Social Media for Business: timeless tips

As another global social media week comes to a close and as many of us start getting ready for the last quarter of the year, this is the time of year when typically we refocus our energy and work to drive forward plans and ideas. With that in mind, I’ve pulled together some timeless tips that will help you succeed when using social media for your business.

A key point to remember is that it doesn’t matter what platform you use or how many for that matter,  the rules of engagement apply across the spectrum and they apply to you no matter how big your company is or how long you’ve been online for.

  1. Manage your time effectively. Being active on social media can take up a lot of your time, especially when you factor in the ‘social’ of social media that reminds us we need to engage with our audience, not simply broadcast to them. SO, in order to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed, and to help manage your time effectively, focus on doing one thing well. Short or long term it’s much better to have a content rich, value led, profile on one channel then having a presence on 3, 4 or 5 different ones and hardly updating them or choosing to auto post from one to another in order to manage them.
  2. Know your audience. Following on from point one: find out where (the majority of) your audience hang out online and then set yourself up there. There’s a number of ways you can do this: survey your customers to find out where they want to communicate with you, look at the latest industry reports such as this one from Ofcom, and even research your competitors to find out where they’re getting the most success.
  3. Fall in love with the problem. Another way to determine where to focus your social media efforts is to fall in love with the problem you’re trying to solve. Each channel has it’s own unique functionalities that will better serve one objective to another and I’m a strong believer in the ability to onboard your audience to any channel, as long as you have a compelling reason for them to join you there. As an example, when I was working in local government one  ‘problem’ we had to solve was how to support families moving from Germany to Wiltshire  ahead of them arriving. We needed to give them information on housing, schools and jobs as well as help to put them at ease by answering any questions they may have. Doing this online was a cost effective way to deliver this and would allow us to do so in a personable and direct manner. So, I proposed using Google Hangouts (a function of Google+). At the time, Google+ was the only place I was aware of where you could hold private group video chats for free so it was best placed as our channel of choice for that audience! The other way was to (solely) create web pages of information and email the link to people…from a user perspective I know what I’d have valued more.
  4. Use video. No matter your channel of choice, video is becoming the focal point of content creation. Most social media sites give you the ability to create video ‘in app’ now too, which makes it accessible to everyone, no matter what your budget and experience. LinkedIn recently joined the party, Snapchat now allows you to continuously record up to a minute of video clips and Facebook has prioritised native video over links to third party sites for quite a while. Live streaming is also a format to consider, and I speak about this a lot as it’s a trend that will continue into 2018. Instagram added live streaming to their stories function at the end of last year and around the same time Twitter updated it’s app to allow users to Go Live within the app too (as opposed to using it’s streaming site ‘Periscope’ separately.) Facebook rolled out live streaming to pages from the desktop version of their site this year too.
  5. Quality over Quantity. Always. Some platforms lend themselves to multiple posts a day and others not so much, but please don’t be convinced that you need to be churning out content just so you can be in people’s newsfeed. Me? I always focus on posting when I have something interesting to say or can share something that is engaging and of value to my audience. What happens when you don’t follow the Q/Q model? Your audience becomes made up of passive followers, stopping briefly at your post, scrolling past and in the end, as a result, they stop seeing your content. This is because many channels use a code that determines who sees what you post and that’s largely based on who engages with you regularly.

That’s all for now! Let me know your thoughts of if you have any questions….thank you to everyone who watched my LinkedIn videos this week too! If you missed them then head over to my profile for a peak. Hopefully we’re connected!

Have a great weekend..

Job Opportunity: Social Media Assistant

We’re on the look out for a part time social media assistant on a 6 month temporary contract. The role is for 8 hours a week and will / can be based in either Trowbridge or Bristol. (TBA with candidates). There is scope to extend the contract for the right person and there is possibility for the hours to increase.

Naturally Social is a growing social media management and training consultancy dedicated to working with individuals, organisations and businesses to help them make sense of social media. The Social Media Assistant is a newly created post designed to support the business’s growing client base and support further business expansion.

In this role, you will use your creative flair combined with your media/marketing/PR related education and/or experience to plan, draft and analyse social media activity for Naturally Social’s diverse client base and for the company’s own feeds. You will have a good working knowledge of a range of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Snapchat and a passion for keeping up to date with the latest trends.

Your excellent written English skills and ability to convey ideas in a concise and appealing way, combined with strong organisational skills will enable you to produce content that is well-planned, accurate, timely and engaging. You will have the flexibility to attend events outside of normal office hours to provide live social media coverage. Experience of using social media analytics, graphic design or video production are desirable, although further training can be provided as required.

Working under the guidance of a supportive and inspirational manager with an established career in social media management, you will benefit from coaching and mentoring as well as a unique opportunity to learn more about the use of social media in a variety of industries from charities and public sector to retail, leisure and hospitality and how to adapt your tone and content to suit different audiences.

Due to the size of the business the social  media assistant will need to undergo general admin tasks as and when required.

Interested? Application is by CV and covering letter. For the full job spec or if you have any questions please email: natalie@naturallysocial.co.uk 

people sat facing a window networking

The art of networking.

I’ve recently joined a monthly networking group as part of a strategy to grow my business. One of the great things this group offers is regular training opportunities – workshops of a couple of hours in length on a range of topics. Specifically, the founder runs a workshop on networking which I went along to earlier in the summer.

It was a great workshop full of helpful pointers and tips about how to get the most of my membership and meetings and what it means to network successfully. So much of the content resonated with me and in fact, inspired me to write this blog post.

A large part of my business entails me not only working one on one with individuals who are looking to use social media in their business, but I also deliver presentations. Mainly around the benefits of social media, but also about etiquette and positioning yourself online.

One of the most common questions or concerns that holds people back from even getting started on social media is ‘what do I do when I’m there?’ ‘What do I say?’ ‘How do I behave?’

I always like to share this little pearl as a starting point – ‘communicating online is no different to communicating offline.’ I also like to highlight that it’s the platforms we use that are called ‘social media’ and the act of using them is referred to as ‘social networking’. So, put your best self forward, be polite, be generous, be present. Show up. Sound familiar? (Hopefully yes!)

For the non digital natives out there (Baby Boomers, Generation X), communicating online doesn’t come naturally. And for the millennials amongst us who get the social side it’s still sometimes difficult to see how our Facebook account or Instagram feed can be used to generate business.

There were so many commonalities between the content covered in Philippa’s networking workshop and what I often cover in my mentoring programme and presentations that I wanted to share. I hope that for those struggling with the how’s of what’s of communicating online these three comparisons will give you the confidence to go forth, adopt the right behaviours and invest the time in doing social well.

  1. “Business networking is not a numbers game. Being connected to lots of people will not necessarily make you more successful.”

People think more followers, more connections and more page likes is a success measure by default and if they don’t have those numbers it’s not working for them or that someone is better than they are. Social media is not a numbers game either. It’s about how you build that community and subsequently how you nurture it. Speak to 2 people as if you were talking to 2000 and you’ll be just fine…

2. “Having made a great first impression we need to ensure we engage in conversation”

As you begin to gain (more) followers, page likes and connections don’t forget to get to know them and help them to get to know you. Don’t go silent or simply send automated tweets. You would never walk in to a room full of people, shout about your latest offer or business venture and then walk out again (or at least I hope you don’t!)

3. “People buy people”

One of the benefits to networking face to face is the ability to see a group of people regularly, get to know about them and their business and as a result build a trust between you that hopefully leads to referrals on both sides when the need arises. This can also be done online. Yep!

Share pictures of you in your business and working with clients. Don’t be afraid to share updates that help to give a sense of who you are outside of work: hobbies, family life, favourite tv shows. Be aware also of how you ‘talk’ online. Your personality can shine through in the way you write your updates. Don’t forget to listen, reply to and acknowledge comments and conversations in your network either – something that naturally you would do when networking face to face.

“Networking is an opportunity to not only learn, seek help and meet new people but a place to support others, build relationships and your reputation.”

There’s plenty of other elements that make up good [social] networking. If you want to have a chat about it, then I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch via my website or you can tweet me @nlysocial

5 tried and tested tools for managing your social media

With so many apps, websites and recommendations out there for managing your social media these days, I’ve been meaning to blog about the top tools I use in my business. As with everything, it’s all about what works for you and with so many of these being free, it means you can have a play and if you don’t like it, try something else. Even still, start with one and as you grow or your needs change, move up and on to something else.

I’ve been working with social media as a comms, PR and marketing tool since 2011. Below are the top tools that I use and have found useful over the years:

  1. Hootsuite –  If there’s one tool you’ve heard of, it’ll likely be Hootsuite. But what’s it good for? Hootsuite let’s you plug all your social channels into one place for ease of monitoring and posting. You can post the same content across multiple channels at the same time and you can programme content for the days ahead. It’s also got a nifty tool called ‘auto schedule’ which basically saves you the guess work and research about what time of day to post and will send them out at the optional time for your specific audience. The basic version of Hootsuite is free and it comes in both desktop and app versions so you can manage it on the go. Not only that but you can access analytics and set up multiple search streams for social listening. This allows you to easily pick up mentions of your brand as well as industry relevant terms. You may even have your own hashtag, want to track who’s using it? Done! Hootsuite is truly at it’s best when used as a collaborative tool though. When there’s more than one person with access, more than one person monitoring and more than one person responding. There are great tools within the platform for making sure all tweets, questions and messages are picked up and responded to and you can also see who is posting what, and when. If you’ve got a junior member of staff you can even give them specific levels of access that allows them to draft content but not post it. Great for their induction period.
  2. Canva – Having good quality graphic design and imagery across your social media is made possible thanks to Canva! A fantastic platform great for sourcing free images, designs and templates all of which have the preset specified sizes for social media channels (the cover image, the tweet, the Instagram post). You can upload your own images and your own brand colours to use too! Many, many, small businesses use this tool daily it’s that simple to understand and play with. One piece of advice – you can easily lose a lot of time scrolling through the designs and images! Don’t get lost in the possibilities!
  3. Repost app – On twitter we retweet, on Facebook and LinkedIn we share, on Instagram you #regram. To do this manually you would need to take a screen shot and go through the process of adding a picture to your account. Be sure to seek permission and to include their Instagram handle when sharing it with your audience. It’s also nice to explain why you’ve regrammed it. If that becomes a little too time consuming for you then that’s where the repost app comes in. It’s a really quick and easy way for you to share other Instagrammer’s photos with your audience. The repost app credits the owner automatically and includes the original text that was posted with it.
  4. Wordswag – We should all have seen the memo by now that visuals are super important for all of your social media posts. Yep, all of them. However, if you feel you don’t have a hugely visual business, or struggle with what to share, perhaps you have lots of inspiring words, advice or testimonials? Word swag is worth looking up. It’s a free app so you can create your content on the go, seamlessly and very quickly. Chose your background, type in your inspiration, pick a style and away you go. It’s ready for you in your camera roll waiting to be shared with your followers on whatever platform you choose.
  5. hashtagify.me – hashtags! A bone of contention and confusion amongst many many businesses and individuals I work with. What do I use? Why should I use them? How many do I use? As a quick heads up – two in a tweet is plenty and when posting on Instagram, it’s recommended not going much above 5. When it comes to finding out which ones to start using or testing then Hashtagify is your tool. Simply type your keyword in the search box and it will display, in a cool mind map, the hashtags which are being used the most alongside that word. Now you can pick which ones most resonate with you and what you’re posting about, or use the results to drop a few.

Do you have any other tools you can recommend? Comment below and let me know. I’d love to hear what you think…

What’s the lowdown with LinkedIn?

As a student coming to the end of a three year degree and having the petrifying realization that it is time to re-join society as a fully-fledged, 9 till 5 working adult, how on earth do you even start to look for prospective jobs? That’s where LinkedIn comes in. When people talk about social media platforms, one I rarely consider is LinkedIn. Why? Because, ignorantly, I didn’t even think of LinkedIn as a social media. I have a profile which hasn’t been touched since it was created and I pushed it to one side . Guest Speaker, Greg Cooper, is a LinkedIn coach who preaches about the power and necessity of using LinkedIn to network and promote your business. Greg held a seminar at the Salisbury BBE yesterday explaining what LinkedIn can do for you. And with 22,000,00 users in the UK, I have now 100% reconsidered LinkedIn as an extremely powerful tool to reach people in your industry.

LinkedIn differs from other platforms like Twitter and Facebook, because its primary intention for your profile isn’t to sell, sell, sell – but build relationships and your reputation. Other users can send you invites and vice-versa; you can invite anyone to become a connection with you. The search feature allows you to find and build an audience of connections you can then work with. You are open to adding a whole host of personas – potential clients, customers, suppliers or influencers.

Your profile is your shop window. Starting with the very first thing anybody viewing your page will see; the profile picture. It’s worth taking some new head shots in a professional environment where you appear amenable and approachable. Mug shots or mid-sneeze photos won’t cut it! Below your picture is your strapline this needs to gain people’s attention.  LinkedIn defaults this to your job title but you can change this to a bullet pointed skills. The largest piece of writing that’s going to really define you as a person is your summary. It should be straight to the point and honest, with a list of your skills and what you do. You can put your own twist on your summary by getting creative and witty to stand out from other people in the same industry.  Another area that allows potential clients to see your skills is the recommendations section, encourage your friends or anyone you’ve worked with to add this to your page.

Once you have found have made connections with relevant people you can engage with them online by sending them relevant articles or direct messaging them. You should build up and engage in contact slowly and then you can take it offline .This is where you sell your business as you have already formed the basis of a relationship online.

Another aspect of LinkedIn that I have struggled with is how to present your page to look more enticing.  LinkedIn allows you to post articles – this is a way of adding more media to your page and also giving your audience an insight into your abilities. Make sure to include eye catching picture so your profile stands out.  There are also group posts you can get involved with – the more you reach out to people the more replies you will get and from that, potentially more connections.

In conclusion the most important thing I’ve taken away from the seminar is that you can’t be shy. If there’s someone you want to make a connection with who’s going to benefit your business – bite the bullet and send them a message! You can create a strong audience full of important contacts on LinkedIn but they’re useless if you don’t use them.  So, I’m now going to update my profile and commit to the daunting but necessary task of finding a post-grad career with my new and improved LinkedIn skills.

Lily Thorne

#Introtweet

As a millennial, I am a product of the social media generation, surrounded by peers who Tweet, Snapchat and Insta their every move. However, I am a complete novice to twitter, and specifically how Twitter can be used to maximize brand awareness, engagement with customers and even generate profit for a businesses.  But, as I’ve recently learnt, Twitter is one of the most important platforms to utilize for personal contact with your customers… Only when it’s done right!

I attended the Salisbury Big Business Event yesterday as a social media intern for Naturally Social.  The Salisbury BBE is now in its 6th year and offers varied range of business seminars and workshops, from Snapchat to Cybercrime there is something every business can benefit from.  A seminar I was most intrigued about was ‘How to use Twitter to engage with you business’ – I understand how to use Twitter just fine, but it’s the nuances and tricks on how to create and maintain a good page for a business that I wanted to know more about.

Introtweet were hosting the workshop and the first and arguably most important point that they made was that you have to engage to get engagement! If you’re sat in front of the screen wondering why you haven’t had a mention in over a week, then you need to get tweeting. But before you can start to engage, you have to have an audience to work with and it’s imperative to target the right people. The search option on twitter lets you find appropriate businesses and potential customers, so that when you are engaging, your information is going to reach your demographic. If you put an ad in the paper, it could be seen by hundreds of people but, not one them meets your criteria. However, with twitter you build your own audience by deciding the most important accounts to follow so all your information is going to reach the right people.

How, what and when are three components that are going to make your tweets stand out. Always, where possible, include a hashtag. With hashtags, it’s quality over quantity, you don’t need 6 #’s at the end of your tweet taking up those valuable characters. Make a statement you think is going to be relevant and important to your audience, and add a # at the end. This makes it clickable and interactive – you can then see everybody else who’s tweeting using the same # and get engaged. Another place for them is in your bio, this will make your profile searchable. So include relevant hashtags to your business.

Replying to tweets is what will make your audience feel valued and want to tweet again. Twitter is an instant and live platform so people don’t want to wait, if someone’s asks you a question don’t leave it a day to reply as another business could beat you to it. You should aim to reply to people within an hour.

Another great place to network and promote your business on Twitter is by using local business hours. For example, #SwindonHour is every Thursday from 8pm to 9pm where local businesses tweet there news, events or just have a chitchat- either way it’s a great place to increase your followers and get your name out there.

To make sure your tweets reach the maximum audience potential you should be tagging accounts within the tweet.  This is going to increase the chance of them re-tweeting you which means you’ll be reaching their audience too. A new feature introduced to Twitter two months ago allows users to tag accounts in images. You can tag up to 10 accounts and it won’t eat into you character count.  Not only are images more eye catching and likely to get a response but you have the potential to reach far more people with this new tool.

Finally, it’s important to keep your spontaneity and impulsiveness when tweeting. Be funny and creative, use the trending stories on the left hand side and hashtag National days that could be relevant to your company – you want people to see your personality not just your business – this is going to make you more  personable and not just another twitter account that’s trying to sell something.  You should aim for a varied range of behind the scenes personal content, industry news, relevant articles and information on your business and promotions.  It’s worth putting in the time to have a strategy every week so you’re using every tweet to its full potential. Remember, stay engaged and keep tweeting, because that’s what will make your Twitter page a success!

Lily Thorne

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!