Naturally Social Founder is one of UK’s Top 10 Advisers

We are delighted to be able to spread the news that Natalie has been named as one of the UK’s top 10 advisers 2019 for the work that she has been doing to help entrepreneurs grow their business.

About Naturally Social

For the past four years since Natalie founded Naturally Social, she has been advising firms on social and traditional marketing as well as blogging and digital advertising. Additionally, Naturally Social offers a team of experts for businesses looking for outsourced support. At the event, Natalie picked up an award in the Marketing category.

People kept encouraging Natalie to set up her own business because of the results she’d achieved and the impact she was having. Therefore, she decided to take a leap of faith and once she got going it quickly became apparent there was a huge need for trusted social media and digital advice in the private sector.

A lot of the work we do is behind the scenes, helping firms get more traction, increasing sales efficiently in a frictionless way.  It’s nice to be recognised for the impact we’ve had because service-based businesses like Naturally Social rarely get a lot of exposure for the work they do.

About the Awards

The awards were part of the Top 50 Advisers Competition hosted by small business support group Enterprise Nation at the city headquarters of the Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales (ICAEW) and sponsored by Direct Line for Business and Square.

Something which resonated with Natalie on the day, was what Emma Jones, MBE, founder of Enterprise Nation, who handed out the awards said: “All research points to the fact that businesses that take advice at the right time become more successful than those that don’t.”

“Yet our own research has found small firms are still reluctant to take advice, often relying on family and friends.  These awards are about raising awareness about the benefits of guidance, increasing the ease with which you can find advisers you can trust and recognising the signs when it’s time to seek the help of an expert.

“Without these amazing advisers, great British businesses wouldn’t be doing great things.”

Jasvinder Gakhal, managing director of Direct Line for Business, said: “These awards celebrate the skill and success of business advisers across the country. It has been an honour to be a part of the awards and we would like to congratulate all of the winners. This is a tremendous achievement and is testament to the hard work all of these businesses have put in to growing their proposition. We look forward to seeing how they continue to develop in the future.”

The competition also named 50 advisers in the nine core disciplines from across the UK that specifically offer quality advice to smaller firms in order to help them expand.  Enterprise Nation has developed an adviser platform with the ICAEW that can help improve the speed and efficiency of selecting and connecting with a good adviser.

The competition saw hundreds of adviser nominations and more than 5,000 votes were cast during in the voting phase for advisers in technology, leadership and management, PR, marketing, sales, branding and design, human resources, legal and finance and funding.

Thank you to everyone who voted for Natalie in the marketing category. For more information about how we can advise you on your marketing needs, then get in touch.

social media

April Monthly Intern Blog: We’re award nominees!

April has been another busy month at Naturally Social! This month we became a Limited company and found out that we are finalists in The Techies awards!

This month I have been doing a lot of work around the office. I’ve been writing social media strategies for clients, doing hashtag research and analysing email marketing campaigns.

Writing a Social Media Strategy

Writing a social media strategy is the basis for a business’ effective social media presence. Therefore, it takes a lot of time to research, produce content ideas and edit. Writing a strategy involves assessing clients’ business objectives and goals and planning a way to fulfil these using social media. It’s good to think about what’s already working, what could be improved and tactics that could increase brand awareness and engagement. I enjoy this because it involves understanding a business and also assesses how we can help them reach their goals.

Hashtag Research

Hashtag research helps to inform a social media strategy and is something I’ve been working on this month. Using hashtags makes content more likely to be found by a target audience on social media. Hashtags can be searched and the content that has been posted using that hashtag is gathered in one place. It’s good to know what channels to use hashtags on (some are better than others) and what hashtags users are engaging with. Instagram and Twitter are good channels to use hashtags on because they are often searched on these platforms. While hashtags can be used on Facebook, it’s a less effective platform for hashtags because they’re not often searched.

Different hashtags can be used for different purposes. Industry hashtags can be used to target people looking for a specific service or product. Location hashtags can make content visible to people in a certain area. My tip would be to take notice of how many posts there are under the hashtags you search. Also note how often content is posted using certain hashtags. It is easy to fall into the trap of posting under a popular hashtag, thinking that your post will be seen more. However, it’s unlikely that many people will see your post because these hashtags are over-saturated with content. The best thing that you can do is find some middle ground. Try applying hashtags that are used enough to be searched by your ideal client, but not so much that your content is going to get lost within all the other posts.

Email Marketing

Another form of marketing that I have become more familiar with this month is email marketing. In past months, I have had practice in sending out the monthly newsletter for Naturally Social. This month I got some more experience of how to deliver an effective email marketing campaign. I learnt more about measuring success rates in a campaign by analysing a client’s email marketing data on MailChimp. I found successful tactics that could be copied and suggested things that could be implemented to further improve their strategy.

New Designs

Towards the end of the month, I sat in on a meeting that Natalie had with a designer to talk about plans for Naturally Social’s new branding. It was great to be able to see the different stages of the design process and what the vision is for Naturally Social going forward.

I will keep you updated about what’s going on. Next month we have two award evenings, so I’m sure it will be just as busy!

Wiltshire Business Award Nominations!

We have been short-listed for the Wiltshire Business Awards, which take place on 10th May 2019 at Centerparcs Longleat. Natalie, our founder, is up for Best Business Person. Also, Naturally Social is short-listed in the Best Micro-Business category.

Our agency was founded in 2015 and is a business with positive ethics at its core. We are a social first communications agency with an interest in helping businesses and charities that put purpose before profit. We offer social media consultancy and management services to our clients. Our aim is to create great content for clients so that they can focus on their business. We also offer public training courses, including a course on ‘How to Create a Successful Social Media Strategy’.

We are lucky enough to have gone to The Wiltshire Business Awards before. In 2017 we were short-listed for the Start Up Business of the Year and Creative Marketing Award. We were also up for an award in 2018, making 2019 the third year we will be at the awards.

The Wiltshire Business Awards are a yearly event, made to celebrate the hard work of businesses in Wiltshire. We are happy to be part of this year’s awards as it is their 25th anniversary.

We are so pleased that our efforts to create a business which has a positive social impact has been recognised. We’re looking forward to an evening celebrating the hard work and successes of local businesses.

Wish us luck, if you would like to keep up to date with how we get on, follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Social Media: Making a positive change

I talk a lot about the positives of social media. In a time when most platforms are facing scrutiny for the content that is being shared there I wanted to put pen to paper (so to speak)…

Social Media for Social Good

Last year I had the opportunity to deliver a Ted-X inspired talk at Wiltshire Council in Trowbridge. The talk was about Social Media for Social Good – because it’s a topic close to heart. I’ll go in to more details about what this truly means in another post. For now, I want to talk about how we can all use social media in a more positive way and why we should each make small changes to the way we use social media platforms.

Sharing

Social Media is, for many, a massive part of our lives. It has the power to affect our mental well-being for good or bad. This effect is very much two way and we must take responsibility for the content we choose to share. After all, this has potential to affect how our followers and friends feel. With this in mind, always be mindful when re-sharing content from other sources of information. Is it from a factually reputable source? The phrase “Fake News” has been thrown around so much recently that it is almost a cliche, however, it’s still very much a problem. Contributing to the spreading of “Fake News” includes clicking or commenting on images, quotes and memes that are designed to shock. Also known as click bait. Use a website like www.snopes.com to confirm whether what you’ve seen is factually correct or check the web address of the source. Does it look or sound legit?!

Raising Awareness

Raise awareness of a charity close to your heart. It is a great thing that more and more people are aware of the world around them and want to change things for the better. However, the circulation of shocking content is not always the healthiest way to aid that change. Informing people of a charity that they may not know about is likely to have a more positive reaction. It also gives your followers a clear idea of how they can help. If you want to raise awareness of what’s happening in the world – take part in constructive conversations. Don’t facilitate unhelpful or upsetting debate.

Another way of raising awareness across social media is to get involved with cause related hashtags. For example, in recent history #MeToo has helped to demonstrate how prevalent sexual assault and harassment is, especially in the workplace. High profile personalities shared their own stories in order to change the behaviour of society for the better. Be mindful of these and if a cause connects with you then ask yourself how you can follow up once it has stopped trending…

Good News

For every piece of bad news there is, there is also wonderful news that often gets overlooked. People are doing fantastically selfless things every day and changing the world around them by taking positive steps to make a difference. Sites like www.goodnewsnetwork.org are a great source for good news. They will brighten up your social media accounts and remind your followers that it’s not all doom and gloom. Go and download it today!

Social Media Making a Positive Difference

There are so many ways that social media can be used to spread positivity and help others. Here are three more simple ways that you can make a difference close to home with the power of social media.

  1. Post a positive review about a small local business that you have recently used.
  2. Spread the news about a local event that will bring the community together.
  3. Avoid airing your grievances with someone as this may lead to online bullying.

By making these small changes we can all contribute to a better experience online.

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

5 tried and tested tools for managing your social media

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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:

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.

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!

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.

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. Choose 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.

Hashtagify

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…

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 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. So, when you’re very new to business so you have to find your way around it yourself. This blog post lists the most common 5 mistakes I come across working with (and indeed looking for) small businesses. I’ve included some advice for avoiding them too, so I hope they help you 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. Establishing and maintaining a social media presence for your business is time consuming and 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. You’ve realised it’s time-consuming to keep them both up to date. You’re also struggling with learning how to use each platform correctly. 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. For more help, check out our top 7 Twitter tips for small businesses.

3. Not including social media icons on business cards

This is a biggie! I started this blog with the great news that more individuals accept the role that social 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 social. 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 online… 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 and I always see a serious lack of consistency across business accounts. It happens for many reasons which I can appreciate. However, 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’. They use their designated time to just broadcast information and sales pitches about themselves. 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! If you have any questions do pop them in the comments box below or ask me on Twitter.

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

https://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”