person sitting at desk with laptop

Social Media Strategy in 30 minutes a day!

So you appreciate the importance of a social media strategy, but do you have one? If you do, is it working effectively?

We understand that, for SME’s, time is valuable, so it might feel like you don’t have enough time to dedicate to social media. Do you think of delivering a social media strategy as a lengthy process? Well it doesn’t have to be! Allocating 30 minutes (or less) at the start of every day to deliver your social media strategy can save time and help you achieve your goals. Here’s our top tips to help you do just that:

1. Business Objectives

This forms the first part of your social media strategy. If you don’t already know your business goals, then it’s a good idea to make time determining what these are and how they fit into your social media strategy. Your business objectives will help to define what and where you post.

2. Social Media Goals

A goal must be measurable. Make sure you set goals that tie in to your business objectives. For example, if increasing brand awareness is an objective, then increasing reach and engagement should be a goal.

3. Audience, Channel Choice and Tactics

These three elements will be sub-headings in your social media strategy and inform your overall content plan.

Audience

Be aware that different people spend time on different platforms. If you’re unsure about the typical users for each platform, then have a look at some infographics or articles about platform demographics.

Channel Choice

Knowing your current and desired audience will help determine the channels that your brand is present on. We always recommend to do one thing well, then when you feel comfortable with that, start to branch out on to different channels. When considering channel choice, think about where your desired audience will be (this is where your demographic research will be useful).

Tactics

Once you have defined your audience and channel choice, the next thing to think about are tactics. Things to think about when identifying tactics are:

Social media tactics

4. Tools, Resources and Assets

This part is all about making your life easier! Scheduling tools can make a big difference to your social media strategy, especially if your time is limited. At Naturally Social, we love Hootsuite for scheduling and monitoring content. For more information on free social media resources see our previous blog post.

5. Content Plan

If you’re creative, then you’re going to love this part. This is where you plan what you’re going to post on what channel. Consider channel demographics and what sort of content your audience will find appealing.

Your content plan is where you consider what, where and how content will be shared. Stuck for ideas? Here’s a couple of things you can think about:

Awareness days are designed to create conversation around topics of interest. Try searching for upcoming awareness days that relate to your business and create content around this. It’s likely that these topics will be trending online.

If you have any business milestones, such as 5 years in business, or special events coming up, such as an awards evening, then don’t be afraid to shout about it! You can plan content for these in advance and upload posts in the lead-up to the big day.

6. Measuring and Reporting

This part is great if you’re a logical person and one of your strengths is analysing data. Compare the performance of content across different platforms and look at the output. Consider the time of day you’re posting and the format of your content. Metrics/KPI’s you should consider in order to determine what is going well and what adjustments may be needed include:

Social media metrics

If you would like more information on measuring and reporting, we share helpful articles and tips in our Facebook group and on Twitter.

7. Budget

This is a task that you’re probably familiar with outside of creating a social media strategy. Remember that your budget doesn’t necessarily dictate the quality of your content, or the success of your strategy. Yes, being able to spend money on ads that target your audience can help, but don’t be dissuaded if you don’t have a big marketing budget. Some of the most effective campaigns we’ve executed for clients didn’t rely on big budgets.

8. Crisis Plan

Don’t worry, this isn’t as scary as it sounds. Effectively, it’s a just-in-case measure. Think about things that could happen online which might affect your brand’s reputation. Even the best businesses get the occasional negative review and this is something that you might want to consider in your crisis plan. When we deliver training days, we tell our delegates that a negative response should always be acknowledged. Your crisis plan should dictate how you acknowledge it. A crisis plan will also help if multiple people are responsible for your organisation’s social media. It’s a guide for what to do in the (unlikely) event of a mishap, so that it can be dealt with quickly and effectively by any member of staff.

9. Brand Persona Guide and Voice

This is an aside to your strategy. Things to consider are your brand colours – while your content will be slightly varied across different platforms, brand colours help to keep things unified and create a strong brand image. You might also want to consider tone of voice as this could change slightly depending on what channel you’re posting on. If you’re looking to insource expertise for your branding, we recommend Rin Hamburgh & Co.

 

30 minutes a day to deliver your social media strategy can make all the difference. If you’d like further help with the topics we discussed in this post, then our next social media strategy workshop is on 16th July.

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 than 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 peek. Hopefully we’re connected!

Have a great weekend..

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 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.

“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. They think 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…

“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!)

“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. Think about your 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

instagram vs snapchat

Instagram Stories Vs Snapchat Stories

Last week Instagram announced an update to their platform called “Instagram stories” and it’s safe to say everyone was talking about it. Well, nearly everyone. As usual people were quick to voice opinions and make quick decisions, many saying this would be the death of Snapchat. Why? Because, by their own admission, Instagram stories is a direct replica of Snapchat stories.

I voiced my initial thoughts to a friend of mine about whether I thought it would even take off, and wanted to wait a week or so before I blogged more openly.

So what are Instagram stories? 

If you’re not familiar with Snapchat then the fact they ripped off copied Evan Spiegel’s story telling platform won’t mean much.  Stories sit at the top of your Instagram home feed and are a series of images or/and videos stitched together over a 24 hour period to create a ‘story’ – a story about your day, what you’re doing, where you’ve been etc. Most of this content is created in real time but you can pull through pictures and videos you save to your camera roll from else where within that 24 hour period. You can then (much like snapchat) overlay that picture or video with a filter (which changes the colour) and you can add text, emojis and doodles.

The great thing about stories for Instagram is that, as a channel, it’s mostly been about sharing a single photo here and there (and editing it like crazy so it looks ultra profesh!) but now you can use stories to give a more real time insight into your life and what you get up to – without flooding the home feed of your followers with seemingly non-important stuff.

Why is that a win for Instagram? Because they’ve recognised story telling is the way forward, they have the user bare (it’s the second most popular channel in the world) and they think/hope this will keep people on their platform rather then go anywhere else to story tell (like Snapchat) It’s all very Facebook-esque thought don’t you think? Lets give our user base what they love elsewhere on here as an attempt to stop them from leaving. Does it work? I’m not sure it does. Facebook introduced hashtags and they don’t work…In my experience people like to use platforms in different ways for different things. Millennials especially don’t care that they have 10 different apps lets say, each serves a different purpose and a different need.

I do think Instagram stories will work well for brands, organisations and individuals who have a massive follower base there already and I’d be interested to know how their engagement rates on Instagram stories compare to those of Snapchat. I have a feeling they won’t, but in comparison to your standard ‘sticky’ photos/videos that sit on your Instagram profile – you’ll certainly see more engagement by way of views (due to how they’ve positioned the stories feed) – I certainly have.

Another great thing about Instagram introducing stories is the certainty of it familiarising the notion of story telling and ephemeral content (content that disappears) to those who have chose not to look at snapchat to date. I really hope that if those users have a go with Instagram stories, see how others are using it and enjoy it – it will shift their perception of Snapchat. From my experience as a snapchat trainer, too many people are avoiding the opportunities of snapchat because they have pre-conceived ideas about what it is or what it can do.

What about Snapchat?

Ok, so here’s a quick outline of the differences between what Snapchat offers and what Instagram does. Each piece of content you create lasts up to ten seconds and all snaps you send (either to your public story or 1:1 with a friend) disappear once it’s seen (your story lasts 24 hours).

There’s much more choice by way of filters, lenses (that change regularly), stickers and drawing options that allow users to be more creative when story telling. The growth rate has been phenomenal in the 5 years since it launched, much larger than any other social network out there and it boasts 10 billion video views per day. According to some reports, that’s more than Facebook itself.

It’s definitely not going to stop people using Snapchat who are already using it and having kept an eye on things in my circle of contacts on Instagram, I’ve not been seeing it used much…that may change…we’ll see.

How have Snapchat responded to Instagram stories? Just yesterday it was announced they have brought discovery app Vurb – which can only mean one thing…a search functionality. That’s exactly the right answer. Although don’t get me wrong…I’m more than ok with the lack of search function on snapchat…there’s a ton of alternative ways you can build your follower base.

I polled my twitter followers a couple of days after the new feature appeared on Instagram and I’ve also been asking my snapchat followers what they think too. Interestingly the majority of people are giving it a thumbs down. Unless, as I mentioned previously it’s been someone who has a huge following on Instagram already – in which case they’re simply leveraging this element of Instagram and seeing good interaction levels, understandably.

So, should you be choosing one or the other?

No…as with the case with all social media, it’s about evaluating who your customers are, where they hang out and then going there…if there’s potential in Snapchat and not Instagram then work hard at getting your customers to join Snapchat…or vice versa. Instagram stories is just another element of Instagram, another tool, to help you communicate and connect with your community by reintegrating a real time element to it’s platform.

For some, that isn’t what they want from it, for others it will be precisely what’s been missing.

But what it does do is highlight a shift in digital communications and social media marketing that Snapchat can take credit for – story telling is huge right now. People want to connect with people and they want it to be personable. Whether those people represent a large business or a one man band. The evolution of social media as a comms method in business has always been gate crashed by marketing – adverts, scripts and well produced pieces of content. That’s disconnecting you from your audience. I said it some months back but channels like Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope are stripping all that back and are putting authenticity first, and that’s why they’re so popular. Because people connect with genuine moments and that’s all you can be when it’s live. Don’t ignore it…

Curious about the opportunities of Snapchat and how it can benefit your business, be used as a viable comms tool in your organisation and establish a personal brand? Our next Snapchat 101 workshop is on Wednesday 24th August in Salisbury. 

Pictures from Visit Wiltshire's Instagram account

Guest blog: Instagram success by VisitWiltshire

Instagram recently announced it now has 300 million active daily users, 80% of which are outside of the US. The platform hosts a highly engaged, inclusive and supportive community of people who enjoy seeing and sharing the world through photos and video. With it recently announcing the roll out of business accounts, analytics and a new algorithm, we asked the team at VisitWiltshire, who have built a community of over 3,500  if they’d tell us about why the platform is such a good fit for tourism and how others can be successful using it.  

Written by Emma Kirkup, Digital and Online Executive, VisitWiltshire.

We first started to get on board with Instagram after a tourism conference in early 2015 where we saw the power it could have, particularly for tourism businesses. It had always been one of those social networks that we were aware of but were unsure whether it was worth our time and efforts into dedicating resource to, having traditionally used Facebook and Twitter.

When I think back to some of our initial posts, I’m a bit embarrassed as they were quite corporate and not really selling the destination. We were using hashtags cautiously and probably weren’t engaging as much as we could have been. It was after a chat with a colleague in a different Destination Management Organisation that I got more of a feel for what worked well for them on Instagram and how we could bring these ideas into VisitWiltshire.

From our humble beginnings, we quickly gained followers as people began to see some of the posts we were sharing. We developed relationships with the social media teams at VisitBritain and VisitEngland which also got the message out that we were on Instagram. As I write this, we currently have over 3,500 followers.

As part of our general social media strategy, we try to keep our posts chatty and informal and try to showcase not just the big names in Wiltshire like Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral but some of the hidden gems around the county that quite often people don’t know exist. I’m always badgering my colleagues to send me photos when they are out and about across Wiltshire, the quirkier the better as these go down well on Instagram. What’s lovely to see is when you get comments such as ‘I never knew this existed’ or ‘l’ll have to make a visit there’ as it shows we are engaging with our followers in the way we set out to.

In addition to showcasing hidden areas of the county, we use Instagram to show immediacy of visit. A lot of people know about Stonehenge and other key attractions but think there’s no rush to visit these places as they aren’t going anywhere. By taking photos out and about in the county we can show why you should come now rather than later. Whether that is the bluebells out in woodlands through to temporary sculpture exhibitions or events in the Cathedral Close, there’s a reason to come now.

In the early part of 2015, VisitWiltshire conducted a brand positioning exercise which highlighted the reasons to emphasise the immediacy of visit. Our marketing channels were updated to have a new tone of voice and we adopted a new hashtag of #timeforwiltshire which we’ve implemented across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We always use #timeforwiltshire in our posts on Instagram and encourage our followers to do so too by reposting those who use it where we can. We have also engaged with our local ‘Igers’ (Instagrammers) community, Igerswiltshire and have run several joint-instameets across the county including a dawn visit to Stonehenge, a trip to a little known aviation museum and a walk around Bowood House and Gardens. Future meets are planned for 2016/2017 too.

By working alongside Igerswiltshire, we have developed relationships with local ambassadors across the county who share their photos when out and about and use our hashtag. It works twofold as they also get increased use of their hashtag too and they also get access to places sometimes with behind the scenes tours.

It can sometimes be hard to measure the true value of Instagram as you don’t get click through to the website. The way we view it is by engagement with our followers. We realise it’s not all about following numbers but about engagement with our posts and increased use of our hashtag. It will be good though when Instagram releases their analytics tools before too long.

As a partnership organisation, it’s great to see more of our local businesses also adopting Instagram as part of their social media strategies too. It all helps to show off what a beautiful county we have and to help encourage visitors from outside of Wiltshire to come here.

We were delighted in 2015 to have been named Best Tourist Board in the English Tourism Social Media Index for our efforts in social media and are always looking for ways to continue this legacy. The increased use of video will play more of a part in our future posts on Instagram as will continued engagement with the igers community and key stakeholders such as VisitBritain.

Find out more about VisitWiltshire’s Instagram activity by visiting www.instagram.com/visitwiltshire or searching #timeforwiltshire