It’s Always Been About Engagement

There’s been a bit of a to-do about the latest news from Facebook about how the news feed will be changing.  If you haven’t heard the news, then you can read the announcement from Mark Zuckerberg here.

One focus that did come through is that it is about ‘meaningful interactions’.  Engagement and conversation.

The things is, social media should always be about this.  It shouldn’t be about using it as a media tool to spout all about what you have to sell.

We all too often forget the word ‘SOCIAL’ in social media.  And social is all about interactions.  It’s not about one-sided conversation.  What’s social about that?

So, are you being social enough on social media?

Are you reading what others are saying and responding to it?

Are you opening up conversation or closing it down?

Be more social on social media and it will definitely work better for you!

My Social Media Focus For 2018

First of all, in case you haven’t heard it enough, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I truly hope this year brings you all the success you desire.

But, of course, success doesn’t just come from desiring it.  It comes from getting stuff done too!  So, I thought I’d share with you what I will mainly be focusing on with my own social media activity in 2018.

It really follows on from what I started to do in 2017 and that is VIDEO!  Video is such an important element of your social media activity now.  I have never seen as much engagement on my social media platforms as I have when I started incorporating video posts on a regular basis.  So, this will be something I’m continuing without a doubt in 2018.

I will be creating videos up to 1 minute long at least 3 times a week, and sharing those videos on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  The preference would be to have differing content on each of the platforms, but I know I don’t have the time to do that.  Better for me to get as many views of the same video as possible, than restricting those numbers by sharing it on only one platform.

It’s a good idea to add subtitles to your videos, as so many people watch without audio.  To do this, I use an app called Clips to record my videos on my iPhone (unfortunately, I don’t think there is an Android alternative).  This adds the subtitles as you are recording your video.  It doesn’t get them all exactly right, but just go back after and edit any mistakes, and it’s a really quick way of getting subtitles on your video without creating long winded SRT files.

The whole process of creating and uploading a video to each platform takes me about 5 minutes.  Which is why it’s achievable to aim for posting several videos a week.  I aim for a one take video.  They may not be absolutely perfect, but far better to post a good video several times a week, than never post a perfect video because I don’t have time to create it!

Another type of video I’m going to be using in 2018 is more LIVE video!  I ended last year by going live 14 times during December on my Facebook page.  I plan to continue this, but with a more focused approach and a live schedule.  I’m also going to go live more on Twitter, via Periscope, and possibly stream the same live broadcast to both at the same time to compare viewer figures.

And finally, I’m going to start creating some vlogs for YouTube!  For all I was posting short video content direct to my social media platforms last year, I created very little content for YouTube.  I have decided to start doing a weekly blog (video blog), taking you along with me to speaking engagements and training sessions, as well as sharing some social media and small business hints and tips!

That’s a lot of video content!  But video is going to be more key than ever in 2018 and can’t be ignored.  If you’ve never created a video for social media, it’s time to get started.  Believe me, there are very fee people in this world who enjoy being in front of the camera!  But the more you do it, the more you get used to it.  No one will be scrutinising how you look or sound other than you!  They care more about your message.  So, jump out of that comfort zone and hit that record button!

7 Things To Do During The Christmas Wind Down

For some businesses, Christmas time is their craziest time of year.  While for others, it’s the quietest time of the year.  If you’re in the crazy camp, then this post won’t be much use to you (but can be applied at your quieter times).  But for those of you who are currently twiddling your thumbs, I thought I’d suggest a few things you could be doing during this ‘down time’.  December has actually been a busy one for me, but next week gets a little quieter, with only one course to run, so I’ll be putting some of this in to action myself!

1. Evaluate the Year

It’s a really good opportunity to spend time evaluating how 2017 has been for your business.  Do an analysis of all your numbers.  Profit and turnover are the obvious ones.  But what about your email list?  Social media following?  Customer numbers?  Number of new products or services released? And look at what worked well in the year and what didn’t work so well.  Marketing campaigns.  Social media activity.  Which products/services sold best?  And think about the best and worst things that happened in your business this year.  It’s hard to grow moving forward if you don’t know how you’ve previously performed, so this will give you a basis for step 2…

2. Set Your Goals For The Year Ahead

It’s so important to set out your goals for what you want to achieve in the year ahead.  Not just financial but life too, as this will relate to the financial success of your business.  You should also think about the numbers mentioned above too and how you want to grow them, such as your email list and social media following.  Consider the new offerings you want to create and how you want your team to grow.  And set yourself a big scary goal too!  One that will make 2018 the best year ever for you!  It’s been proven that goals are more likely to be achieved if they’re written down, so make the time to write down all of the above.  I have treated myself to this workbook to help my plan for the year.

3. Create Some Content

When we’re in the throws of day-to-day work, it can be hard to find time to create good content for social media.  This time offers you the opportunity to have some content ready and waiting for the new year.  This could be blog posts, videos, images, written updates, GIFs, infographics, or any other form of content that will work well for your business.  You could also create a content calendar for the year, outlining what content you want to be released when through the year.

4. Design a New Product/Service Offering

If you’d love to offer something new to your customers next year, now is a great time to start creating that product or service.  Think about the products and services that worked best in 2017 and how you could advance on those in 2018.  I have a new programme I’m launching in the new year, and I’m going to start recording it next week.

5.Create a Launch Strategy

Now you have your new product or service, you could create a launch strategy for how you’re going to let you customers know about it.  Write emails, social media posts, create videos, and do whatever is included within your launch strategy so it’s all ready to go.  Set the sequence to build up to the launch, and work out how you’re going to wow those who have purchased the product so they talk about it!

6. Learn Something New

I’m a big fan of learning.  It’s definitely been the number one factor in growing my business over the 8 years I’ve been in business (and of course, implementing what I’ve learnt!).  To me, any down time is an opportunity to learn something new.  Grab a book that you know will impact your success in 2018.  Or sign up to an online course and learn about a new topic.  I worked with Fresh Bananas this year on creating a social media marketing module for their online SEO course.  If you want to learn about SEO, with a bit of social media thrown in, then take a look here.  And, obviously, if you’re looking for social media success in 2018, then you need a copy of this book!!

7. Take a Break

Sometimes we can push ourselves too much, and a break is actually a good thing for our business. Christmas is busy enough without adding extra pressure on yourself.  If you’ve had a busy year, but the next couple of weeks are really quiet for you, then relax and enjoy them!  You’ll be ready to hit 2018 refreshed and ready for your best year ever!!!

LIVEMAS 2017!

Last year, I made the decision to go live on my Facebook page every day in December in the lead up to Christmas Day.  I didn’t manage it!  But in total, I went live 12 times during December, which was more than I’d done the whole year!

So, I’m giving it a go again this year to see if I can beat my 12 days record!

I’ve just done my first LiveMas video.  You can watch it here.  In it, I talk about what LiveMas is all about and how you can get involved by requesting certain content.

And I’d love it if you tag me in any live videos you are inspired to do as a result.  Yes, it is a bit scary going live.  But the big advantage is that that means very few businesses do it.  It offers a great opportunity to stand out.

Time to take action and hit that live button!

Head here to watch LiveMas day one, and don’t forgot to like my Facebook page too so you can watch the rest of the LiveMas streams!

Stop Selling To Start Selling

I’ve just come back from an event with multiple speakers.  It was an exhibition, so the speakers were from businesses that were exhibiting at the event.  And it really struck me the big difference between the 5 talks I sat in and listened to.

There were two types of talks – those that gave information, knowledge and advice, and those that simply sold what they sell.  And, I wonder if you can guess which was most successful?!

In general, we don’t enjoy being sold to.  We don’t want to listen to how great your product or service is.  We don’t want to listen in minute detail to all the different features of your product/service.  We don’t want a demo.  We don’t want to be BORED!!!

Instead, people come to these events to gain knowledge and help and advice.  It’s why I went.  I was particularly drawn to a talk about increasing leads in to your business.  It’s something I’m really committing to at the moment (you may have noticed!  There’s a bar across the top of my page, a form in the side bar, and a popup if you haven’t seen it popup before!  Oh, and I’ll probably tag one on to the end of this post too!).  I was so disappointed when the talk was in fact about the company’s software that can provide leads in to your business.  Very useful I’m sure.  But I would have been more likely to take interest in the software if the talk first gave guidance on how to build leads.  In fact, the person next to me left half way through the talk.

The talks that seemed to pull the biggest crowds and the most note-taking, were those that gave lots of value.  Because that is what people want!  VALUE!!!  Give them something valuable, they’ll believe more in you and your product/service and be far more likely to buy.

Social media, of course, is no exception.  If you use it purely as a means to broadcast about your product or service, then it’s likely you’ll have much success.  Instead, you should be using social media to give value and build relationships!  Yes, it takes time.  But you’ll make far more sales this way than if you are posting sales messages.

So, stop selling to start selling please!!!

Here comes the lead capture….

If you get stuck for how to win customers on social media without posting constant sales messages, then you may want to have a watch of my free webinar recording – 5 Ways To Win Customers With Social Media.  You can download it by filling in the form below!







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What Should We and Shouldn’t We Be Posting on LinkedIn?

It feels like LinkedIn has had a bit of a revival recently.  The new layout seems to be working well.  The app has improved.  And, it seems that people are committing to putting content out via their personal LinkedIn profiles.  I’m really enjoying being part of it!

But, I have seen a lot of posts recently on LinkedIn that have questioned what should go on LinkedIn and what should be saved for Facebook.  I’ve also seen people be lambasted for posting something on LinkedIn, reminding them that it is a professional network and what they have been posted would have been better placed elsewhere.

The fact is, there are no rules when it comes to social media.  I’m often asked to talk about the ‘etiquette’ of social media and the do’s and don’ts.  The reality is, they don’t exist.  Only in the eyes of the beholder!!!  The important thing is to stick with what is right for you.  I don’t swear on social media.  It just doesn’t fit with me and my personality.  But it doesn’t mean that not swearing is a rule.  In fact, on some platforms, businesses are having huge success because they do swear and are using the same language as their target audience.

Yes, LinkedIn is a more business-focused platform.  It’s a place to network with other business people.  But go to a live networking event, and only around 50% of the conversations will centre around business.  You may chat to someone about your dreadful journey getting there due to an RTA.  Or talk about how the weather is unseasonably hot for November.  Or about how your daughter kept you up all night (did you see my post about this on LinkedIn the other day?!).  Networking doesn’t have to mean 100% business conversation.  But if you don’t want to share personal details, that’s fine too.  It comes down to choice after all.

There is a somewhat infamous article on LinkedIn (you can find it here.  Be warned, if you don’t like bad language you may not want to read it!) that divided the opinions of its audience.  The article has, at the time of writing, received nearly 10k likes and 1700 comments.  If the author of the post was to just talk about how having a shed in the garden could be the answer to your home working problems, it definitely would never have received this kind of response.  Does that mean you should follow suit?  No, unless that fits with you and your brand, and your audience too.

We can choose to be bland, and the same as everyone else, to fit in, to make sure we’re not breaking any unwritten rules.  But if we do this, we won’t stand out.  Instead, we should embrace our personalities.   You don’t leave your personality at the door when you enter a networking event, so why leave it on the login page of LinkedIn.  Take it in there with you.  It could well help you stand out.

All that said, what would my advice be for what you ‘could’ rather than ‘should’ post on LinkedIn?

1. SHARE KNOWLEDGE

People like to learn new things.  So, share knowledge.  This could be links to your own blog posts, links to articles or short tips.

2. WHAT ARE YOU UP TO?

It can be hard to understand what businesses do.  Give people an insight in to what goes on in your business by sharing a snippet of your day.

3. OPINION PIECES

I think LinkedIn is a really great place for discussion.  And the more comments your post receives, the more people that will see it.  So, open up discussion around a topic by sharing your opinion.

4. ASK QUESTIONS

Yes, I shared a semi-personal post the other day about my daughter keeping me awake.  But the point of the post is whether we should soldier on when hit with exhaustion as business owners, or should we accept defeat and rest when needed.  It was turned in to a question.  Asking questions raises discussion as well, so think of the questions you could be asking.

5. VIDEO

You can load video directly to LinkedIn rather than having to share a link to a YouTube or Vimeo video.  I’ve been using this a lot lately, sharing around 3 short videos a week, and they’ve had a brilliant impact!  They don’t have to be Steven Spielberg masterpieces.  Just you talking to camera, recorded on your smartphone, is enough.  This allows people to get to know you, plus you can share some of the knowledge you have!

6. LEAD CAPTURES

Direct people to a webpage where they can enter their name and email address to receive a document or video.  These are great for building your email list.

7. OFFERS

None of the above focus on selling.  But now and again, we need to remind people they can buy from us!  Focus 80% of your posts on selling nothing, and then 20% on promoting your products or services.

These are just a few ideas.  Of course, what you post is completely up to you!!  There are no rules after all!!

I’m running a LIVE online LinkedIn course – Win Business With LinkedIn – on Tuesday 12th December.  To find out more, and book your place, just CLICK HERE!

7 Ways To Be More Productive

I’m an honest person, and so I’m going to hold my hands up and admit that I’ve really struggled for productivity this year.  I will go through phases where I can be really productive and then phases where I will find myself procrastinating all too easily.  As I balance both running a business and raising my two young girls, I don’t work full time each week.  And often my working days are spent out delivering training or speaking at events.  And so, it’s even more important for me to be as productive as possible when I am at my desk.

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So, I have committed to being a more productive person and squeezing more out of a day.  You’ll always hear it said that the world’s great entrepreneurs have only 24 hours in a day too, it’s what they do with those 24 hours that counts.  It’s not necessarily about working harder.  Much more about being smart with your time and getting the right stuff done.

So, that being said, I thought I would share with you some of the things I have been doing over the recent months to increase my productivity.  And the impact has honestly been HUGE!

 

1. GETTING UP AT 5.30am

This is something I’ve done on and off since my second daughter was born 2.5 years ago.  But I would usually allow myself to lie in bed until the girls woke up if one or both of them had had a particularly bad night.  As such, I would very quickly slip out of the habit.  Now, no matter how bad the night is, my alarm goes off at 5.30am and I get up.  This gives me approximately 40 minutes to myself, and occasionally a little longer if I’m lucky, before the house awakens.  This seems to serve two purposes to me.  I have a bit of extra time to do stuff.  Some days I do a workout, if I don’t have a gym session planned that day.  Other days I crack on straight away with some work.  But the other thing I have found is that if I get up at 5.30am and have that bit of time to myself in the morning, I seem to be more productive and alert for the rest of the day.  It’s like 5.30am is my magic wake up time.  And if I lie in bed until 6.15am, or whatever time the ‘mummy’ cries start, my day just doesn’t go the same way.

 

2. MEDITATING

I’ve read and heard over and over again about the benefits of meditating.  But I’ve never really put the time aside to do it, or to really understand what it involves.  So, I decided to give it a shot.  I now meditate about 5 times a week.  Usually, I fit this in first thing, either after my morning workout, or before I start doing some work.  I only spend 10 minutes but it seems to tune in my head for the day.  I started my downloading the Headspace app and working through the ten free beginners sessions on there.  And now, I search YouTube for 10 minute guided meditations, choosing one that I find fitting for that day, such as anxiety-relief if I’ve got something anxiety-inducing coming up that day, or even productivity if I want to squeeze as much as I can out of the day.  It really does help.  There’s no lotus posing or humming involved!  I just sit on my sofa, focusing on my breathing and listening to the guide.

 

3. FOCUS ON ONE BIG THING

Each week, I think of the one thing I want to accomplish that week.  It could be to finish a certain piece of work. But mostly, I try to focus this on my marketing, such as creating a new Facebook Ad campaign, or creating a lead capture.  I also then pick one thing each day that I really want to complete, and would be content if it were the only thing that got completed that day.  This usually would align with the one big thing for the week.  Then I get to work on that thing, before moving on to any other tasks.

 

4. USING A PRODUCTIVITY PLANNER

I have invested in a productivity planner (you can get the one I use here).  I really like the way it’s set up.  You add your one thing for the day, then you add the next more important items you need to complete, then any other items after that.  The book focuses on you working in 25 minute blasts, then having a 5 minute break to make a brew, use the loo, or whatever else you need to do (yes, I purposefully made that rhyme!).  I set the timer on my phone for 25 minutes, and I don’t let myself wander from that task until the 25 minutes is up.  It really does work!  The key with this is to also not create too long a to-do list for each day.  Just focus on the main tasks, and get them done!

 

5. PUT THE PHONE AWAY

When my phone is alongside me, I naturally find myself grabbing for it.  Suddenly, I’ll realise I’m on Instagram, watching Instagram Stories!  Or checking the weather for the rest of the day!  Smartphones really can be such a time drain.  I do have my phone near me, to use it to time my 25 minutes, but it’s in a drawer out of sight, so I don’t keep unconsciously grabbing for it.

 

6. CHECKING EMAILS LESS

This is something I’ve been doing for a while now.  Firstly, I don’t have the notifications on that pop up.  If you’re busy working on a task on your PC, then a little notification appears to say you have an email, your attention is immediately diverted even if you don’t go to read that email.  I also only check emails twice a day, unless there is something incredibly important I’m waiting on.  This frees up so much time, but people still get responses to within a few hours, and I’ve never lost any business as a result.

 

7. SCHEDULING SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media had to come in there somewhere didn’t it!  The thing is, one of the big push backs I’m often given about social media is how much time it takes.  Yes, there is no magic way to have a great engaging social media presence without spending any time on it.  But then social media is a great way to help grow your business.  Checking emails every 30 minutes is not!  Scheduling definitely helps with this.  I do post a lot of live updates, but mostly I schedule.  I’ve got to admit, this is a breakfast task for me!  While the girls are having their breakfast, I spend 10 minutes having a think about what I want to get out on social media that day.  I also schedule several updates about a blog post as soon as I hit the publish button.  You’ll see a link to this blog post appear several times across my social media.  That’s all scheduled and is a part of my blog writing task.  My scheduling tool of choice is Buffer.

 

The result on my business on being more productivity has been phenomenal.  Since implementing much of the above, I have had the best months ever in my 8 years of running a business, while still having a couple of days off in the working week with my girls.

How do you make sure you’re more productive and use your 24 hours effectively?

 

5 Ways To Learn More With Less Time

I love learning.  And I’m sure you do too!  Yet, I feel that so many people miss the, often free, opportunities we are presented with to learn.  I think for the majority this comes down to time.  “I’m already really busy trying to grow my business, how can I possibly make time to learn how?”  Sound familiar?  I thought I’d share with you five ways I learn more without spending time I don’t have on doing it.

5 Ways To Learn More With Less Time

1. Listen to Podcasts

Podcasts are now my go to when I want to learn something new.  If I’m faced with a challenge in my business, or something I want to achieve, I search the podcast library for the solution.  I often find great new podcast channels as a result.  I don’t then stop what I’m doing and listen to the podcast.  Instead, I save it and then listen to it while I walk the dog.  Or while I’m in the gym.  Or cleaning the house.  The wireless headphones go in, and I listen to the podcast.  It’s amazing what you can learn in a half hour dog walk, and I always get home and have to jot down all the things I want to implement.

 

2. Watch YouTube Videos

YouTube is definitely another go to for me.  Especially for anything I need to visually learn, such as how to do something online.  I also love watching/listening to TED talks on YouTube, or searching for speeches from business people who inspire me.  Every evening, when I’m cooking dinner, I play a YouTube video at the same time, to learn while I cook!

 

3. READ Kindle Books

I can’t deny, I absolutely love a proper paperback book.  A Kindle to me just doesn’t beat the feel of a book in my hands.  Yet I still have a Kindle.  It lives in my bag.  And I have the Kindle app on my phone.  For a start, Kindle books are often much cheaper or on special offer, compared to paperbacks.  Many business book authors run 99p promotions for their Kindle book (as you saw me do last week with my book!  The offer is over, but you can still grab the book here if you haven’t already).  But the main bonus for me is that having a Kindle library full of business books means I always have a book with me.  If I’m waiting for someone for a meeting, or I’m sat in the doctors waiting room, or anywhere that I don’t have my computer with me and I bit of time on my hands, I read some of the Kindle book I have on the go at that time.  I also always read before bed, even if it’s just 10 minutes.  And I have been known to pick up my phone and open the Kindle app in the small hours of the morning when sleep is evading me!

 

4. LISTEN TO Audio Books

I definitely prefer reading to listening to books.  But reading takes a good bit of time commitment.  You can’t really do anything else at the same time.  So, listening to the audio version of the book is often a better option.  As with podcasts, I sometimes listen to audiobooks while walking the dog and doing jobs round the house.  But mostly, I reserve audio books for long car journeys.  Those few hours in the car are no longer wasted, as I’m learning as I travel.

 

5.  Manage Blog Sites With Feedly

I love reading blogs.  They keep me up to date with the latest goings on in social media.  And also often give me some great business ideas.  There are about 30 blog sites that I really enjoy and get lots from.  I use Feedly to help me keep on top of any new posts from my favourite sites.  Then, each morning, I spend about 10 minutes having a look through new posts of interest.  Feedly is free to use and there is both a browser version and an app.

Learning (and taking action from what you’ve learnt) is such an important part of growing a business.  I really hope I’ve given you an insight in to how you can learn more without spending lots of extra time doing it!  Happy learning!!!

I Wrote A Book!

About a year ago, I read Daniel Priestley’s book – Key Person of Influence. It was an important book for me, as one of my business goals is to be seen as an influential figure in helping businesses grow through using social media. One of the suggestions made in the book was to write a book. And I thought “sure, I’ll do that!”. I remember setting myself the goal to have the book written by Christmas. Oh, how naive I was!

The book took me longer to write than a couple of months. And then, once it was written, there came the task of having my book coach read over it, which then lead to improvements needed. I then had it proof read, formatted, a book cover designed, and had to figure out the world of publishing both a Kindle and paperback version on Amazon.

It’s definitely been a learning curve, but one I have very much enjoyed learning. There is far more to it than I originally thought. Initially, I only focused on the aspect of getting it written, rather than the getting it out there bit!

But written it is. And, I’ve written it in a style in which I enjoy reading business books. One in which you can skip the bits you don’t need to read, and go straight to the sections that matter to you. Where you can quickly find a topic and how to implement it. Or alternatively, where you can read it cover-to-cover.

The book is called ‘Social Media Super Success’. And that is what I hope it brings its readers. It covers everything from picking which platforms your business should be using, to an extensive look at the content you could be sharing, to building your following, advertising on social media, and figuring out if it’s working or not.

And, as it’s launch week, you can get the Kindle version for only 99p until Friday 13th October at 7pm. Just click here to grab your copy (where you can also get the paperback version too if you’d prefer).

I’m so thankful I decided to start on this book-writing journey. And, I may be speaking too soon, but I don’t think it’s going to be my last book!

Sam Flynn Book cover