Monthly Intern Blog: April

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

This month I’ve been doing a lot of work around the office; continuing to write social media strategies for clients, conducting client hashtag research and analysing email marketing campaigns to identify what’s going well and what can be done to improve even further.

Writing a social media strategy is the foundation for a business’ effective social media presence and therefore takes a lot of time to research, generate content ideas and revise. Writing an in-depth strategy involves considering the business objectives and goals that a client has and finding an approach that will help to achieve these goals on various social channels. It’s important to consider what’s already being done, what could be changed or improved slightly and extra tactics that could generate brand awareness or increase engagement. This is something that I really enjoy because it involves not only understanding what a client’s business does currently, but it also considers their goals for the future with where they want their business to be and how we can help them with this.

Hashtag research is something that often helps to inform a social media strategy and is another thing that I’ve been working on this month. Using hashtags is something that makes content more likely to be discovered by a desired audience on social media. People can search for specific hashtags and all the content that has been posted using that hashtag is collated in one place. It’s important to know what channels to use hashtags on (some are more effective than others) and what hashtags users are engaging with. For example, Instagram and Twitter are good channels to use hashtags because they are being searched frequently on those platforms. However, while hashtags are available to use on Facebook, it is a much less effective platform to use them on because people don’t often search for them.

Different hashtags can be generated for different purposes, for example, industry hashtags can be used to target people looking for a specific service or product and location hashtags can make content discoverable to people in a certain area. My tip would be to pay close attention to how many posts there are under the hashtags you search and how often people are posting content using certain hashtags. It’s easy to fall into the trap of posting content under a popular hashtag, thinking that your post will get more visibility. However, realistically, it’s unlikely that many people will see your post because these hashtags are over-saturated with content. The same goes for hashtags where content is being posted very frequently (100+ posts per hour); your desired audience is unlikely to see what you’re posting. The best thing that you can do is find some middle ground – you want to employ hashtags that are used enough to be searched by your desired client, but not so much that your content is going to get lost within all the other posts.

Another form of marketing that I’ve become more familiar with this month is email marketing. In the previous months, I have had practice in sending out the monthly newsletter for Naturally Social, but this month I got some more experience of how to deliver an effective email marketing campaign. I learnt a lot more about how to measure success rates in a campaign by analysing a client’s email marketing data, identifying successful tactics that can be replicated and what could be implemented to further improve their strategy in the future.

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

I will continue to keep you updated about what’s going on – next month we have two awards evenings, so I’m sure it will be just as busy!

Social Media: Making a positive change

I talk a lot about the positivity of social media and 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)…

 

Last year I had the opportunity to deliver a Ted-X inspired talk at Wiltshire Council in Trowbridge 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 but 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 our social media platforms.

 

Social Media is, for many, a massive part of our day to day lives and has the power to greatly affect our mental wellbeing 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?!

 

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 but 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 and it 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, with high profile personalities sharing 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…

 

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 and will brighten up your social media accounts and remind your followers that it’s not all doom and gloom. Go and download it today!

 

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.

Internet Safety Tips for Parents and Businesses

It’s Safer Internet Day on 5th February 2019 and this year we’ve pulled together some top internet safety tips for both parents and businesses.

5 Top Tips for businesses to stay safe online

Change your passwords

Make sure you change your passwords regularly and be aware of who has access. If employees leave – and it’s likely they managed the social media from their phones be sure to revoke their access – which can be managed in the security settings of each app.

Log out

This one might seem obvious, but it’s a mistake that a lot of people make, both on their personal and business accounts. It’s easier to leave all your sites open on web browsers but this leaves you open to hackers. Always log out of accounts once you’ve finished using them.

Try not to use public wifi

When using public wifi networks you are left vulnerable to a cyber attack. Surprisingly, using 4G on your mobile is actually more secure than connecting to public wifi. If you are self-employed and often work in public spaces, then click here to find out how to protect yourself from hackers while connecting to public wifi networks.

Familiarise yourself with security settings

Security settings are there for a reason and they’re really helpful! Regularly review them and familiarise yourself with the variety of options available on each platform.

Employee training

Take responsibility for training your staff on how to use social media safely (both personally and professionally). Have a policy in place about the use of social media for both work and non work related purposes. If you would like guidance and support for both training and policy writing please get in touch.

Top 5 Internet Safety Tips for Parents:

Discuss internet safety

The most important thing about protecting children online is to understand how much they already know about systems in place to prevent cyber attacks and online bullying. You can then identify what areas of internet safety you need to talk to them about. The Safer Internet Day website has some helpful resources on how to initiate a conversation with your child about online safety and fun quizzes for 8-13 year olds to test their internet knowledge.

Set up parental controls

Parental controls are an important part of keeping your child safe online. They block websites that you believe to be inappropriate for your child and you can also use them to limit the amount of time that your children spend on the internet.

Use child-safe versions of search engines and popular websites

There are several search engines that are designed specifically for children. These search engines allow them the freedom to use the internet for educational purposes, without the risk of seeing web pages that aren’t appropriate for their age group. Popular social media website YouTube has a child-friendly version, which is a useful function, but isn’t perfect, so it is best to monitor what your child is looking at online, even when the child-friendly versions of websites are being used.

Be share aware

Encourage your children to ask for permission when they are sharing photos of friends and family online. Make sure that they know what kind of information they should and shouldn’t be sharing on social media platforms. This avoids any personal details ending up on the internet. Encourage them to only accept Facebook friend requests from people they know and set public accounts like Twitter and Instagram to private. For information on how to do this, keep an eye out for an upcoming video on the Naturally Social Twitter page.

Cyberbullying

Make children aware of what cyberbullying looks like and how to block and report anyone online who is posting hurtful or upsetting content. Encourage them to report any cyberbullying they see, even if it is not aimed at them and reassure them that reporting someone to social networking websites is anonymous.

 

We hope that our online safety tips have been useful and are a start to helping you, your children and your business stay safe online. If we can be of help further then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Top Ten Free Social Media Resources

Do you want to improve your business’ social media presence without having to use expensive tools? We get it. That’s why we’ve created this post on our ‘Top Ten Free Social Media Resources’. Happy posting!

Scheduling

  • TweetDeck (and other in-website tools) are a brilliant platform for any business whose sole platform is Twitter. You won’t need to spend money on websites like Hootsuite for scheduling content across multiple channels as you have everything you need for your main social channel. With TweetDeck, you can schedule tweets and check your reach and engagements alongside Twitter Analytics, which are linked within TweetDeck.
  • ColorStory is an app which you can use to edit your Instagram photos and schedule content. It is very easy to use and, as it’s an app, can be done on the go, allowing you to make best use of those little pockets of time in your day.

News and social listening

  • Social Media Examiner is a good website if you’re not sure where to start with social media. They have free reports on how social channels are being used, articles on how to get the best out of social media for your business and a podcast for learning on the go.
  • Google alerts are an easy way of keeping up to date with news in your industry. You can easily set an alert for a key word or phrase and get notified when content appears on Google with this phrase in it.

Photos

  • With Canva you can edit photos to add a quote over them, which is great if you want to post a testimonial or inspirational quote. You can adjust the size of your image to fit a Twitter header or a Facebook post with an image attached. You can also create a flyer, blog banner, or a presentation.
  • Pixabay have copyright free pictures that you can use in your marketing and social media.

Blog and email marketing

  • MailChimp can be used to gather your email subscribers and market to them with flyers and newsletters. MailChimp makes the mail merge a lot easier, allowing you to create lists of contacts and personalise them to a specific receiver- just be careful about GDPR and always get permission to use someone’s email address.
  • WordPress is a blogging platform and a great website builder that is easy to use. Blogging is a good way of keeping your current and potential clients up to date with any news and updates without bombarding them with emails and content. Your blog can also be shared across your other platforms, either in your ‘bio’ or in a post. Updating content on your website is key for SEO too.

Videos

  • iMovie- if you have an iPhone, then this one is for you. You can combine photos and videos to create unique content for your channels, which is great if you have a video shy team! Photos can be put together in a slide show and are categorised as a video, which the Facebook algorithms value more than pictures.
  • Splice is an app that adds music to videos, which is a fun way to make your Instagram posts more engaging. You could even combine your iMovie photo slideshow with music from Splice.

Guest Blog: Creating #IBDHour

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

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

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

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

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

What is #IBDHour?

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

Why a Twitter hour?

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

How Does it Work?

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

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

What have I learnt?

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

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

What’s the point?

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

@chicbeauty tweeting about IBD

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

Richard Harris

http://gutlessdick.com

@doobarz – Twitter/ Instagram/ Snapchat

@IBDHour – Twitter

Hosting a Twitter hour – the man behind #WiltsHour

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

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

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

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

Why did I set up WiltsHour?

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

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

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

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

 Why has WiltsHour Worked?

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

What have I learnt from WiltsHour?

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

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

 Where can I see WiltsHour next Year?

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

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

Thank you Wiltshire!!

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

Twitter tips for small business

Since coming into the world of self-employment and setting up my own social media business, naturally I’ve been taking a look at who’s around and if there’s anyone or anything I can help with. What I’ve found is that there are of course some really great tweeters about who do a great job of their business accounts but I also keep seeing some bad habits and twitter etiquette so I wanted to give some advice to anyone who may be tweeting blindly or wants to understand how to get better at being active in the space.

Here’s my 7 tips for improving your twitter presence that will result in other tweeters being much more inclined to follow, interact and recommend you.

  1. Be visual: use pictures, GIFS or video, this makes your content more engaging and will draw your customers in. People are 3 – 4 times more likely to take action on tweets with visuals. If you’re just tweeting text, in the mobile world we live in, you’re just going to get scrolled past. NB: You can now add up to 4 photos to a tweet and tag people in those photos.
  2. Use relevant hashtags: these help your content to be seen by more people and should be relevant to your business or audience (think industry and location). If there are local or national events happening these will usually have a hashtag too and if you can incorporate these relevantly then you’re giving yourself a lot more exposure. Don’t over # your tweets though as it becomes difficult to read. Twitter recommends not using more than 2 in any one tweet.
  3. Share other content and be social: don’t just tweet your own call to actions and sales messages. Join in with conversations and use twitter as a customer service tool to look for and respond to feedback about your business. Remember the Social in Social Media.
  4. Be timely: data shows us that customers who contact organisations online expect a response within one hour. Now, that isn’t going to be achievable for many businesses and that’s ok, but hopefully it goes a long way in helping you to see that social media isn’t traditional & answering a tweet 5 days after it comes in can be potentially damaging to your online reputation. Make it a part of your day – check twitter first thing before you open your emails, before and / or after your lunch break and again before you go home.
  5. Tweet regularly: there’s no definitive answer to how often you should or shouldn’t tweet but due to the instantaneous nature of twitter there’s so much content potentially populating your follower’s time lines that posting regularly will give your messages more opportunity to be seen. If you don’t have anything to say, don’t panic. I went to a conference recently where from @Alicemof from @wwf_uk said something that is a good reminder to us all: “The best time to post is when you’ve got something to say”. My top tip for cutting through all that twitter noise – create twitter lists. You can group people of similar category/industry and access their tweets specifically in order to keep up to date with what they’ve been saying. Access your lists on the move from the settings icon on your twitter account in the app.
  6. Don’t be lulled in by the promise of automation: time is precious and maintaining a successful twitter feed has the potential to take up a lot of your time. Automation can be useful if used in moderation but when your entire content plan is simply churned out through a scheduling tool week in week out it all becomes a bit samey and stagnant. There’s no spark, there’s no real time and thus there’s no connection. People buy from people. If you can’t connect with someone online when you’re in their space then please audit your strategy and why you’re using it. Computers aren’t humans and there’s no substitute for human interactions. I’m seeing accounts which are completely populated by algorithms, RSS feeds and automatic posts from Facebook and there’s no identity. For me, that’s never a good marketing or PR ploy.
  7. Spelling and grammar: In a nut shell, it doesn’t look professional if your grammar is off and you have typos here there and everywhere. 140 characters isn’t a lot to play with I know but practice makes perfect. Utilise your website for further details (dates, times, booking forms etc) and be creative and conversational with your tweets. Draw people in. Cutting words down into slang and text speak just to cram your message in only alienates people. Why? Because there is no universal way to abbreviate. We all do it differently so what might make sense to you may not make sense to many of those reading your content.

 “Always remember to be a person and build relationships when you’re online. That’s the simple secret to success.” – Natalie Luckham (that’s meee!)

If you’re looking to get to grips with Twitter more then give us a shout, we run social media health checks that can help outline where you can improve and develop. We also offer 1:1 mentoring and group training.