Lessons from three years in business

As I sit at my kitchen table typing these words, I still can’t believe it’s been three years since I took the leap to start my own business; providing social media training and account management to other businesses.

And this is where it all began. On the 28th July 2015 I sat at my kitchen table, booted up my new laptop, typed ‘HMRC’ in to google and figured out how to register myself as self employed.

Fast forward three years and I’m in an office, paying rent, employing staff and achieving things I didn’t even dare to dream three years ago.

It’s been such a rollercoaster of emotions, feelings and achievements over the last three years and at times it’s felt like one step forward and two steps back, but Naturally Social continues to go from strength to strength.

I’ve pulled on every last inch of grit, focus and determination I have to get here and will continue to do so for years to come I’m sure. It’s also thanks to a few people I’ve met along the way (as well as a few of my nearest and dearest!) that I’ve found the tools, learnt the lessons and been given the support to keep pushing forward.

That’s mainly why I feel so strongly about sharing lessons, passing on advice and being a cheer leader for other business owners; because it’s tough. And confusing if it isn’t second nature!

So, I wanted to take this milestone as an opportunity to do just that and share five business lessons I’ve learnt over the last three years in the hopes it will help inspire and support others.

  1. Know your ‘Why’ and have a plan. Ask yourself what it is you want from the outset – and keep reviewing it. Why are you doing this? What do you want to achieve? Don’t skip this bit. Have a vision and dare to dream. If it’s to earn a good salary and pay the bills – amazing! If it’s to have a comfortable life style with plenty of time to enjoy a family life – lovely! If it’s to save the world and build a multi million pound business on the way – brilliant! But know what you want, because when you have days where you don’t know where you are or where you’re going – you’ll be able to pull yourself back on track. Not only that but it helps you to set goals and make plans that will outline your road to achieving what you want.
  2. Learn to sell. Whether you like it or not – now that you are self employed, you are a sales person. The quicker you acknowledge this and invest in the skills you need to sell the better. Trust me. Your business will not grow by chance or favours.
  3. Know your numbers. Seriously. How much do you charge, what’s your turnover, what’s the profit, expenditure, balance sheet.  Without knowing this you can’t plan to grow or develop. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I wrote everything down in my first year of business, before moving on to spreadsheets and then using a bookkeeper and an accounting software. Whatever works for you, just don’t run from it.
  4. Surround yourself with the right people. Employing or not – I can not tell you how important it is to find the right people. People who share your vision, people who can be honest with you, people you trust and people who will believe in you no matter what. Find people who will listen and identify your biggest cheer leaders. Invest in these relationships and trust your instincts. If people drain your positivity or don’t leave you feeling your best self – keep them at arms length and don’t apologise for it.
  5. Don’t undervalue yourself. There will be times when you have to do things for free, we’ve all done it. But don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of and equally – respect others. Every one needs to earn money in order to build their business and as lovely as skill swapping is  – be honest and strategic about it. Is it going to add value?

And remember: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill

Hello Scroll Free September!

A new report, released last month by Ofcom, has suggested that the nation is in a state of ‘digital dependency’ with further stats saying that we check our phones every 12 minutes.

“We’ve got Dry January for anyone tempted to try alcohol abstinence and Stoptober for smokers who want to quit. Now, Scroll Free September will target the use of social media” – The Guardian

Championed by The Royal Society of Public Health, Scroll Free September is asking us to address this relationship with our phones, so what exactly makes social media addictive and are you suffering the effects of addiction to your phone?

Scroll for scrolling’s sake.

In today’s society we are so connected thanks to the wonderful world wide web and technology, and ultimately what makes social media so addictive is a subconscious fear of missing out. Every time we finish scrolling, a thought is pushed forward that asks us ‘what’s happened since I last looked?’ ‘Have I missed something?’ And not only that, but because there is so much content fighting it’s way in to our news feed (up to 1500 pieces at any one time!) then our news feed is potentially never ending…so we keep going, and going, and going. Hoping, thinking, looking for something interesting or amusing.

I recently went to a talk given by Dr Charles Kriel called The impact and influence of social media’  where he spoke about how social media companies use the principles of gambling to keep people using their sites. Watch it on Wiltshire Council’s YouTube channel. It’s really interesting.

We’ve also become addicted to the validation of our own content. Always looking to see who likes it or comments on it. That feeling of validation or social acceptance that’s delivered through a Like, a Love or a Share is what keeps us opening and closing.

It’s worth saying that over all it’s been noted the impact of phones and technology is positive, however there are habits and behaviours that need recognising and adjusting in order to for us to reconnect with our offline lives.

Scroll Free September is really about becoming more aware of these habits and tackling them to allow for healthier relationships with our phones, ourselves and our friends and family.

The benefits of going scroll free

Improved sleep  – by giving the mind time to wind down and stop processing all the data it’s receiving we can begin to enjoy undisrupted sleep.

Improved wellbeing – find new things to do with the time you’re not online: read (or read more), go for walks, ride your bike, have dinner with loved ones. Comedian Russell Kane has spoke openly about having counselling for his addiction to the internet – if you think you need more support and help then please talk to some one.

Improved relationships – it’s time to challenge ourselves and ask why we’re searching for likes, or so many likes. While we’re busy looking down, we’re missing out on what’s happening in front of us. Why not concentrate on getting and giving ‘likes’ from those who matter most – our nearest and dearest. A ‘like’ being a smile, a hug, a conversation or a compliment!

Top tips for cutting down on your use of social media

  • Facebook and Instagram recently announced the introduction of new tools to help combat addiction – an activity dashboard showing how long and how much time is being spent on the app. Take a look and start becoming aware of your ‘on-time’
  • There are lots of apps out there too that can send you reminders of how long you’ve been active once you open a profile, some can even disconnect you from your device after a specified time. I particularly like Moment.
  • Limit your app usage by setting times to use each channel – if you’re in business then set an alarm and be disciplined about not being distracted by personal notifications.
  • At bed time, turn your phone upside down and even turn the brightness down on your screen. Place it further away then next to your bed so you can’t reach for it.
  • If you run social accounts for your business be honest – set time limits; check in am lunch and pm, manage expectations with your audience: use auto responders.
  • Be smarter with your time by setting out a content plan for the month ahead so you know when you need to create content and about what.
  • Take this time to have a cull of who you’re friends with or who you follow. Are they contributing to a positive space in your news feed or are they having a negative impact on how your mindset? Take time to think about that…then use one of the many ways you can filter their content out (give me a shout if you want some help with this)
  • Make it fun – sign up with a friend and perhaps incentivise yourself

What I’ll be doing 

I’ve already begun moving business contacts off my personal fb profile on to my page – since becoming self employed I’ve noticed specific generations using Facebook like LinkedIn and I get requests all the time. As much I love everyone I meet, accepting everyone was beginning to blur the lines for me between personal and business and my news feed content was becoming more work orientated. As such the content from those I care about most was disappearing. My Facebook profile has always been about my personal time and space where I can just be Nat, and so I’ve decided to reclaim that.

As a social media agency we won’t be neglecting our customer’s and their communities but for me personally, I’ve decided to commit to the ‘social butterfly’ – not using social when out with friends as well as a version of ‘night owl’ and ‘sleeping dog’ combined and logging off around 8pm.

Take a look at the Scroll Free September website to see the various ways you can commit to addressing your relationship with your phone and let me know what you decide! I’d love to hear how you get on…


Naturally Social launches 30-day bootcamp on creating video for social


Trowbridge based social media agency, Naturally Social have launched their first ever 30-day bootcamp on how to create video for Social Media.

With the changes in Facebook algorithms and the launch of Instagram TV, the need for good quality video content is at the top of the agenda for all businesses that have an online presence. It is reported that a Facebook video receives, on average 135% more organic reach than a Facebook photo (www.socialmediatoday.com)

The 30-day bootcamp which starts on 1st August 2018 will include 2 x LIVE tutorials with founder Natalie Sherman; covering both live and pre-recorded video creation, 30 days of Q & A opportunity, community support and most importantly; structured homework and practical tasks that are tailored to the needs of the individual.

Natalie has recently been chosen by Facebook to work on their behalf as one of just 24 mentors in the UK as part of the worldwide campaign #SheMeansBusiness to celebrate female entrepreneurs and to facilitate Facebook and Instagram training to female founders of start-up businesses across the UK in collaboration with Enterprise Nation.

For more information on 30-day Bootcamp, please visit our e-learning page.

Q&A with Social Media Intern, Will Hughes

What is your name and where do you come from?

My name is Will Hughes, I’mIMG_2738 originally from Rutland in the East Midlands but am in the process of moving to Bristol after living in Bath for two years.

What and where do you study?

I have just graduated with a First-Class honours degree in Fine Art from Bath Spa University.

What attracted you to the internship at Naturally Social?

I have always been interested in social media and its something I have wanted to progress with. At interview it seemed to be such a positive and friendly small team and a three-month internship was perfect for me. I also felt that my personal skills led well into the role and I could bring a creative side into the mix.

What was your first experience of social media and on what platform?

My first experience of social media was Bebo when I was 13.

What are the changes you have noticed ‘growing up’ with social media?

Facebook has always been there and has just grown and grown. I have also watched the YouTube generation grow hugely and this is something that I am part of. I take a lot of my inspiration for my art from music videos.

How do you use social media to get to know the area where you live?

I use Facebook to look at restaurant reviews mostly.

What do you use social media for?

I use social media for promoting my artwork and building my brand. I also use it for socialising with friends, keeping up with celebrity culture and fashion.

What is your favourite platform?

My favourite platform is absolutely Instagram, its so visual and there is more of a mix of people on there. There are many communities within Instagram and it is easy to find people like yourself using hashtags. It is a place not only for fabulous visuals but also a place to build happiness rather than negativity.

Who is your favourite person on Social Media and why?

I follow lots of fashion industry folk and love Donatella Versace. I like Nick Knight the Fashion photographer who does interviews and breakdowns of fashion campaigns. I also really enjoy a fellow artist and designer called Straight but Curious based in Newcastle.

Give us an example of a social media campaign that you thought worked really well

The most recent Polaroid Original campaign. It was really interactive and using something as simple as an ice cream van and getting the public to upload polaroids of themselves eating the said ice-cream was a huge success.

What have you learnt so far as a ‘Social Media Intern’

I have only been here three days but already I have learnt that video is so massive on social media. It’s the most engaging and can be achieved with relatively low budget.

How are young people using social to communicate? Time, frequency, type of content?

I think young people use it every minute of the day. Before you go to bed you check what’s happening, the first thing you do when you wake up you also check social media, as well throughout the day regularly.  People that use Instagram are using the stories to quickly engage with their audience, also the comments are private as they are sent as direct messages to the ‘Storyteller.’ People do tend to try and make their lives look as amazing as possible visually, but this could be masking what’s going on in their real life, so we want to know the person behind the social media screen, which is where things like the direct message function and Facebook Messenger help.

I also think people use it a bit too much and we need to learn to live in the real world again as well as fulfilling the digital obligations we feel we have.

What advice do you have for businesses looking to connect with your age group?

Video content with captions on the screen. People often scroll through social media quietly and don’t always watch video with sound. Sponsored content always catches my eye too. Influencers are also being sponsored now by big brands on social – its massive on YouTube but by the person and the brand endorsing each other it makes me want to buy the product more.

What is your initial perception of business use of social?

That it is a vast field – much bigger than I thought it was. The whole scope of it, the content generation, cross promotion on different platforms and the most slick and simple of campaigns will have taken the most time to create.

Any other interesting facts about yourself you’d like to share?

I have recently won the Kenneth Armitage Foundation Graduate prize for 2018 and I also won the Spike Island Fellowship 2018. It was a good week! 😊





Social Media Internship – a new perspective

As part of the Santander Internship Scheme Naturally Social were given the fantastic opportunity to interview and recruit a Social Media intern, Ffion Davies from Bath Spa University.

“The Santander Internship programme gives students access to the industries and organisations that they want experience in and there’s also a possibility of extending the internship, or moving to a permanent contract depending on the needs of the SME…

For the students it’s an excellent opportunity to gain vital work experience and for the SME, it’s a chance to work with talented young professionals.” Santander

Not ones to miss a trick, we took the chance to interview Ffion and find out exactly what a young person’s perspective on social media is.

Ffion Davies

What is your name and where do you come from?

My name is Ffion Davies and I live on the outskirts of Bath. I’ve just graduated which is a relief.

What and where do you study?

I study English literature at Bath Spa University.

What attracted you to the internship at Naturally Social?

I saw the post advertised on Bath Spa Careers Hub and I thought it was a brilliant opportunity to get to know social media on a marketing and business level. I love social media – it’s something I utilise every single day.

What was your first experience of social media and on what platform?

My first experience of social media was on Facebook when I was about 13 – when I first signed up I initially used it to talk to my friends and see what they’re up to. Now, I use it for everything! Most people tended to use Facebook predominately however I know that people used MSN, MySpace and Bebo. Obviously, it’s completely different now!

What are the changes you have noticed ‘growing up’ with social media?

It’s become integral in daily life whereas before I’d sort of only log on once a day to see what my friends were up to. Nowadays, I use it for everything from looking for skincare to university work – I have a few lecturers on twitter I keep in contact with that way. It is literally used every day – every ten minutes – not just to check up on my friends.

How do you use social media to get to know the area where you live?

I don’t really use social media in that way – I suppose I do follow the Bath Chronicle on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with what’s going on in Bath. I also follow my university on social media to keep up to date with what events are going on and things like that. Twitter in my main platform for keeping keyed into the local area.

What do you use social media for?

I use it for a variety of things. I talk to my friends and family online. It’s so easy to keep in contact with people who live a faraway with the internet. I also use it to keep up to date with the news. I don’t really go home and watch BBC news at the end of the day, so I tend to keep up with things via Twitter.

What is your favourite platform?

That’s a difficult question! I would probably have to say Instagram. I think because it is so visual, it really appeals to the younger generation. However, I use Twitter a lot too. I can keep up with everything on Twitter and I use it for contacting friends, watching the news and even looking at products to buy.

Who is your favourite person on Social Media and why?

This is very obscure, but I love following Stephen King’s Twitter account. He has such a strong presence on Twitter with his controversial views regarding American politics. Obviously, being a writer, you’d think he’d have a specific audience but through the power of Twitter – likes and retweets – he gets his tweets retweeted by millions – probably by people who don’t know who he is or have never read his books. Social media is available to everyone and gives everyone a voice on every topic.

Give us an example of a social media campaign that you thought worked well.

I think I would have to say the Times Up campaign – I’m not sure if it was a social media campaign as such but it was HUGE on social media. I think it was when all the actors and actresses were wearing black to support women who’d experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. It was all over social media and I think it’s so important for women to band together to support women all over the world who experience sexual harassment in the workplace. It happens in every job and is still a massive problem. It’s something that resonated with me and the sheer power of it was incredible! One day it didn’t exist and through the force of social media, within 24 hours it was everywhere – on every platform. Social media gives a voice to those seeking change in society – which is why it’s so important to campaigning and activism.

What have you learnt so far as a ‘Social Media Intern’

Be confident and be yourself! Don’t worry – because it’s so nerve-wracking going from an educational environment to a work environment. Working yourself up and wasting your energy on being nervous is just energy you could be focussing on the work itself. I’d say confidence is key in an internship.

Thanks Ffion

Naturally Social Founder chosen by Facebook as #SheMeansBusiness Mentor

More celebrations here at Naturally Social HQ with the news that, Natalie (Sherman) has been chosen by leading social media platform, Facebook to work on their behalf as one of just 24 mentors in the UK as part of the worldwide campaign #SheMeansBusiness.

The inspirational scheme was launched last year to celebrate female entrepreneurs and to facilitate Facebook and Instagram training to female founders of start-up businesses across the UK in collaboration with Enterprise Nation.

Last year, the campaign provided training to over 10,000 female entrepreneurs and provides opportunities for women in business to make valuable connections, share advice and move forward, together.

Natalie says: “I am thrilled to be chosen by Facebook and love to be able to support other female founders in growing their business and helping to build their confidence in social media. It is a fantastic campaign and one I am very proud to be part of.”

Natalie will be arranging a series of #SheMeansBusiness meet ups and free workshops will be delivered throughout the year for female business women, dates of which will be published soon.

For more information on #SheMeansBusiness visit: https://shemeansbusiness.fb.com/uk/

To find out about Naturally Social, visit: www.naturallysocial.co.uk or call Natalie on 01225 809990


Natalie Sherman

South West top 42 under 42 listing

We are delighted here at Naturally Social that our esteemed leader, Natalie has been highlighted as one of the top 42 entrepreneurs under the age of 42 in a prestigious listing of business leaders in the South West. The list celebrates the diverse industries and innovation led by young professionals that are thriving across the southern part of the UK.

Natalie features on the list alongside other CEOs such as Tom Carr and Richard Preece of Verto Homes, Hannah Morden of Living DNA and Stuart Pearce of SMARTech.

Natalie who has a background in local authority digital services set up the Trowbridge-based company, Naturally Social three years ago and specialises in social media training, consultation and account management.

She says: “I am thrilled to be featured in this article alongside other inspirational professionals and to be given the opportunity to showcase what a social first communications agency can do.

At Naturally Social, our focus is on community, communication and creativity in order to drive and deliver impact. The biggest issue for us currently is educational; teaching the market what a good social media presence looks like and what a good agency should do for them.”

To read the article in South West Business Insider, visit www.insidermedia.com/42-under-42-members/southwest/201842 under 42 image

We’re recruiting!

Job Role: Communications Manager 

Location: Trowbridge

Naturally Social is a social-first communications agency with a difference. Shaping what we do is our strong sense of purpose and our passion for people. Our success is measured by our impact, both in terms of the results we deliver for our clients, and our impact on the individuals, communities and society around us. Due to continued growth, we’re looking for a new Communications Manager to play a key role in our future development; managing both in house and client side communication needs.

Whilst social-media led, we provide a holistic marketing service, working as a team, sharing expertise to generate creative, impactful multi-channel campaigns that build brand awareness. We support a wide variety of clients, including private and public-sector organisations and charities, from small owner-managed firms to larger businesses. Therefore, to be successful in this new role, you will have a track record using your creative flair to develop attention grabbing content for a wide variety of industry sectors, adapting your tone and approach to different audiences.

Whether you are a marketing generalist, PR specialist or content marketer, you will have experience of integrating social media into your communications campaigns. We value the different expertise that each communications manager brings to the team. You may be a well-connected PR Manager or a content marketer with experience using WordPress, Joomla and video production. Our shared approach means you will get involved in different aspects of the business, taking on a diverse mix of clients and projects, thereby expanding your own knowledge and skillset.

Our team members thrive on communicating! We want you to help us put the “social” back into social media, focusing on starting conversations and building connections between people and communities, rather than automating activity. As well as creating engaging content, you’ll also have the opportunity to engage with existing and prospective customers through attending meetings, networking events and conferences. Your confident, friendly personality and inclusive approach will help you to connect with people from a variety of backgrounds. Building effective long-term relationships with your portfolio of clients will enable you to maximise repeat business and work at a more strategic level with organisations on their longer-term marketing plans.

You will also ideally have experience of supervising others, having worked in either a team leader or management role. You will need the ability to inspire and develop junior team members, as well as supervising freelance professionals to deliver work on time to the required standards.

2017 was an exceptional year for Naturally Social. We were finalists at the Wiltshire and Swindon Business Awards, selected to be on the #Smallbiz100 list and joined Entrepreneurial Spark in Bristol. We also gave back by providing two summer internships to help young people kick start their careers, as well as gifting our services to a local charity combatting loneliness. 2018 promises to be no less exciting! If you share our business ethics and passion and have relevant experience and qualifications, make your next career move with Naturally Social!

To apply, please send your CV and covering letter to natalie@naturallysocial.co.uk by 5pm on Friday 16th March.

Salary: £23,000 to £25,000 depending on experience

Hours: Full or part-time hours considered

Communications Manager Job Description

Facebook ‘Closer Together’

Earlier in the year Facebook announced some changes to their algorithm – the factors which determine what posts we see in our news feed when we open up the app or log in on our laptops or tablets.

It’s fantastic that so many businesses (millions in fact) use Facebook to market what they do, connect with their customers and sell their products or services. For many small businesses across the globe Facebook has replaced the need for a website and allows them to run a business full stop!

However, Facebook has always been about connecting people – friends and families – and creating an environment that supports and encourages meaningful interaction. Over the years, naturally this focus has drifted (or perhaps became less noticeable) as a result of it’s growth but they’re now noticing that individuals are scrolling through what they see in a passive manner and this actually has an impact on people’s sense of wellbeing.

Over recent years the community has also fed back that they don’t like being sold too by businesses and brands on Facebook, so it’s unsurprising that they are really starting to re-focus on the community side of their network, connecting people and prioritising content that will be more insightful, more beneficial and more meaningful to the user. Here’s a cool video that will explain this in a bit more length.

For me, this is a great thing! This is Facebook reflecting on what they wanted to be and what it’s perhaps becoming. Ultimately they want their users to spend more time on the platform of course, but like any good business, they want to make sure that experience is a positive one, and when you sit within a company that connects 1.86 billion people across the globe, you have to take responsibility for what that looks like.

Ok, what does that mean for page owners then? (businesses, organisations, public figures etc)

In short in means you’re going to have to work harder to get your content seen. More than ever you really need consider what you’re saying and when you’re saying it. Again – this is a positive thing. Gone will be the days when people are just publishing for the sake of it ‘Happy Friday’ ‘Happy Monday’ etc and gone will be the days when people think that posting every day, perhaps multiple times a day is necessary. (By the way, this has never been a winning tactic!)

Or perhaps I should say gone are the days that we’ll have to scroll past all these posts because moving forward, we just won’t see them in the news feed, and that’s not good for businesses. (If your content isn’t seen or engaged with Facebook will take note!)

So, what is going to work?

  • Value based content – something that is helpful to your audience.
  • Entertaining content – something that will make your audience smile.
  • Inspirational content – something that will make your audience feel motivated.

Oh and if you haven’t had the memo yet…video isn’t going away. Annnd neither is live (sorry!) So once you’ve brainstormed some ideas that fit into the topics above, have a think about how you portray that through video. Be brave. 🙂

If you don’t have a strategy in place for your social media, I’d really encourage you to come along to our next workshop on the 22nd February in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. It’s a half day workshop that will walk you through the steps to creating a successful social media strategy for your business or organisation. You’ll begin to understand what will work in 2018, where your custome


rs are and how you should be talking to them. (Invoices available at request if you don’t want to pay direct to eventbrite)

I hope to see you there, in the mean time – stay social.

Nat x


(Original press release courtesy of the Small Business Saturday Team)
30th November 2017, London:
Small business owners from the length and breadth of the UK were visiting Downing Street last week to mark Small Business Saturday, which took place on Saturday
December 2nd.
Celebrating its fifth anniversary, Small Business Saturday is the nationwide campaign to support, inspire and promote the UK’s 5.7 million small businesses. This year it has again selected 100 small businesses for the Small Biz 100, many of who attended the reception at Downing Street.
Small Business Saturday receives widespread support from local authorities across the country, from business and from government. At today’s Downing Street reception, small business owners will be welcomed by Stephen Barclay MP,Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Baroness Fairhead CBE, Minister of State at the Department for International Trade, Claire Perry MP, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Caroline Nokes MP, Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency. Michelle Ovens MBE, Director, Small Business Saturday, said: “Small Business Saturday shines a spotlight on our local businesses to show how vitally important they are to individual communities and the UK as a whole. We are encouraging everyone to support the small businesses near them this Saturday, by shopping local, and also giving them their backing into 2018 and beyond.”
Stephen Barclay MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said:
“It’s great to welcome so many business owners to Number 10 today to show our appreciation for the crucial contribution they make to Britain. Small businesses are vital to a thriving and competitive economy that is fit for the future, so it’s great to see that the number of small business

es in the UK has been growing in recent years. We hope the country will join us in championing the UK’s small businesses, and support them this Saturday.”

The UK’s small businesses made £717 million on Small Business Saturday in 2016, which was a 15 percent rise on the previous year according to research by principal supporter, American Express.