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Why your small business needs a website

small business website

You may have seen the news that Facebook and its family of apps dealt with a huge outage last month, the longest in the company’s history. If you’re running your small business through social media you may have felt a rising panic as the downtime ticked into hours. How will your customers find you? How will you contact them? How much money have you possibly lost out on? That is exactly why your small business needs a website.

At the mercy of the platform

Social media platforms are great; they offer an amazing way to reach new people, to connect with valued customers, are free to use (mostly…I’ll discuss declining organic reach in another post!) and you can even sell on them now. Websites cost money, time and often require some degree of tech know-how, sounds like a no-brainer, right?  Social media wins, hands down.

In reality, every social media platform has the right to change their terms of service, their requirements, or even delete your profile entirely, without reason, if they want to. You do not have a contract with them, you are not even paying for their service, you are entirely at the mercy of the platform. Equally if, as happened last month, that platform is down, your customers have no way to contact you and vice-versa.

What does a small business website need?

Hopefully you now understand why running your business purely through social media is risky at best but maybe you’re not sure what exactly you would do with a website. There are several options depending on your budget, business and branding.

The simplest and cheapest option is a one-page website which, as the name suggests, has one page explaining who you are and what you do, maybe links to your social media pages, preferably with an email sign-up form or link (that’s for another post), and provides contact details. There are many ways to do this for free or at very low cost if you’re on a tight budget.

If you want something a little more complex you can opt for a website with multiple pages, maybe with the addition of a blog, testimonial or portfolio pages, or maybe your business would really benefit from a beautiful gallery of photos on your website. If you’re leveraging video for your business, you can embed those in your website, re-purposing Live videos you’ve done on social media. If you offer various products or services, multiple pages allow you to give each a more detailed explanation for each without people who are looking for something specific feeling irritated at a long sales pitch for your other offerings.

There is also the e-commerce option where you sell directly through your website. There are various ways to achieve this with specific selling platforms, like Shopify, or through themes or extensions for your current website, like Woocommerce. Again, there are options depending on your budget and technical knowledge but e-commerce is more complicated than a standard website due to the need for extra levels of security, payment processing, stock management, etc.

The small business website tl;dr*

So does your small business need a website? Yes! What should you do with that website? Whatever suits your business’ needs. That is the beauty of a website; you have control of it and it can grow with your business.

If you need advice, or are looking for someone to manage your social media for you, please get in touch so we can discuss how I can help you free up your time to focus on what you do best, knowing your online presence is in safe hands.

*tl;dr = too long; didn’t read. The key information from the post.

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Social media holidays and small business

a jar of small hearts spills onto a white table

It may surprise you to know that I didn’t create Valentine’s content for any of my clients this year. One of the great social media holidays and yet not a single red heart or slushy sentence appeared on the content calendars I was in charge of, not even a sneaky Valentines related hashtag.

It’s easy to see that as a missed opportunity, to view every holiday; official, hashtag or otherwise, as a chance to promote yourself and reach people who may not have heard of you. In my opinion though, in the same vein as my thoughts about Instagram hashtags, relevancy is key. If you cannot create relevant content around that holiday, don’t create content for it at all.

That’s not to say that I don’t think a creative slant on a holiday can make it relevant to a business that may initially seem totally disconnected from the ethos of the holiday itself but, with authenticity being the watchword of social media lately, trying to push your square peg into a heart-shaped hole is counter-intuitive.

Making holidays work for your business

Your content for social media holidays needs to be tailored to both your audience and your business. You do not need to celebrate every holiday!
Continuing with the Valentines theme, if you are a divorce solicitor you could opt for a sardonic or humorous tone with your Valentines content like a spouse giving a Valentine’s card with a divorce request letter slipped inside, but only if that is part of your brand and your followers enjoy and expect that kind of content.
If you can’t find a way to create holiday content in line with your brand, look for hashtag holidays around the main event. Singles Awareness Day, for example, might fit your business better. Create content for those holidays instead to give you the best of both worlds; exposure and authenticity.

Different content for different platforms

There are some holidays which do cross platforms. When Christmas rolls around you will find a lot of holiday content on all social media platforms but the same is not true for all holidays. “Hashtag holidays” are a great example of this given that hashtags aren’t well integrated into the more static Facebook feed but are a key part of the fast moving Twitter and Instagram timelines. Remember this when you’re creating your content; you can re-purpose your content across your different accounts but tweak it so it suits the platform you’re posting on.
When it comes to relevant hashtag holidays you may want to go all out on Twitter but just craft one Facebook post around it which is inspired by, but doesn’t mention, the hashtag in question.

The social media holiday tl;dr*

How do you use holidays in your social media marketing? Don’t try to celebrate them all! Choose relevant holidays but be prepared to get creative too and tailor your content for the platform you’re posting on.

If you need advice, or are looking for someone to manage your social media for you, please get in touch so we can discuss how I can help you free up your time to focus on what you do best, knowing your social presence is in safe hands.

*tl;dr = too long; didn’t read. The key information from the post.

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Instagram for small businesses

I have lost count of the questions I see about how to use Instagram as a small business. From “how do I grow on Instagram?” to “what do I post on Instagram?” and even “do I have to use those sketchy techniques to succeed?”

When I see small business owners ask this in my favourite Facebook groups I will always pose this question:

Do you want a million followers who might like your posts and scroll on? Or do you want a thousand followers who really engage with your content and will likely buy from you?

Generally that question seems to make everything become clearer for people. In a world where it’s all about how many followers you have, it reminds small business owners that quality is more important than quantity.

How do you grow on Instagram?

Find your tribe! Figure out who you want to work with or sell to and then show those people who you are and why you are relevant to them. Find and follow people who are interested in what you offer, follow relevant hashtags, get a feel for your community and then get involved in that community; leave useful comments on others’ posts and like other users’ photos.

Hashtags are so important and so many small businesses are not using them properly. I tend to see one of two things on small business profiles; posts with all the top trending hashtags added, relevant or not, or posts with zero hashtags at all. With the ability to follow hashtags, and users being able to report irrelevant posts in those hashtags, hashtags have become even more important on a platform where they were already a big deal.
The key is relevancy and researching the tags you’re using. Adding top trending hashtags will see your post lost in a feed amongst a million other photos. Use smaller, more niche hashtags to actually see your reach and engagement increase.

What do you post?

This will depend on your business but authenticity is hugely important, in 2019 more than ever, so don’t try to be something you’re not.
If you’re a fun-loving Tarot reader who doesn’t like life too seriously, share your behind the scenes laughter alongside your thoughts on certain cards.
If you’re quiet and shy but know a lot about human psychology, share a little of your story and how your knowledge has helped you as well as others.
If you’re a bit sweary but also an expert on pets, let your personality show while you share your advice, although maybe tone down the swearing a little!

Do you need to use black-hat techniques?

No!

Unless all you’re interested in is follower numbers, and even if that is all you’re interested in, I never ever recommend buying followers, comment pods, automated follows & unfollows, or other less than honest methods. For one, Instagram is continually working to block the third party apps that enable this and ban accounts found to be using these methods, but primarily because, as I mentioned before, authenticity is king.
I am proud, and lucky, to work with businesses with morals and manners, with business owners who value honesty and real followers over big numbers. I help these businesses reach potential customers who are genuinely interested in what they offer.

The Instagram tl;dr*

So how do you use Instagram if you’re a small business? Be authentic, engage with your community and leverage relevant hashtags. It really is that simple.

If you need advice, or are looking for someone to manage your social media for you, please get in touch so we can discuss how I can help you free up your time to focus on what you do best, knowing your social presence is in safe hands.

*tl;dr = too long; didn’t read. The key information from the post.

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Getting into the 2019 groove

As I find my 2019 groove and get settled into a comfortable workflow I thought I’d share some of my January set-up and my behind-the-scenes process.

This year I’ve invested in a business goals workbook for Bushnell Community Solutions to support my own growth & behind the scenes planning, so I’ve been taking some time to work through that and really clarify my own business values. It was important for me to look at some of the lessons I learned last year and use them to improve my business interactions and offerings for 2019.

The first week of January for me was primarily replying to emails that had built up after I had to bring forward my planned finish date for the Christmas holidays to go and see a much loved friend before she died. I am so grateful to have been able to spend that time with her and also to my clients who were so understanding.

Once the email backlog was dealt with I cracked into the 2019 planning for my social media clients. I’m using an all singing, all dancing content planner from Heart and Soul Digital to keep all my content ideas, planning and stats in one place. Bonus points because I can also print out hard copies to show clients what is working, what I recommend changing and why, when we’re discussing their strategy and plans through the year.

January this year is very much a workflow focused month for me as I set up and modify a new content planning system that will then work for me for the months to come.
I plan content at least a week ahead, deciding what types of content are appropriate, looking at what drove engagement in the previous weeks, writing copy for each post, finding or creating accompanying media, researching relevant hashtags and finally scheduling the posts.

If you need a hand with your online presence, do get in touch, and I wish you a very happy and stress-minimal 2019!