your search rankings, as most of the time bloggers will mark the link ‘nofollow’ which means it will not affecting your rankings at all as it basically tells Google “ignore me”.

Working with influencers isn’t for everyone or every business. If you are looking into this avenue for this right reasons, however, it can be a powerful channel for growth, exposure and hopefully conversions.

Business

Boeing, hit with $6.6 million FAA fine, faces much bigger 787 repair bill – sources

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Boeing, hit with $6.6 million FAA fine, faces much bigger 787 repair bill - sources 1

By Eric M. Johnson and David Shepardson

SEATTLE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boeing Co will pay a $6.6 million to U.S. regulators as part of a settlement over quality and safety-oversight lapses going back years, a setback that comes as Boeing wrestles with repairs to flawed 787 Dreamliner jets that could dwarf the cost of the federal penalty.

Boeing is beginning painstaking repairs and forensic inspections to fix structural integrity flaws embedded deep inside at least 88 parked 787s built over the last year or so, a third industry source said.

The inspections and retrofits could take weeks or even up to a month per plane and are likely to cost hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars, depending to a large degree on the number of planes and defects involved, the person said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Boeing had agreed to pay $6.6 million in penalties after the aviation regulator said it failed to comply with a 2015 safety agreement.

The penalties include $5.4 million for not complying with the agreement in which Boeing pledged to change its internal processes to improve and prioritize regulatory compliance and $1.21 million to settle two pending FAA enforcement cases.

“Boeing failed to meet all of its obligations under the settlement agreement, and the FAA is holding Boeing accountable by imposing additional penalties,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement. Boeing, which paid $12 million in 2015 as part of the settlement, did not immediately comment.

Boeing engineers are working to determine the scope of inspections, including whether jets can be used as-is without a threat to safety, two people said. Boeing has not told airlines how many jets are impacted, another person said.

The FAA has been investigating instances of oversight lapses, debris left inside finished aircraft, and managers putting pressure on employees handling safety checks for the FAA, people familiar with the proceedings said.

For example, in August 2020, Boeing told to the FAA about the flaw involving structural wrinkling in the interior fuselage skin where carbon-composite barrels that form the plane’s lightweight body are melded together.

But the defect went unnoticed for months or longer because computerized safeguards that crunch data looking for quality flaws had not been programmed to look for the gaps, a third industry source said.

DELIVERY TARGET

The 787 production problems have halted deliveries of the jet since the end of October, locking up a source of desperately needed cash for Boeing.

The fuel-efficient 787 has been a huge success with airlines, which have ordered 1,882 of the advanced twin-aisle jet worth nearly $150 billion (74.7 billion pounds) at list prices.

But the advanced production process and sprawling global supply chain caused problems over the years.

As of February, Boeing had fixed the 787 production process causing the wrinkling defect, according to two people familiar with the matter.

However, planes rolled off the assembly line with the flaw for more than a year, at least, continuing even after the flaw was discovered in August 2020.

“It’s difficult to see a definitive fix that is agreeable by the aviation authorities and all going forward,” Boeing customer Air Lease Corp’s CEO John Plueger told analysts on an earnings call Feb 22. “I don’t think that we’re there yet.”

Boeing has been working on the fuselage problem, and two additional potentially hazardous defects that arose since 2019, as it charted plans to consolidate final assembly of the 787 in South Carolina starting next month, at a sharply reduced rate of 5 787s per month.

One senior supply chain source said they will have to cut rate again.

Boeing said last month it expects to resume handing over a small number of 787s to customers later this quarter.

It has an ambitious internal plan to deliver 100 of the jets this year, one person said. Analysts say deliveries are not expected to recover to 2019 levels until at least 2024.

‘OPEN-HEART SURGERY’

But before any jet is delivered, it must go through invasive inspections and costly repairs.

First, technicians must pull out the passenger seats, open up the floor paneling and use specialty tools to measure whether defects invisible to the naked eye are present, according to three people with direct knowledge of the process.

The repair work – already underway at Boeing factories in Everett, Washington and North Charleston, South Carolina – is even harder.

In the bowels of the jet, technicians have to remove multiple specialty fasteners on both sides of the inner fuselage skin, then install newly produced “shims” that fill out gaps and remove the structural dimpling. Workers then replace all the fasteners, re-paint, and re-install the interior, they said.

“It’s like open heart surgery,” one of the people said. “They’ll be retrofitting the fleet for potentially several years.”

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris, David Shepardson in Washington, and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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On a retro style milk truck, London entrepreneur chases a ‘zero waste’ future

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On a retro style milk truck, London entrepreneur chases a 'zero waste' future 2

By Natalie Thomas

LONDON (Reuters) – Heralded by the whirr of its underpowered electric engine and the clink of bottles stacked in crates on the back, Ella Shone’s ‘Topup Truck’ started life ferrying morning milk to the doorsteps of bleary-eyed Londoners.

Twenty years on, and the light vehicle known as a ‘milk float’ – once a ubiquitous sight on British streets – is enjoying a second career selling a range of goods and serving the 32-year-old’s quest to rid the city of single-use plastic.

“The fact that I’m driving around in a milk float does a lot for raising awareness in the local area,” said Shone, wearing a black beanie during her rounds in the borough of Hackney last week. “So now I’m operating at almost full capacity.”

Furloughed from her sales job during the coronavirus pandemic last spring, Shone used savings to start her new business, aiming to meet growing demand for household goods free of the plastic packaging used in supermarkets.

Customers book a visit from the ‘Topup Truck’ online and then purchase goods such as lentils, pasta, olive oil, shampoo or washing up liquid using their own containers.

From a low base a decade ago, the market for such unpackaged bulk goods could hit at least 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) by 2030 in the European Union, according to a report https://zerowasteeurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020_06_30_zwe_pfs_executive_study.pdf by Zero Waste Europe, an anti-waste network.

While handling the logistics can be a challenge, Shone calculates that her service has eliminated the need for at least 12,700 pieces of plastic since it launched in August.

Planning a crowdfunder to retrofit her milk float to enable her to serve a greater range of products to more communities, Shone hopes her novel approach will inspire others to find creative ways to tackle waste.

“If we want to have real change, it has to be a collective effort,” she said.

($1 = 0.8218 euros)

(Writing by Matthew Green, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

 

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Lufthansa adds more summer holiday destinations in bet on recovery

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Lufthansa adds more summer holiday destinations in bet on recovery 3

BERLIN (Reuters) – Lufthansa is adding more holiday destinations to its summer flight schedule from Germany in anticipation of a strong rebound in bookings, it said on Thursday, betting COVID-19 vaccines and testing will soon make vacation travel possible.

Germany’s largest airline said it was planning to add around 20 new destinations from Frankfurt and 13 from Munich to locations such as the Caribbean, the Canary Islands and Greece.

COVID-19 vaccines and testing, along with strict hygiene rules at airports and on planes, will be prerequisites for travel this summer, it said.

“We expect many countries to relax travel restrictions towards the summer as more and more people have been vaccinated,” Lufthansa board member Harry Hohmeister said in a statement.

Hohmeister said the airline, which secured a 9 billion euro ($11 billion) state bailout last year, expects a sharp increase in demand once restrictions are lifted.

Concerned about more transmissible coronavirus mutations, many European Union countries have reinstated border controls in what is normally a passport-free travel zone.

“There is a great yearning for travel and we believe that the summer months will reflect this,” Hohmeister added.

In Britain, holiday bookings soared this week after the government laid out plans to gradually relax coronavirus restrictions, giving battered airlines and tour operators hope that a bumper summer could come to their rescue.

Plans for relaxing coronavirus travel restrictions have not been announced yet in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to discuss lockdown options with the head of the regional governments next Wednesday.

Lufthansa, which said in January it was losing a million euros every two hours, is due to publish its fourth quarter results on March 4.

($1 = 0.8187 euros)

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Ilona Wissenbach. Editing by Mark Potter)

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