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The basics: content marketing

A bichon frisé dog leaps over a jump towards the camera. Text reads "content marketing."

Content marketing is one of those terms that gets thrown around all across the internet but, when you get people on their own, it turns out a lot of folks don’t really know what it means. This month I’m going to break it down for you and explain how it ties in to an organic, community driven social media strategy.

Brace yourself; this blog post gets a bit meta!

What even is content marketing?

Essentially everything is content. This blog post is content, your social media posts, podcasts you listen to, newsletters you subscribe to, videos you watch, it’s all content. However it is not all content marketing which is content specifically created:

  • For a target market.
  • To build know / like / trust factor.
  • With a focus on adding value over selling.

This blog post is content marketing; I’ve written it to educate small business owners on content marketing. My target market are small business owners and freelancers. I’ve noticed that the topic causes a lot of confusion for many of you so I’m educating you about it. The bonus is that through this blog post you also learn that I know about content marketing, I explain things well (hopefully) and I seem like a nice gal because I’m helping you out for free.

I did warn you it was going to get meta!

What is good content marketing?

The aim is to create content that’s genuinely useful to your target market and to offer it regularly. Knowing who you’re talking to is absolutely key (as with every other kind of marketing.) I could have created a campaign around agility training; a blog post about what it is and why it’s great, adorable photos and video clips of my talented pooch and I competing, the whole shebang. It would be great content but would it be great content marketing? No.

Happy Dog GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
GIF ID: TiLi, a bichon frisé, leaps over a jump and runs excitedly to an equally excited Alexis.

Why not? Because it’s not relevant to my target market or my own business and it doesn’t add value to your lives (unless you’re all secretly dog agility fans on the side.)

It really would make great content though!

Top tip: keep it relevant.

Content and community

Content is one of the ways you and your business can build and support your community. I talked more about business and community in a past blog post so I’m going to focus on how content marketing adds to that.

  • There are always going to be folks who can’t afford you yet; creating content which helps them out makes them far more likely to invest with you over other people when they can afford to.
  • Some people are really interested in things that have nothing to do with their work (very healthy if you ask me), so you may reach people who just have an interest in your industry but are likely to mention you to people they know who are your target market because your content is so awesome. They build their own relationships by sharing a great resource, you gain a potential lead. Everybody wins!
  • On a related note, shareable content is The Thing. Sure you could spend your cash on ads but you could also invest in creating amazing content that people share because it’s so good and that keeps people coming back to you. We’re getting picky with who we follow nowadays (also healthy), offering something useful is a fabulous way to ensure people want you in their feed.
  • It’s just a nice thing to do. Putting out useful content because you genuinely care about your audience and getting the warm fuzzies over the people who only support your free stuff is what community building is about. Not everyone will buy from or work with you, they have their reasons, be a good egg anyway.

Top tip: also share other people’s content with your community.

The content marketing tl;dr*

Personally, I love creating content for the sake of creating content, I just love the creative process, but even if you’re not there is so much to be gained from adding value to your community. It’s also worth noting that your content doesn’t have to take any specific form so you really can find something that works for you.

If you’d like to learn more about creating social media content in a stress free way, Out of the Jungle, my content creation course, kicks off on 21st September and I’d love to help you get out of the content creation jungle and ensure you never get lost there again.

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Why accessible content should be the next big trend

a person with pink hair in a wheelchair on a beach, hands in the air. Text above reads "accessibility is cool"

With reach being one of the key metrics people aim for on social media (I have a whole post on vanity metrics), it surprises me that making content accessible isn’t a higher priority for those same people. Why? Because accessibility directly impacts your reach and engagement. If you put out amazing content which can’t be consumed or understood by a percentage of people, those people can’t engage with it and aren’t going to share it or follow you.

Simply put, if you want to reach the maximum amount of people with your content, everyone needs to be able to consume and engage with it.

What is accessibility?

“Accessibility” refers to anything that makes your content accessible to more people. We’re talking captions / subtitles, image descriptions, content warnings, not using flashing or strobing effects in videos, including line breaks and utilising paragraphs in your text and using fonts which are easy to read.

There are many different types of disability which can affect how people consume content online and working to make what you share accessible to them is both good for business and a nice thing to do for your fellow humans.

Isn’t it hard / expensive / time consuming?

That really depends but it is becoming easier, cheaper and quicker to make your content accessible as technology advances. Ultimately it comes down to where you place value and therefore what you prioritise but if you’re on the fence about accessibility it’s worth noting that there are other benefits in terms of SEO and user experience, among other things.

Here are some of ways you can make your content more accessible.

Subtitles and captions

There are a lot of free auto-captioning tools available now and they are improving in accuracy, but I recommend listening to what deaf activist Rikki Poynter has to say about the issues with auto-captions. I use Rev for my video captions but before I started outsourcing I used YouTube’s auto-captions which I went in and manually edited. Transcripts of your video content are another useful way to make your content more accessible, or you could simply provide a written blog post which includes the same information.

Top tip: create fewer or shorter videos and spend the time you’ve saved editing auto-captions.

Alt text and image descriptions

Many social networks now offer options to add alt-text to your images, some even prompt you to do so. Whether you use the inbuilt options or add an image description to your caption, remember that you don’t need to describe the image in detail. Ensure you provide the key information or objects in the image or describe that parts which relate to the rest of the post.

Top tip: alt-text is also great for SEO.

Formatting and fonts

Sure that swirly font on a busy background looks super cute and is so on brand but can anyone actually read it? From Instagram captions using characters and symbols to create bold, italic or otherwise different fonts, to blog posts which are a wall of text, this is a real issue on the internet.

Try to format your captions and blog posts in a way which provides natural breaks and emphasises key information. Paragraphs, bullet points, bold or italic text, using headings and spacing your text out all makes it much easier to read for everyone, not only disabled people.

Top tip: when using hashtags as part of a caption, ensure they’re #CamelBackHashtags.

Content warnings

There has been a huge backlash against content warnings for reasons I will never understand because their purpose is to prepare people for something and give them the option to avoid it if they want to. They’re also not just for graphic topics; if you’re using strobing or flashing images or GIFs (which are best avoided), add a content warning for that at the start of the video or in a slide before if posting on something like Instagram Stories.

In written media when discussing potentially triggering topics, simply add “CW” or “CN” followed by the topic at the start of a post, for example “CN: violence.” In video you can add content warnings to the title, description and/or in the video itself.

Avoid censoring the topic in the content warning, as in CN: r*pe, as this will cause it to slip through filters that people may have set up to avoid seeing that content, it’s also not helpful for those using screen readers.

Top tip: use Twitter’s thread feature to keep the content itself away from the content warning.

Text and design

In both vocabulary and design, keep it simple. Avoid jargon, unless your demographic is people who will definitely understand it. Keep instructions clear and websites easy to navigate by using things like descriptive page titles and links.

Top tip: hire an accessibility consultant to check out your content and website.

The accessibility tl;dr*

Whether you do it because you want to actively include everyone in your content, to increase your reach or to boost your SEO, making your content accessible is worth the time and effort or money it costs you. Andrea Lausell’s video explains how important this is within creative and art circles and offers a more in depth explanation of some of the things I’ve covered here.

If you haven’t been making your content accessible so far, hopefully you feel more equipped and motivated to change that now. There is always more we can do to make our content more accessible, in writing this post I’ve made changes to my own Instagram 101 course (which includes accessibility tips specifically for Instagram) switching out PDFs for text documents. The key is to keep listening to disabled people and to do better when we know better.

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

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The Basics: IGTV

IGTV has been somewhat overlooked since it launched back in 2018. Instagram are starting to push it more this year by introducing ads, enabling creators to monetise their videos and allowing Instagram Lives to be saved to IGTV. So how does IGTV work and how can small businesses use it to improve their social presence and make sales?

What is IGTV?

Essentially it’s just long form video on Instagram. Whereas the Instagram feed allows videos of up to 1 minute, on IGTV you can share much longer videos, much like you would on YouTube. Although when it started out it was vertical video only, you can now also share landscape video making re-purposing video content from other platforms much easier.

While IGTV does have a standalone app, it’s also baked into the Instagram app. On profiles you can tap the IGTV logo to view videos rather than grid posts and you can share videos to your Stories as you would any other post (currently IGTV videos shared to stories do not cross post to Facebook.)

Is it worth your time?

I vote yes. We all know video is popular and is a great way to connect with your audience and longer form videos perform well on other platforms; Facebook recommends a minimum of 3 minutes for videos, for example. It’s also a way to avoid posting longer videos using the carousel function; many of us have got round Instagram’s 60 second limit by cutting longer videos into 1 minute sections and sharing as a carousel grid post. Wahey for no more faffing like that!

You can use hashtags for IGTV just like you would on Instagram proper so you have a great opportunity to have your video content discovered. Additionally IGTV videos are included in the explore feed and previews can be shared to your grid.

In big news, URLs in video descriptions are clickable! That means that IGTV gives you an opportunity to link to places without needing to send people to your bio link. This is a real game changer for Instagram and a great reason to consider creating longer form video content on the platform.

Accessibility note: you currently need to burn in subtitles for IGTV videos as you cannot upload caption files.

As an aside; pre-recorded videos are a great option for people who don’t love going live but want to dip their toe in the video waters.

What to post

Of course this will depend on your business and audience but here’s some ideas

  • Intro video; talk about who you are, what you do and why. Let people get to know you.
  • Product/service highlight: explain in detail one of your products or services, who it helps and how.
  • How to: how to use your product, how to do something relevant to your business, how to do something and why your product helps with that.
  • Interviews: chat with some interesting people and share it.
  • Vlogs: behind the scenes or day in the life style vlogs remain a popular type of content.
  • Testimonials: create a fun testimonial video or ask your clients to send a video clip saying how awesome you are!
  • Meet the team: if there’s more than one of you, why not introduce your team members and have them talk about about why they love working for you or what led them to do so.
  • News and views: talk about industry news or your thoughts on related news articles.

Devilishly Handsome Productions have shared some more ideas for Instagram video marketing over on their blog.

The IGTV basics tl;dr*

While it’s not set to overtake YouTube just yet, Instagram is such a popular platform that I think IGTV needs to be a part of your Insta-plan right now. With huge viewership on Stories and ever increasing app usage, it just makes sense to share any video content you create on the platform, even if you don’t have the resources to create content specifically for it.

Starting out on Instagram or looking to take the platform more seriously? Start sowing your social seeds with my free 5 day Instagram challenge. We start on Monday 6th July and I’d love you to be there.

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

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The Basics: Stories

This month in my series designed to help you get your small business on social media, even if you can’t afford a social media manager just yet, I’m talking about arguably my least favourite social media thing; Stories.

Stories are huge at the moment with brands and individuals alike but many small business owners are scared to use them. If that’s you, either because you don’t understand how or you just aren’t digging the concept (I feel you), allow me to explain why you should at least give them a go.

What are Stories?

Birthed by Snapchat, they are now a popular feature on several social platforms including Instagram and Facebook. Stories also appear at the top of the regular feeds although placement is determined by the infamous algorithm, taught by which Stories you regularly watch and interact with.

Stories are social posts which only last for 24 hours, unless it’s a highlight (we’ll get to that). These posts can be images, videos or text and can have “stickers” added to them. Stickers include things such as hashtags, events, user tags, GIFs, polls and emojis. There is a lot of space for creativity, fun and engagement in Stories posts.

Why are they popular?

I have no idea! I do know why they’re popular with businesses; increased engagement, a way to appear at the very top of the feed, useful features like polls, questions and chat, among other things.

For me, Stories aren’t my thing. I’ve never enjoyed watching them as a consumer. I don’t even watch my friends Stories (sorry…!), so I cannot tell you how or why they became so popular with the public. I can tell you that I use them for my own business and for clients and they can be incredible for marketing.

What to post

This depends on your brand but you can generally consider Stories to be a more relaxed place to post. The 24 hour only window offers an amazing opportunity to test content, offer sneak peaks and make your followers feel like they’re in on a secret.

On Stories, your brand has loosened its tie and clocked off

Your Stories posts do still need to be “on brand,” but maybe your brand has loosened its tie and clocked off. You can achieve this by, for example, overlaying fun videos with your brand colours, or maintaining your brand voice but using GIFs to add more expression.

What are Stories Highlights?

Highlights, currently only an Instagram feature, enable you to keep Stories posts live after their 24 hour expiry time. Highlights appear above your usual feed posts on your profile page so it’s wise to make use of this feature for important info, FAQs, promotions or other details which tell people a little more about you.

You can also change the cover image for highlights, enabling you to keep an overall style or theme on your profile page.

Beware: Highlights show in chronological order. You cannot rearrange posts in a Highlight so to add something to the start, you will need to post the new content, followed by all the content you wish to be in that highlight.

The Stories basics tl;dr*

Just appearing on Stories is a great start; they only stick around for 24 hours so you can test things and fail with minimal fear. Make sure you’re using stickers to add personality and encourage engagement.

If you want extra info and worksheets to get even more out of each blog post, like this month’s how-to guide to Stories stickers, plus even more useful social media tips appearing in your inbox twice a month, sign up to the Forest.

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

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The Basics: Instagram

This month in my series designed to help you get your small business on social media, even if you can’t afford a social media manager just yet, I’m returning to Instagram. I already wrote about using it for small business before I started this series, so now I want to really break down the basics.

I will be covering Stories in another post; this one is long enough as it is!

Your Profile

I recommend you switch your profile to a business profile, this allows you to connect your Instagram to your Facebook Page, use scheduling tools, access analytics/insights and run ads, among other things.

Once you’ve switched to a business profile and linked it to your Facebook page, if you have one, you need to fill it out.

Profile photo: This is the small, circular image that represents you across Instagram, including when you leave comments. Keep in mind that Instagram is especially mobile-centric and your profile picture will appear very small next to comments; a smiling face looks far better teeny tiny than a logo.

Username: Ideally this should be the same across your social profiles, preferably your business name or some variation of it. Make it as easy to remember as possible.

Website/link: Instagram allows you one clickable link and this is it. You can either change it every time you have a new blog post/video/product, etc, create a landing page on your website for social and add all relevant links there, or you can use one of the many third party tools out there.

In my opinion none of those options is inherently better or worse, so pick one and run with it! Remember that keeping a landing page or the link itself up to date can take a lot of extra time though.

Bio: You have 150 characters to play with here and I see so many businesses adding extra links in their bio which people can NOT click, please stop wasting space!

So what do you put in your bio? Who you are, what you do, who your target market is. This of it as an elevator pitch, only the elevator is only going up 1 floor and at lightning speed. Be creative; use emojis to save space and only provide the essential info.

Category: Select a relevant category for your business.

Contact options: Add all relevant contact details here; email address, telephone number, physical address and, if appropriate, add an action button to your profile. The action button will be added to your profile allowing people to take a specific action (action buttons are in partnership with other tools and depend on your location.)

Shopping: If you sell products, apply for shopping on Instagram. This will allow you to tag products and sell through Instagram, a fast growing market at the moment.

What to post

Many types of post perform well on Instagram depending on your niche. Flatlays, videos, personal posts, tips and tricks, let your imagination run wild. The key is a high quality image followed by an engaging caption. Dark, grainy, blurry images won’t perform as well. It is worth taking the time to create some graphics in a tool such as Canva, hunt down some awesome stock photos and/or set aside a bit of time every few months for Instagram photo shoots.

Captions can be long or short, but make sure the opening lures people in. I personally dislike the formulaic approach to captions but if that helps you to write captions that work, run with it.

If you’re selling products, make sure you also include products in your posts regularly.

Hashtag love

I feel like I bang on about hashtags all the livelong day but hashtags are where it’s at on Instagram. You can follow hashtags, meaning you can appear in feeds of people who are not following you but who are following a hashtag you use.

That said, using any and all hashtags is not the way to go. Use hashtags relevant to what you are posting, not only because people can report posts as being irrelevant in hashtag feeds but also because why do you want to reach people who aren’t interested in that post? Mix up your hashtags and keep saved packs of 25-30 organised by post type or topic so you can easily copy and paste them each time.

Top tip: Following hashtags is also amazing for outreach engagement.

The Instagram basics tl;dr*

Use a business profile, get your hashtag on and ensure you’re using high quality images on this very visual network.

If you want extra info and worksheets to get even more out of each blog post, like the Instagram cheat sheet for this month, plus even more useful social media tips appearing in your inbox twice a month, sign up to the Forest.

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

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The Basics: Pinterest

This month in my series designed to help you get your small business on social media, even if you can’t afford a social media manager just yet, I’m talking about Pinterest.

When I discussed how to choose a social network for your small business I mentioned that Pinterest isn’t a social network. So why, you may be asking, am I talking about it at all in a social media series? The answer is pretty simple; it can drive a lot of traffic.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is regularly slung into the “social media” barrel with the likes of Facebook and co, but it is really a search engine. Imagine if Google and Instagram got it together; an aesthetically pleasing search engine.

The premise is that it is a digital pin-board; you can “pin” anything you can find on the internet and collate those pins into boards so they are easy to find.

How do I use it?

First you need to set up a business account, this gives you access to stats, advertising and extra options which you don’t get with a standard account. Fill out your profile completely, explaining who you are and what you do, and ensure you claim your website and any other social accounts too. Claiming them links your Pinterest account to them, showing them as your official sites and enabling all Pins from those places to be credited to you.

Enable rich pins. Rich pins allow for extra information to be added to your Pins, meaning they stand out more in the feed and look more professional.

Next, set up some boards. These can be for different aspects of your business, different services you offer, or just relevant topics. To give you an idea, my own Pinterest boards include Facebook, Twitter and small biz tips and tricks. Make sure you also explain in the description of each board what it’s about.
Top Tip: make sure you also have a prominent board which contains only your content.

What to Pin

Pin things that your ideal client is interested in. If you’re a small, ethical clothing store, consider pinning information on ethical living more generally or sustainable living, maybe your ideal client is also vegan so you include pins about vegan leather alternatives. Don’t stray too far from your lane, but curate a Pinterest account which is of interest to your ideal client.

Keep in mind that people aren’t searching single words on Pinterest. Including slightly longer captions allows you to include more specific keywords. Rather than “clothing” or “fashion,” opt for “ethical clothing” or “sustainable fashion” or even “sustainable vegan fashion.”

Here is the key, make a note, write it down, put it on a sticky note, point: Pin mostly other people’s things! Pin things you’re reading across the internet, pin your favourite podcasts, pin tools and services you love, pin anything relevant that isn’t yours. Pinterest is hot on spam and you pinning only your content, that’s spam. The general rule of 80/20 (the 20% being your content) is a great way to make sure you’re still promoting your own things but are also curating an amazing, varied and useful account.

How to Pin

Make sure you are creating an image optimised for Pinterest for all content you want to Pin; blog posts, podcasts, videos, products, etc. Upload these images to wherever that content is hosted and include a description which will be shared whenever someone pins it.

I use the following code to add Pinnable images on my website, though there are other methods I have found this to be the most reliable.

<img src=”LINK TO SMALL IMAGE”
data-pin-url=”URL PIN LEADS TO ”
data-pin-media=”PINNABLE IMAGE URL”
data-pin-description=”PIN DESCRIPTION”/>

The Pinterest basics tl;dr*

Make your account a hub for everything your ideal client loves. Embrace the idea of sharing other’s content and offering value. Create a Pinnable image to everything you want to share.

If you want extra info on each blog post and even more useful social media tips appearing in your inbox twice a month, sign up to the Forest.

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

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The Basics: LinkedIn

This month in my series designed to help you get your small business on social media, even if you can’t afford a social media manager just yet, I’m talking about LinkedIn.

Once the boring, corporate sibling of the social networks, LinkedIn has undergone something of a rebrand in the past year or so. Now featuring video, pre-recorded & live, Facebook-style reactions on posts and, most interestingly, more personal posts and increased engagement.

While LinkedIn is still not for everyone, if you’re a B2B business, it is quite possibly the place to be.

LinkedIn Profile or Page?

LinkedIn has both personal profiles and business pages, much like Facebook. Unlike Facebook, you are expected to use your personal profile for business. For freelancers and solopreneurs personal profiles are often the best option, small businesses may benefit from a business page which offers analytics, ads and the ability to advertise jobs, among other things. My advice would be to start with a personal profile and see how it goes, if you have other employees and are a slightly larger business a page will likely become necessary.

The site does a great job of walking you through setting up your profile itself, so I won’t be breaking that down in this blog post.

What & when to post

As with every other network, this will depend on you, your business and your audience. Consistency is important, if you can’t commit to 5 posts a week then don’t aim for it, you can always increase your posting as you gain more content, more confidence and/or more time.

Remember it’s not only about sales or bigging yourself up, share the difficult moments and what you learned from them, be authentic. If you’ve been really busy and struggled to find time to post, post about that. Every post doesn’t need to be how well your business is doing, where people can buy from you or what you offer.

Engagement is crucial, because of this, I would advise that you work out how much time you have for LinkedIn and then divide that up into how many posts you could manage each week but also leave time for engagement. If you have an hour each week which you’d be happy to dedicate to LinkedIn, one or two posts is plenty and then use the rest of that time to engage with other people’s content, peruse some hashtags, read some articles and leave plenty of comments.

Not more hashtags?!

I love a hashtag; I’ve talked about using them on Instagram and Twitter and now I’m going to tell you to use them on LinkedIn too. Hashtag research is something most small business owners just don’t have time for, fortunately there is a great blog post about the hot 100 hashtags being used on the social network as of July 2019 so you can start there. Keep them relevant and don’t overdo them. Until recently I was seeing better results with more hashtags but this has definitely changed, so keep it to a couple of relevant hashtags and mix them up each time.

The LinkedIn basics tl;dr*

Don’t feel that you have to be a robot; be yourself but keep it professional. Be consistent and focus on engaging with others

When you’re ready to offload your social presence to an expert so you can dedicate your time to what you love, I’d love to hear from you.

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

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The Basics: Twitter

Continuing my series designed to help you get your small business on social media, even if you can’t afford a social media manager just yet, let’s look at an often misunderstood network; Twitter.

As a micro-blogging platform, succinct needs to be your watchword. With only 160 characters to play with in your bio and 280 in each tweet, Twitter is not for the verbose! To find out if you should be on Twitter, check out my post about how to choose a social network for your small business. If you’ve already decided that Twitter is for you, here’s what you need to know:

Your Profile

Twitter profiles are very much a less is more situation, so keep this in mind when setting up your profile.

Username: Your username or handle is @_____. This should, if at all possible, be the same as on every other social network. Usernames can be up to 15 characters in length so shortening of business names is often required. Be creative, but not too creative; people still need to know who you are. You can change this later but remember that your followers may find themselves tagging the wrong user if you do.

Name: Your name, the bold text that appears next to your username, can be up to 50 character and may contain emojis and special characters. Using either your real name, if you are a solopreneur, or your business’ full name are both good options. You can change your name at any time and it will not affect people tagging or searching for you on Twitter.

Profile photo: This is the small, circular image that represents you, it will appear next to every tweet you send and in your profile. Remember this image often appears very small, especially on mobile, so logos may be difficult to see. I recommend a photo of a face, with or without your logo on it, which both engages others and is more easily identifiable on the feed.

Cover photo/Header image: This is the large, long image at the top of your profile. Ensure any image you upload is designed to be the correct size for this space and takes into account the location of your profile photo before being uploaded. This is a great place to add sales, seasonal events or a little more visual information about your business.

About: Use your 160 characters wisely! Be specific about what you do, allow your personality to shine, embrace emojis if they fit with your brand but do not ramble. This is your sales pitch to anyone considering following you; make it good.

Website: Ensure you link to your website or, if you don’t have one, a landing page, email sign up page, or even another social media account. If you are pushing something specific you can change your website URL for the period you are promoting that to make it easy for new followers to find your special offer or event.

What & when to post

With the speed of the Twitter feed more is definitely more but do not sacrifice quality just to keep up. You can re-share evergreen content from your website/blog, tweaking the phrasing and/or image in the Tweet, retweet and share other content you love from across the internet. Again, be creative. You can use nuggets from a blog post to top up your Twitter feed. If you want to be really radical, don’t link to the original blog post, just offer up that useful content as is!

Consider including your thoughts on relevant topics or news items in your Tweets, this is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. What did you learn today? What went on behind the scenes today? Share your tips and tricks related to your business. Use the ability to post so often without it being spammy to offer a variety of content which can engage all kinds of people.

With that said, don’t feel you have to be posting constantly. Choose set hours on set days and spread your content out. The feed moves quickly but you don’t have to be in it all the time. If you can find 100 pieces of great quality content every day for Twitter, more power to you but, in my opinion, upwards of 5 tweets a day, 4 or more days a week is a winner, and remember to schedule time in your day to check and reply to messages.

As ever, remember that this is social media; engage, add value and forget the hard sell.

Twitter scheduling

I recommend scheduling your tweets. Unless you have time to sit on Twitter and manually post 5 or more times a day, apps like Buffer can save you a lot of time and also allow you to quickly re-schedule still relevant tweets, meaning less time scrambling for more content.

The Twitter basics tl;dr*

Be concise! Don’t feel you have to post every hour of every day, find a schedule that suits you. Try a variety of content and don’t be afraid to re-share things you’ve already posted.
And of course, get posting and see what works!

If and when you’re ready for someone to manage your social media for your small business, please get in touch so we can discuss how I can help you free up your time and take the stress out of social.

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

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The Basics: Facebook

So you’ve just started your small business and want to get out there on social media. Great! Those early days can be difficult and maybe you can’t afford a social media manager just yet so just how do you kick off your social presence on your own?

In this series I’ll be helping you do just that. I explained how to choose a social network last month so I’m jumping right in with the king of social networks, The Social Network, Facebook.

Your Page

It is against Facebook’s T&Cs to use a personal profile for business activities. You need to create a Page for your business, this will also give you insights, the option to advertise and many other useful tools which a personal profile doesn’t.
Once you’ve created your page ensure you have filled in the following:

Profile photo: This is the small, circular image that represents you page on the page and in comments. Logos are a great option but so is a smiling face with or without your logo on it.

Cover photo/Header image: This is the large, long image at the top of your page. As of writing this can also be a video or a slideshow. Ensure any image you upload is designed to be the correct size for this space before being uploaded.

About: Select an appropriate category for your Page and fill out relevant price, location, opening hours and other information. Alongside the “about” section, also ensure your “My Story” section is filled out with an image & explain about your business. A short snippet of the text will be shown on your page so keep the key information in the first few words.

Page username: This creates a short url which is easy to share & add to print materials, try to keep it short and simple but still close to your business name as possible.

Template & tabs: Found in settings, first select a template based on your business type and needs and then reorganise your tabs. If you will be posting a lot of images, make the photos tab higher up, if you’re using the “shop” tab make that prominent too. Services are a good choice to be in your top 3 tabs too.

Messaging: In settings again, set up automated responses to avoid messages go unresponded to for long. You can use this option to direct people to other means of contact or just let them know that you’ll get back to them soon.

What & when to post

I am a “less is more” advocate when it comes to Facebook. The algorithm means that the more you post, the more competition each of your posts has. There are no hard & fast rules with social media so see what works for your audience; once a week? Three times a week? Keep an eye on your insights and see what’s doing well and what’s falling flat.

Original & shareable content is the gold standard for Facebook. Share your thoughts, establish yourself as an expert in your field with what you’re posting. Keep in mind that this is social media, focus more on community building and adding value than the hard sell.

Keep your feed tidy. Honestly, there are bigger things to worry about but this is the thing that bugs me the most and shows a lack of professionalism. You updated your business info? Great! Now delete the automatic post that is sitting on your feed about it. Better yet, nip into settings and turn off the auto post for Page updates all together! Your Page’s feed is your shop window, everything on there should be of value or relevant, updated opening hours is not when they appear in your “about” info anyway.

Facebook Pages are able to share Stories just like personal profiles and, with Stories now boasting 500 million daily active users, you may want to focus more on those and less on the news feed.

The Facebook basics tl;dr*

Firstly, make sure you’re using a Page, not a personal profile, and that it is filled out completely.
Secondly, get posting and see what works!

If and when you’re ready for someone to manage your social media for your small business, please get in touch so we can discuss how I can help you free up your time and take the stress out of social.

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

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How to choose a social network for small business

choose a social network for small business

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of social networks for you to choose from now, and a lot of ways to exist on each. Should you be posting every business moment to Snapchat? Or is Instagram where it’s at? Is Twitter worth it? Can you sell on TikTok? What about Facebook?

Follow the crowd

Choosing a platform is actually much simpler than many businesses realise; go where your audience is.

You know your clients and customers, if they mention that they saw a local event on Facebook while they’re stood at your checkout, make a mental note. If they have social links in their email signature, jot it down. Get an idea of where the people who already love you like to hang out online.
Starting where your current client base already is allows you to leverage them to build your reputation online quickly and it’s a strong indicator that people like them are also on that platform.

Consider the core of the platform

Instagram is all about stunning visuals. To succeed on the ‘gram you need great photos or videos, they love a flat-lay over there! I’ve actually written a more in depth look at Instagram for small business if your business lends itself to gorgeous images.

Twitter is very politically charged and is still figuring out what and how it wants to be going forward. With the addition of their new swipe right camera (it’s not Twitter Stories, apparently) they are definitely heading in a more visual direction but for the moment it remains a place for short thoughts on divisive issues.

Facebook is the grandfather of social media now and, despite the seemingly endless slew of bad press, is still a very popular platform. It is no longer true that “everyone is on Facebook,” but there are certainly plenty of people there to make it an attractive option and with the ability to share photos, videos, long-form text, Stories, and even events, it can be very useful. If you are targeting younger generations though, you may want to look elsewhere.

Snapchat may appear to be on the ropes but they are coming out fighting.  In fact, this quarter Snap Inc grew for the first time in a year. With updates to their VR & AR lenses, teaming up with Tinder and getting really creative with their app can offer, I’m not writing them off just yet. It’s still popular with younger users and offers a feeling of privacy which is increasingly valuable in an age of data mining and breaches.

YouTube is commonly not considered a social platform, more often used to house videos to be embedded on websites or shared elsewhere. It’s a very saturated network but, for personal brands especially, it can be a great way to build your reputation and make human connections.

Why have I not mentioned Pinterest? Pinterest is a very pretty search engine, not a social network.

The social network decision tl;dr*

So which social network should your small business be on? Pick one or two that suit your business based on what the platform is about and where your customers are.

If you need advice, or are looking for someone to help you with your social media, please get in touch so we can discuss how I can help you free up your time and take the stress out of social.

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