Person shouting down a can

Social Media and Small Biz: 5 common mistakes

It’s a wonderful thing that so many businesses and individuals are becoming more and more aware and appreciative of the opportunities that social media brings in the digital era we live in. From customer service to industry news, free marketing and brand positioning – it’s all there for us to make the most of. For many it can be a minefield to get your head around, and at times an expensive one you can’t afford when you’re very new to business so you have to find your way around it yourself. This blog post list the most common 5 mistakes I come across working with (and indeed looking for) small businesses and start ups. I’ve included some advice for avoiding them too, so I hope they are a great place for you to start when thinking about what to do and how to get it right from the off.

  1. Jumping on to Facebook or/and Twitter by default – just because everyone talks about it and tells you ‘should be on Twitter and Facebook’ doesn’t mean you should do it. The fact it, establishing and maintaining a social media presence for your business or organisation is time consuming and very much a long term strategy. Your efforts are much better placed doing one thing well then expanding as you grow. What channel is best for you will depend on who you’re trying to connect with, what you want to talk about and how (including how often) you can talk about it.
  2. Linking Facebook to Twitter (or Twitter to Facebook!) – so you’ve set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account, and you’ve realised the amount of time it can take to keep them both up to date. You’re also struggling with learning how to use each platform correctly and most of all you’re constantly stuck for what to write on them. Someone tells you that you can connect your accounts so that every time you post to one it automatically posts to the other. SOLD! Well, as tempting as that sounds please don’t do it. Refer back to point 1! Having a Twitter account or Facebook page full of links, half sentences or hashtags that make no sense is far more damaging to your reputation then simply owning the fact you only have time for one. It negates the ‘social’ in social media too…subconsciously when you’re satisfied that 1 of 2 channels will automatically be populated you’ll forget to check it for engagement (should anyone want to engage with a robot!) and thus missed opportunities and bigger yet – more damage to your reputation.
  3. Not including social media icons on business cards – this is a biggie! I started off this blog with the great news that more and more individuals accept the role that social media plays in their success but sadly, the vast majority (like 85%+) of business cards I get handed have zero reference to their social media accounts. Their mobile number and email address are there, but I don’t know how to contact you on on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or wherever you may be. These aren’t just promotional tools, these are contact methods too…and many customers (millennials for example!) will prefer to get in touch with you on line… so don’t do forget to get them added when you’re printing your next batch 😉
  4. Lack of consistency – this ties in to points 1 and 2 but by and large I always see a serious lack of consistency across business accounts. It happens for many reasons which I can appreciate, but you need to assign some set time/s each week to attend to your social media accounts…even if you can only post three times a week. Manage your audience expectation by adding this detail to your biography or about sections.
  5. Conversation (lack of) – Put simply, too many people forget that social media is about being ‘social’ and they use their designated time to just broadcast information and sales pitches about them selves. A key part to your success on social media is in forging relationships with other users. Think of it like a party. You wouldn’t just walk in to a room, demand something from everyone then turn around and walk out again. You’d look for people to speak to, introduce yourself and say hello. Listen to what they have to say and hold conversation with them. Social media allows you to then meet these people time and time again – it’s up to you then build on that initial contact, keep listening and look for the right time to offer your help/product/services.

Now go forth! Or, if you have any questions do pop them in the comments box below!

Guest Blog: Creating #IBDHour

Towards the end of last year I had to pleasure of being contacted by someone who had an idea, a thought and a passion…but needed to understand how to harness social to deliver it. Richard became a mentoring client of mine and over the course of 4 weeks we looked at goals, channels and approaches. What would be best to get him there; what could be dropped, parked or developed. One of the main things that came out of our initial meeting was the potential (and desire) for Richard to become a thought leader in the IBD / health sector. As a sufferer it was something he had begun blogging about and was actually directing some of his creative aspirations around spoken word poetry and performance.

A great way to position yourself as a thought leader in any sector is to take part in, and (better yet!) establish, twitter hours. By guiding Richard through etiquette of twitter hours, best practice, ideas and the tools that would help manage the content, his very first #IBDHour was a huge success and this month even see’s his first #IBDHour take over – hosted by a key influencer in the community. Go Richard!! Here’s how he did it:

“Hi, I’m Richard. I’m 35, a married father of 1 and I had to have my colon removed before it exploded. I’m one of the roughly 146,000 people in the UK with Ulcerative Colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

I was diagnosed in 2005, and had that first surgery just 4 months later. Since then I’ve had four more major surgeries and now have a permanent ileostomy (a type of stoma) and have to wear a bag to collect my waste.

There are lots of examples of IBD support groups and forums online, many of them on Facebook. However there wasn’t much on Twitter in the UK despite there being several active bloggers and patient advocates using the platform. And so, with Natalie’s help, I started #IBDHour.

What is #IBDHour?

#IBDHour is a monthly Twitter hour for people with inflammatory bowel disease – usually ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease. It runs on the third Thursday of the month at 8pm UK time, and started in September 2016. So far we have discussed diagnosis, where people access support, exercise and IBD, managing the festive party season and in January how to get the most from the NHS as a patient with a chronic condition. There have been steadily increasing numbers, and we get new participants every time. In February, we are having our first guest host, top IBD Blogger and influencer Thaila Skye 

Why a Twitter hour?

Having decided I wanted to move beyond my own blog and participation in other online activities to do with IBD, I thought about what I could add to what was already existing. There are plenty of existing Facebook groups and forums, and I also needed to do something that I could manage in the time available to me, so monthly was appealing. I also love Twitter – it is my favourite social media platform, and so the #IBDHour came into being. I then set up an account, and added some pages to my blog to give it a home. And for #IBDHour the point is to generate discussion, and create connections between patients.

How Does it Work?

I use Hootsuite to schedule tweets promoting the event in the run up – with a two week and one week countdown and theme reveal. I then do a three and two day reminder, and then several tweets on the day to build interest. I draft the Tweets and my own answers to the questions, and then use TweetDeck to follow the hashtag and RT all the responses. And a proper mouse plugged in to my laptop is a great help!

I’ve used Canva & WordSwag to generate graphics, and after each event I use Storify to record what happened – and then publish that link on my blog.

What have I learnt?

Since the first event I’ve been working to get the balance of questions and discussion time. I’ve found that a prompt start and finish is appreciated, and you need to keep a close eye on the mentions for late comers looking for questions (I don’t publish them in advance). Interacting with participants during and after is important too – thanking them for RT reminders for example. So although the event is only an hour a month, there is something to do each week.

It has been well received, and there is a small group of regular participants, as well as new tweeters each time – and a few lurkers.

What’s the point?

It’s hard to convey how isolating having a chronic condition can be, and anything that brings people together to support each other is a good thing. One of my favourite examples of the impact it had came from a lady called Stina, who had only recently had surgery, and she couldn’t imagine getting back to her old life. This tweet from her was a response to our ‘Exercise & IBD’ discussion:

@chicbeauty tweeting about IBD

Twitter Hours are quite easy to set up and run if you can manage the tools available to you which support them. You need to be consistent, pitch the frequency right for your audience and find the rhythm of the questions. It’s a frantic hour, but it can be a rewarding one!”

Richard Harris

http://gutlessdick.com

@doobarz – Twitter/ Instagram/ Snapchat

@IBDHour – Twitter

Hosting a Twitter hour – the man behind #WiltsHour

It’s time for another guest blog post and this month, Jamie Tuck, the man behind the ever growing #WiltsHour took 5 minutes to tell us a bit more about himself and what it’s taken to make a success of this Wiltshire wide twitter hour.

Twitter hours are a fantastic way to build  your network, spread awareness about who you are, what you do and what you know. If you haven’t joined in a twitter hour before, all you need is your phone or laptop, a twitter account and a hashtag! Set yourself a reminder before it’s due to start, sit back and start tweeting. Just remember to engage with what others are saying as well as post your own udpates!

“Natalie recently asked me if I’d considered writing a blog about WiltsHour; to be honest it’s something I’ve been thinking about for some time, and as the community has grown there might be the odd person interested in how it started.

First off there’s me, Jamie Tuck – WiltsHour’s “Mr Wiltshire” if I can claim that title! I’m also Bulldog Websites’ Social Media man. I live in Swindon with my ever-patient wife and two children who’d give the Duracell bunny a run for his money. A pretty average guy but I go from zero to tech nut in the time it takes to unlock my iPhone – I’m crazy about technology, just ask my wife (see reference to ‘ever-patient’!).

Why did I set up WiltsHour?

After quietly working away in social media for a few years I became nosey. I’ve always taken an interest in the vast array of business genres in the local area, and I already ‘attended’ several Twitter business hours under my Bulldog Websites hat. But I noticed there wasn’t anything that brought together the Wiltshire business community.

In February 2016 WiltsHour was born. I set up the Twitter page, bought the domain name for a potential website, readied a logo and set about deciding on a day and time to fit in with modern life and any type of business joining us to promote themselves. I felt Monday night was perfect after a short break over the weekend and 8pm giving enough time for the commute to be done, tea made, kids in bed and pjs on, comfy on the sofa … or maybe that’s just me – it turns out some members join us from the gym, karate class, the train, and on holiday abroad – that’s commitment!

I went on to build a website to complement the purpose of the hour – a business directory to help promote Wiltshire businesses further.

When the hour went live who knew where it would go, if anyone would bother taking part. Working on my own to drum up interest and interact with everyone who joined in, it didn’t take long to spread the word about WiltsHour. Today we have over a thousand followers and 100 business listed on the website.

 Why has WiltsHour Worked?

WiltsHour has worked and is continuing to grow because of the constant support of Wiltshire businesses and my persistent nosiness. I’m always intrigued to see what your business has to offer and to make sure everyone else knows about it too.

What have I learnt from WiltsHour?

Interaction is the key to make any project work on social media. No one wants an automated robot. People are sick of it. I’m sick of it.

I always aim to welcome new participants during the hour and chat to as many businesses as I can to make them feel comfortable with promoting their business, become my friend and find other local businesses to collaborate with, which is why I feel WiltsHour is such a great success today.

 Where can I see WiltsHour next Year?

Just seeing WiltsHour grow and helping small businesses broaden their advertising platform and attract new clients is always a massive achievement.

Please do keep supporting the hour and you never know what new services could be coming to WiltsHour soon.

Thank you Wiltshire!!

You can follow WiltsHour on twitter – @wiltshour  and remember to use the hashtag #WiltsHour”

Shape up your social in 2017

It doesn’t surprise me when so many start ups and business owners tell me their social media is non existent or they don’t have time for it. But what if I told you it is the single most cost-effective communications outlet you have at your disposal? Ok, some face to face networking sessions are free to attend – great, but travel is involved, business cards need printing, and you might not even have your networking strategy down! If you could dedicate even half of the total time spent attending just one of the networking events you go to each week or month to working on your social media you’ll soon come to understand that these free-to-use tools will not only save you time but will give you a platform in which to network with 50, 100, 2000 times as many people than your face to face groups. Social media, is word of mouth, on steroids.

With that in mind, here’s my top 3 tips to make 2017 the year your business goes social. Start 2017 as you mean to carry on and make sure your social media game is on point.

  1. Audit your profiles. Pages on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Linkedin because someone told you that’s what you needed? It’s likely that most of these are probably laying dormant, with out of date information and under utilised features. This is a good time for you to be honest about what you have time to do. Pick what you’re comfortable with currently and are having the most success with, then delete the others. There really is no benefit to you having inactive accounts everywhere. Then, spend a couple of hours updating your cover pictures & profile images, refreshing your pinned posts, completing your account descriptions & biographies and adding your website.
  2. Create a content calendar. Benefit from some quiet time after the festive period and plot the key events for the year ahead. Include local & national holidays relevant to your brand or business, industry events, awareness weeks or days, conferences & events you’re attending or offers you’re putting on. Entering this into a calendar and reviewing once a month is a great way to always be thinking about what you’ll be talking about on social media that month.
  3. Invest! If social media scares you or you don’t know your hashtag from your mention it will be more cost effective, and quicker in the long run if you seek professional support & training to bring you up to speed. You might not know where to start in terms of what channel to pick (and trust me – not every business needs to have a Facebook page!) and a professional should be able to make sure you get set up in the right places based on where your audience is, while at the same time understanding your resource pressures.

£20,000 target reached for Wiltshire Air Ambulance

“A 72 hour campaign to raise £20,000 for Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s new Flight Room has been achieved. The new Flight Room is planned for the Charity’s proposed new airbase on land at Outmarsh Farm, Semington, near Melksham, and will be where the pilots and paramedics co-ordinate their operational activities.
The £20,000 needed for the Flight Room was raised online at the Big Give Christmas Challenge from 12noon on Tuesday 29 November to 12noon Friday 2 December 2016.
During the 72 hour period Wiltshire Air Ambulance (WAA) staff and aircrew posted about the variety of work they do on the charity’s social media channels, resulting in more than 38,000 accounts reached on Twitter and a reach of over 35,000 on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Cheryl Johnson, Head of Capital Appeal at WAA, said: “The response to our Big Give Christmas Challenge campaign was tremendous and we’d like to thank everyone who donated, as well as our pledgers Jeffrey Thomas, Chairman of Hartham Park, and The Andrew Smiley Charitable Trust and match-funders, Candis. We had support from individuals, community groups and businesses.
“The £20,000 raised will ensure that the Flight Room at our proposed new base will be equipped to the highest standards for our aircrew. The new Flight Room will be at the heart of our new home and will be fitted out with state-of-the-art flight planning and mapping equipment to ensure we can still reach any part of Wiltshire within 11 minutes. It will enable our pilots and paramedics to have the specialist equipment and space they need to plan and prepare for each mission safely and effectively.
“There was substantial engagement by the public on our social media channels during the campaign, overseen by Natalie Luckham of Naturally Social, and we found that using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn was a great way to inform people about the variety of work that goes on by the aircrew and the charity team.”
A total of £21,590 was raised during the campaign and the excess raised above £20,000 will go to the
Charity’s Airbase Appeal fund. If the Charity’s detailed planning application for the Outmarsh Farm site is granted it anticipates launching the Airbase Appeal across the county in January 2017. Full details will be on the website www.wiltshireairambulance.co.uk

Small Business Saturday UK

To celebrate Small Business Saturday 2016, I’m excited to be launching the very first of my Wiltshire Tweetups.  What is a Tweetup you ask!? A Tweetup is an opportunity for twitter users to get together and meet each other offline – as a way of developing connections and getting to know one another. I’ve made tons of friendships with many twitter users having never met them before…a Tweetup is a great way to cement these contacts meet face to face and give the phone a rest! It’s also a great way to keep learning, ask questions and share success stories without a character limiting conversation!

The idea is that they’ll pop up roughly every 6 weeks, they will generally be on a Saturday in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere (like a pub!) and will include guest speakers or topics, so that, as a small business you also have the opportunity to learn while you network and wind down into the weekend.

Tickets will always be £10 and will include catering. I really hope you can join me on Saturday 3rd December and help celebrate #SmallBizSatUk. Book your ticket via eventbrite.

I’m also offering price reductions on the following consultancy and training packages* (ts & cs apply)

Social media health check: Using social but not getting much return? We will analyse your account and provide  a written document of feedback, advice and tips on how to develop it further and gain more interaction. Cost: £50 for one account.

Social media mentoring: 4 x 60 minute 1:1 sessions at a location and time to suit you. Taught informally and entirely to suit your needs, experience and skill level. We’re just as happy teaching the ‘hands on how to’s’ as we are discussing strategy and development. Cost: £200

Social media management: 6 weeks social media management (social support package) for the price of 4. Cost: £250

*Terms and conditions apply as follows:

  • To be eligible for these offers please contact Naturally Social via Facebook, Twitter or email no later than midnight on Saturday 3rd December 2016 quoting “Small Business Saturday Offer”.
  • Packages must be delivered in December 2016 or January 2017 and are subject to availability.
  • The prices quoted reflect discounts.
  • All fees are paid in advance via invoice and are non-refundable

Festive social media tips for your business.

As a start up or small to medium size business you probably understand the opportunity that social media offers but undoubtedly can be stretched for time, thus finding yourself stuck in the same cycle of content production. Well, the festive season is a great opportunity for you to wake up your inner creator and start getting fun with social! Creativity always prevails so here’s our top tips for making the most of your social media this Christmas and New Year.

  • Make a festive video – there’s no doubt that video is hot right now and if you want to get more interaction with your brand’s content – using video is the way to go. Why not try putting together a 30 – 60 second clip that shows your staff and office getting into the festive spirit, or icreate a festive thank you message to all your customers – a personable, genuine touch!
  • Put together an infographic – take a look back at 2016 and pull the key milestones and achievements into an easy to digest infographic for all your customers to see and share.
  • Create your own advent calendar – make your daily content fun and valuable by posting fun facts about your business, product or service, and create exclusivity by factoring in special offers or discounts. Snapchat or Instagram are perfect for this.
  • Create snapchat geo filters – if you’re out and about this winter at trade shows or conferences, or if you’re a bricks and mortar business, design a custom geo filter to get customers interacting with and marketing your brand. They’re ridiculously cheap compared to advertising on other social media channels and they’re actually easy to design now they have a bank of templates you can use.
  • Run a competition – activate your fans by running a fun competition. Ask for photo submissions or even festive designs that could get used in your shop window or on your website. You could even run a snapchat design competition! Two birds, one stone!
  • Optimise your page and utilise hashtags – make sure when you’re tweeting you give your content maximum exposure by using the relevant hashtags (both locally and nationally). Check what’s trending first to see if anything is relevant to what you do or use ‘hashtagify.me’ to check what other hashtags you can use when tweeting. If you have a Facebook page and you sell products – be sure to add your products to the new ‘shop’ section and make sure the link leads directly to a payment page. Some websites aren’t mobile optimised so Facebook introduced this feature to improve the user experience.

If you’re feeling inspired and would like support with implementing any of the suggestions above, we’d love to help you with your social media strategy. Get in touch with us today.