Reviewing Your Year On Social Media

The end of 2019 is fast approaching!!

I for one am very excited for 2020.  It’s going to bring a lot of change in my business and a new approach to how I do things.

A big part of that for me is going to be planning my content for the year ahead (look out for the next blog for more on this!).  But the first stage in that process is to review how well this year has gone on social media.

For this, I’ll be looking at the free insights and analytics available on each platform.  I’ll look back through the year’s posts and see which performed best in terms of:

  • Reach
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Clicks
  • Views

This will help guide my content for next year, as I’ll know what content my audience has been loving in 2019!

I’ll also be looking at which posts performed least well in each of the above metrics.  This will then give me an idea of what I should doing/talking about in 2020.

You see, your audience are telling you what they enjoy and what they’re less keen on.  You just need to pay attention to them!

This is definitely something you should be doing more than once a year.  At the very least, I would suggest looking at your content every month to see what performs best and least well.

So, set yourself an appointment before the end of the year to review your metrics before you start to plan your social media content for 2020!

Doing What Everyone Else Is Doing Won’t Get You Very Far

Every day we’re being hit by different types of marketing.  TV ads, billboards, leaflets, Google searches, emails and, of course, social media posts.

As such, as marketers of a business, our subconscious absorbs these different types of marketing.  Then, when we go to create our own, our brain naturally suggests creating what is very similar to everyone else.  Because that is sat there in our subconscious.

I do it myself.  I get the idea for a blog post or social media post.  And sometimes I realise it’s because I’ve seen a similar one recently.

Our subconscious can be a bit of a pain in the bum!!  It stops us breaking free creatively, because our brain is getting filled with the ‘norm’.

If our content replicates that of others, we just become part of the noise.  We’re not standing out in any way.  Creative posts stand out, same old same old don’t!

Instead, challenge yourself to think about what other businesses in your industry are NOT doing!

Are they NOT creating video?  Are they NOT sharing selfies?  Are they NOT going live?  Are they NOT raising discussions with their posts?

This will definitely help you be seen on social media.  And what’s the point of posting if you’re not going to be seen?

If you are stuck with how to be different on social media, you can watch the recording of a recent webinar I did.  Click here to access the ‘Be Different On Social Media’ webinar recording!

 

Day In The Life – Working From Home

I thought I’d document what a day-in-my-life looks like when working from home, rather than out delivering training.  I always find it intriguing what people actually get up to behind the scenes, so thought I’d give you a sneak peak behind my business doors!

No two days are ever the same!  So, I wrote down everything I did on Thursday 17th October.  And this is what my day looked like….

5:00 – Alarm goes off.  I’m an early riser and an early to bed kind of girl.  I head to the gym so that I’m back before my husband leaves for work at 6.40am.  My day goes so much better if I get to the gym but it doesn’t always happen.  Especially if one (or more) of my three girls have been up in the night!

6:30 – Home!  Usually the two oldest (4 and 6 years) are up by now.  Their dad heads to work and I get them their breakfast, then head for a shower and get myself ready for the day.

7:00 – The busiest hour of the day!  Gently ask* (*shout) repeatedly for the older two to get themselves dressed.  Help youngest with shirt buttons.  Do their hair and get them to brush their teeth.  Wake up youngest (just turned 1 year).  Nappy changed, dressed and give her a bottle of milk.  Gather school and nursery bags with whatever is needed for their day.  Drop off youngest at nursery and then the other two at school breakfast club.

8:10 – The calm after the storm!  Usually feel like I should be at least half way through my day by this point!  Have my breakfast and a much needed cup of tea and plot out my day.

8:30 – Work begins with webinar prep.  On this particular day I have a webinar at lunchtime that I have yet to write.  I keep them short and simple.  So it doesn’t take me long to prep a few slides for the webinar.

8:45 – Blog promo.  I wrote a blog post the day before so spend a few minutes sharing it on social media.

8:50 – Social media learning.  I have a read through articles about different areas of social media and create some posts to share about any ones I think will benefit my audience.  This is a crucial step for me in keeping up to date in what’s new in social media.

9:10 – BREAK!  I tend to work in 40 minute chunks.  I set a timer on my phone, then put my phone out of reach so I’m not tempted to procrastinate!  I then take a 10 minute break away from my desk before the next 40 mins!

9:20 – Client work.  I needed to create some social media processes for a client who was passing over the social media reigns to someone new in their team.

10:00 – BREAK!

10:10 – Emails.  I usually have a quick scan of my emails in between sets at the gym so I know if there’s anything important I need to respond to straight away.  If not, I wait until about this point of the morning, to avoid the temptation of spending all day checking in on emails.  I then create some Instagram stories.  The remaining 30 minutes of this ‘chunk’, I spend engaging with people on Instagram.  I’m really trying to increase my efforts on Instagram at the moment, so try to spend time on there every day engaging with other peoples’ posts.  And I’m definitely seeing more success on Instagram as a result.

10:50 – BREAK!  During which I put on some make up and sort out my hair ready for being on camera for my webinar.  My husband also gives me a ring now so I chat to him while I do it.  If he rings me during the day, I usually bounce business stuff off him.  It’s hard to manage everything going on in your head when you work on your own.  So he’s my constant sound board!

11:10 – As I look semi-presentable, I take a few different selfies to use in future social media posts.  I then record three videos, under 1 minute long each, to use for social media posts.  I create these on my phone using the Clips app, so that they have subtitles on.  I’ll share them out over the coming two weeks, so that’s my short video recording done for a couple of weeks.  I then get ready to go live with the webinar.  I load up Zoom and check the background of my video stream, load up my slides and wait for the webinar attendees to arrive!

12:00 – WEBINAR!  This one focuses on how to stand out and be different on social media (if you missed it, you can get the recording HERE!).  I’m trying to host more regular short lunchtime webinars.  They’re great for showcasing my expertise and building my email list.  And I always repurpose the recording as well.

12:30 – BREAK!  This one’s a big break.  I don’t get all that much time to get stuff done for myself, so sometimes I take a long break during the day to tick off my personal to-do list.  I have my lunch then head out to drop-off returns at the post office, pick up a dress I ordered for my daughter’s christening, buy some socks for the girls to take to school the next day for the homeless, and get some food for the dog!!!

14:00 – Email check and responding.  Respond to comments on my social media posts, and replies to my comments on other peoples’ posts.

14:10 – Edit the webinar recording and begin uploading to host site.

14:20 – Set up for video recording.  I like to create a different set up for IGTV and YouTube videos, compared to my short social media videos.  I have studio lights and a camera on a tripod.  I record the audio on a separate mic.  So, it takes a bit of time to get it all set up.  When it is set up, I try to record at least 4 videos.  I usually share about one a week on both IGTV and YouTube, so this means I won’t need to set it up again for another month.  All didn’t go to plan.  The camera battery was dead so I decided to just record on my phone instead to get the job done.  And, one of the bulbs on my studio lights was flickering so I improvised with my SAD lamp instead!!!  Things don’t always go as you had planned them to but that doesn’t mean the time needs to go to waste.

14:40 – BREAK!

14:50 – Recording time.  I get my four videos recorded.  I usually change clothes between each video to make it look like I recorded them on different days (insider tricks!)!

16:00 – Get the webinar recording out to those who registered but didn’t attend.  Call back someone who rang earlier in the day (I use a call handling team).

16:15 – I head downstairs to get some dinner on the go.  The girls all come home hungry, so it’s important I have something ready for them to eat!  I sometimes remember to put something in the slow cooker that morning.  Today was not one of those days!  I take my laptop downstairs with me and watch a training video for something I need to learn for the project I’m launching in February.  I also email back and forth with my accountant about my VAT return and end of year accounts, and do a final email check.

17:00 – Head off to pick up the older two from after-school club then the youngest from nursery.  Get them home and fed.  Their hero returns from his day at work!  Then it’s the usual bath, book, bed routine.

19:00 – All kids in bed.  I usually have a tidy up and make sure I’m not coming down to a pig sty the following morning.  Take the dog for a walk.  Then I spend an hour reading a business book.  This is a new habit I’m trying to keep up, as I find TV pretty dull and always feel I’ve achieved nothing in the evening.  Chill for a bit then….

21:30 – BED!  Told you I went to bed early!

 

 

5 Ways To Be Visible To Your Connections On LinkedIn

I’ve often had businesses moan at me that they don’t see the value in LinkedIn as they have lots of connections but don’t get any business from it.

It usually boils down to the same problem…

They are not being visible to their connections!

So, how can you make sure those you are connected to see you, remember you and build a relationship with you?

 

1. Post Written Updates

Posting regular updates on LinkedIn (at the very least weekly, preferably daily), will give you a regular presence amongst ‘some’ of your connections.  Home feeds are made up of updates from our connections, companies we follow, and other content that has been engaged with by our connections, as well as sponsored content.  There is an algorithm LinkedIn uses to decide which content will be shown to which users.  But you have to be in it to be part of that algorithm!

Ask questions and raise discussions, share your knowledge, talk about what’s going on in your business, ask for guidance, and generally share content that will be of value and interest to your audience.

 

2. Post Video Updates

While written posts are more than valuable, talking heads video adds an extra depth of visibility.  It shows your face and allows people to hear your voice.  Which allows for a much deeper sense of ‘knowing’ and visibility.  Of course, putting yourself on camera isn’t quite as easy as typing out a quick post!  The more you do it, the quicker and easier it becomes.  Even if you share one or two videos a month, it’s better than none!

 

3. Comment On Updates

Engaging on the updates of your connections can be a great way to build the relationship with them.  Spend at least 5 minutes a day looking through your LinkedIn feed and commenting on posts of interests, or those for which you can add to the conversation.  If you comment regularly on the same people’s posts, you’ll see their future posts appear further up your home feed, making it much easier to continue to engage with them and build further on that relationship.

 

4. Create articles

When you have more to say, or want to share something that would fit better in an article or blog-type format, then write an article on LinkedIn!  This will be shared as a link on the home feed of your connections (algorithm dependent!).  Writing articles is a great way to share your knowledge and showcase your expertise.  They also sit on your profile, allowing new connections or visitors to your profile to look through your previous articles.

 

5. Send messages

No form of communication is going to be more valuable than 1:1 (if done in the right way!).  This isn’t your opportunity to go in to sales mode.  I’m sure we all receive a fair few LinkedIn messages that do little more than sell!  Instead, use these to interact on a more personal level with your connections.  You could expand on a conversation raised in their update.  You could share an article with them that you think they may find useful.  And, ultimately, you could use this to arrange coffee meet-ups and take that visibility to an in-person level.  There is no harm in occasionally using messaging to sell, but do it in the right way!  Only do so when you have an offer that you think will be of benefit to the recipient of that message.  And NEVER start your messages with ‘I’d like to introduce you to my business’.  How many people do you think read on further from that sentence?!  Messages are also a great way to spark conversation with new connections and find out more about them.

So, what are you going to do today to raise your visibility on LinkedIn?

If you want to learn more about using LinkedIn to grow your business, you can download my LinkedIn Connections To Conversions Cheat Sheet HERE!

10 Things I’ve Learnt From 10 Years In Business

At the age of 24 years old, freshly married, I decided that employment wasn’t my future and I started my first business.  Last week marked 10 years in business for me.

It has definitely been a rollercoaster.  I’m not a big rollercoaster fan (mainly because I have a bad fear of heights), but I’m really glad I got on this one.

 

So, what have I learnt in my ten years of business?

  1. Don’t Do It All Yourself

In terms of the payroll, my business is just me.  But I’ve used many, many services over the years that I could technically have done myself, but either would have done them badly or wasted time that I could have spent on growing the business.  Knowing the worth of my time shifted a lot of things for me, and I stopped doing stuff that could be outsourced.

 

  1. Marketing Matters

When I started my first business, an employee survey business (for which I still do work for clients, though focus the majority of my efforts on the social media training business now), I thought I could get a great website then the phone would start ringing. It didn’t!  I quickly learned I would need to focus the majority of my efforts on marketing.  It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do if no one knows about you!

 

  1. Your Business Could/Will Change

When I started Personnel Surveys, I thought that was it for me, my business was outlined for ever more. Within a year, I had started Sam Flynn Social Media.  I never would have dreamt that it would become my main business and passion.  And it’s going to change again next year (though still with a social media training focus!).  Nothing is permanent.  And, when I listen to interviews with entrepreneurs, it seems that many started out on a completely different route to the one they’re now on!

 

  1. It Won’t Always Be Easy

After having my second daughter, I really struggled to get back into my business.  There were numerous factors (the main being that she was a terrible sleeper, and I was running on about 2-3 hours a night!) but I seriously thought about calling it a day and seeking employment.  I decided to give it another 6 months to cement my decision. That was about 3.5 years ago.  I’m still here and so glad I stuck around!

 

  1. Learning is Key

I’ve always been quite academic and love learning new things.  And I can’t imagine my business would be where it is today if I hadn’t kept learning new things.  Reading books, listening to podcasts, investing in courses and memberships.  There’s always something new to learn when it comes to running your business, and I love that!

 

  1. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

There have been so many ways in which I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone as a business owner.  I’m quite a shy person, so even going networking felt like a huge step for me.  Putting myself out of my comfort zone, going on the stage, creating video content, putting myself out there more, has actually really helped my overcome my shyness. And the saying I always have in my head is ‘success happens outside of comfort zones’.

 

  1. Work Smarter, Not Harder

Before I had my first daughter, I worked flat out on my business.  After having her, I cut down to 2-3 days a week.  I now work only 3 days a week, but my business is more successful than it was working 5+ days a week.  I’ve realised the importance of working smart and making the most of the working time I do have.  Time off is so important.  And I started my business to allow me the flexibility to be with my children, which is working out great!

 

  1. It Will Be Stressful Sometimes

I’ve had times of extreme stress.  It’s not as possible to walk out the door at the end of the day and switch off from work when it’s your business.  I often wake in the middle of the night stressing about something to do with the business.  I’m trying to find ways to make sure that doesn’t happen, but it’s not always that easy!

 

  1. You Decide What Success Looks Like

Success is different for every person.  And it can change.  How success looked like for me when I started the business is different to how I view success now.  And it’ll change again in the future, especially when I have all 3 girls in school!  Right now, I do feel successful.  I’m running a business that works well around my family, that allows me two days a week to do school runs and spend with my youngest, that gives me an admirable income and that I enjoy.  I’d say that’s a success for me!

 

  1. Business Relationships Matter

In the early years of being in business, I did a lot of networking.  I dropped back on networking after having my first daughter, and shifted most of that online.  While I work on my own, I have lots of people that I’ve built working relationships with over the years.  And they have been so valuable for me.  I love meeting new people, especially now on social media, and building those relationships.

 

It’s been a good ten years and I’m so excited for the next ten!

What have you learnt in your time as a business owner?

End of an era, start of another…

My littlest started nursery last week.  My middle daughter started school.  And my eldest returned to school (in a cast thanks to an end of summer hols accident!).

In the 10 years I’ve been running my own business, I’ve been on maternity leave three times.  It definitely causes huge disruption to the business.  Three times taking chunks of time away, then working to get myself back out there.

I’ve worked through each maternity leave, but as minimally as I can.  You can’t get the baby days back after all (sob!).

Last week signalled the start of returning to a three day week (I’ve done no more than three days since my eldest, now 6yrs, was born).  Back to normality.  And, I guess what makes it different this time is that I’m 99.9999999999% certain there’ll be no more maternity leave disrupting the business flow.

So, it’s definitely the end of one era.  But also very much the start of a new one.

And I’m really excited about this new era!  Whilst on ‘maternity leave’ this third time, I came up with an idea, which I’m going to be releasing in February 2020.  I don’t want to give too much away too soon, but I honestly can’t wait to get it out there!  There’s a fair bit of work to do and I want to get it right, hence the February launch date.

I know it’s going to revolutionise my working life.  It’s going to mean I can help an awful lot more businesses achieve social media success too!

In the meantime, there’ll be webinars you can join me in online.  I’ll be out and about delivering training and speaking at events.  And you should see much more of me on social media too!

Let the new era commence!!!!

 

 

Using Instagram To Market B2B Businesses

While I am of the thinking you can’t be everywhere on social media, unless you have both resource and time, I do think it can be easy to overlook platforms that could have a significant impact in marketing our businesses by claiming our audience doesn’t use it.

This is often the case for companies who target other businesses.  Instagram, in particular, gets pushed down the list of platforms to be present on.  But could you be missing out?

 

If you target small businesses, with the social media managed by the business owner and the business having selling to consumers rather than other businesses, Instagram could have huge potential for you.

It is also a great platform to elevate personal brands within businesses, such as the owner or other key people within the business.

And, don’t forget, when targeting businesses, it is the people within the business you want to bring in to your audience.  With over a billion monthly users worldwide, there is a high chance some of that audience will be on Instagram.

According to TrackMaven’s research, B2B business experience their highest engagement ratio on Instagram than on any other platform.

So, how could you be using Instagram to market your business to other businesses?

 

  1. Go Behind The Scenes

Where your LinkedIn approach may be more ‘professionally-focused’, Instagram could offer the opportunity to take your audience behind the scenes of your business.  What happens day-to-day?  Who are the people within the business?  This helps to showcase what the business does and helps to build relationships with those people in it.  Instagram stories offers a great way to do this, building a story of what goes on in your business.

 

  1. Share Your Knowledge, Thoughts and Opinions

This is particularly important for thought leadership.  It helps show your expertise, and audiences love to learn, so will help you attract new followers too.  While you do need to include a photo or video (up to 1 minute long) with each post, the text of your post matters too.  You can share tips and advice in the text, and open up discussions, allowing others to comment and build conversation with you.  Short video posts are also a great opportunity to share your knowledge.

 

  1. Take Pictures/Videos On Your Phone

Just because Instagram is visually focused, doesn’t mean you need expensive camera equipment.  Your phone is all the kit you need to build your Instagram presence.  Take pictures when you’re out visiting clients.  Take pictures round the office and in the local area.  Take selfies and pictures of your team.  Try different angles to get different perspectives.  Use apps like ‘Clips’ to quickly create square video with subtitles on your phone.  For longer videos (between 1 and 10 minutes) you can use IGTV to share video content.

 

  1. use Hashtags, Location Tags and Mentions

Use hashtags to reach your ideal audience.  For example, if you target small businesses in the UK, you can add #smallbusinessuk, #uksmallbusiness, #smallbizuk, #uksmallbiz, #businessowneruk, #ukbusinessowner, #entrepreneuruk, #ukentrepreneur…and I think you get the gist!  Don’t forget to tag your location and tag any other businesses worth a mention in your post, where relevant.

 

  1. Use Instagram Ads

You can target your Instagram Ads at businesses and owners of businesses.  For example, you could target home workers, small business owners, self-employed, etc.  This is an opportunity to reach out to a cold audience, so warm them up with an interesting video or post and encourage their engagement.  You can then target the warmer leads, who have engaged with your advert, with a lead capture or possibly a sell.

 

If you want to achieve Instagram Success but still feel you need a bit more know-how, join me for my LIVE online course INSTAGRAM SUCCESS on Thursday 5th September.  You can find all the details by clicking HERE!

What Do Your Audience Want On Social Media?

If you want social media success, the most important thing to focus on is your audience.  It is very tempting to focus your content on what you want to tell people.  But if you instead shift that to what they want to hear, you are likely to achieve so much more success.

But how do we know what our audience wants from us on social media?

 

  1. CREATE A PERSONA

Write down every detail you can possibly think of in relation to your target audience (and remember if you’re B2B, your audience is not a business.  It’s people within the business).  Drill down to age, location, gender, job role, family, education, industry, what makes them laugh, what are they worried about, what challenges them, what do they read, what are they interested in, what do they want to learn, and anything else you can possibly think of!!!

Grab yourself a big piece of paper and write down everything.  Then create a persona from this.  In other words, take it from being a huge audience to being one person.  You can even give them a name!  If it’s tricky to make just one persona, you can make a few.  But try to avoid having any more than 5.  Each time you create content, have this ‘person’ in mind.

 

2. SPEAK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

I’m sure you’re trying to attract people that are similar to your customers to follow you on social media.  So, speak to your customers.  If you have regular conversations with your customers, ask them about their social media use and what they would like to see from you on social media.  Ask them to give you honest feedback on your current activity and whether they can relate to it.

 

3. RUN A SURVEY

You can ask questions on social media directly to get some feedback from your audience.  You can also run a more in-depth survey to gain a better understanding of what might appeal to your audience.  Free tools like Survey Monkey will allow you to email a survey or share the link on social media.  You could incentivise the survey with a prize draw to increase response.  Ask questions like which platforms they use and the type of content they like to see (top tip: don’t leave this open ended.  Instead give multiple choice responses so you don’t end up with lots of different answers!).

 

4. LET THEM TELL YOU

But by the far the easiest and most effective way of understanding what your audience wants on social media is to let them tell you.  And they do this by engaging, or not engaging, with your content.  Each platform gives you insights and analytics behind each of your posts.  At the end of every week, look at how much engagement you have had for each of your posts.  Likes, comments and shares typically suggest that your audience is interested in that content.  If you don’t get as much engagement for a post, it is likely this is due to them not being as interested.  This will give you an idea of what your audience wants to see from you.

Pay attention to overall themes.  For example, if you get more engagement for videos rather than images.  Or if you get more comments on images with people in rather than products.  Do more of what gets you the most engagement, and less of what gets you the least!!

 

So, what does your audience want?  If you don’t know, it’s time to start figuring it out!

 

 

 

5 Ways To Use Instagram Stories

I LOVE Instagram Stories.  It’s probably where I spend the majority of my personal time (and some business time too) when it comes to social media use.  It feels so much more real and in the moment than any other social media content.  And really helps you to get to know businesses and people too.

Instagram users are spending more of their time on stories now than looking through feed posts.  So, if you’re an Instagram user, how could you be using Instagram Stories for your business?

Instagram Stories

  1. Research

There is a poll feature on stories, allowing you to give users two options to choose from.  Which means it’s a quick and easy way of getting answers to important questions.  Such as, ‘bourbon or custard cream’ (bourbon), ‘ketchup in the fridge or cupboard (cupboard)’, ‘gin or wine’ (both!).  Obviously you can ask some serious questions too relating to your business, industry and products/services.

You are also able to see individual’s responses, so you can then strike up a conversation with them via DM relating to their response and build the relationship further.

 

2. Behind-The-Scenes

Where your grid posts might be more thought through and creative, your Instagram stories can take people straight behind-the-scenes of what goes on in your business day-to-day and give them a greater understanding of what it is you do.

 

3. Share Tips

Use your stories to impart wisdom.  You can do this with video, or by sharing an image with text over.  Think about current hot topics in your industry and create a small number of stories about that topic.  You can then create highlights on your profile to add this to so that people can come back at a later date and still so those tips.

 

4. Increase Your Post Reach

By clicking on the paper aeroplane symbol under your post, you can share it to your story.  Add a related hashtag and this will increase the reach of your story, leading more people to click through to your post.

 

5. Have Fun

Stories are fun!  You can add face filters, GIFs, do boomerangs, rewind videos, and so much more!  Have fun with it.  Show the personality of you and your brand.  This will undoubtedly help your customers and potential customers build a stronger relationship with you!  Don’t be afraid to be yourself!!

Are you using Instagram Stories?  How do you use them?

Momentum Rather Than Firefighting

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the 9 years I’ve been working for myself it’s that firefighting doesn’t lead to success.

I’m sure we’ve all been there as a business owner at some point.  We’ve had a good bit of work in, then suddenly it dries up.  And we go a bit crazy trying to fill the gap.  We release mad offers.  We start discounting quotes we haven’t had a positive response from.  We stop sleeping and start wondering how we’re going to pay next month’s bills.

We firefight.

And it is stressful!!!!

Over the last few years, I haven’t done any firefighting.  I’ve realised the big difference comes instead from momentum.

But momentum takes planning.  It takes thought.  It takes looking to the future (as in months in the future, rather than next week).  It takes doing stuff now that will lead to work later, and carrying on doing that stuff even when we’re doing that work.

Social media is a prime example.

We jump in all guns blazing when we have no customers to serve.  But when we get busy, we stop.  Stop posting, stop being present.  Complete the work, and back to firefighting by posting constant content.

Instead, if you continue your online activity, the momentum carries you on.

This means thought through content, pre-planning and a schedule to help you achieve this.  Or potentially outsourcing some areas of it.

I’m busy working on something now that I won’t be releasing until February.  It’s taking me a lot of willpower to not bring forward that release date.  But I know, for this to be a success, I need time.  And then I can ride that wave of momentum, because I will have a plan and programme in place after release.

There’ll be no firefighting.  Only momentum.

How do you ride the momentum wave rather than putting out weekly fires?