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?

5 Things To Do When Launching A New Product/Service

Last week, I launched my new online course The Social Media Super Success Plan and exceeded my sign up targets!

So, I thought I’d share with you some of the things that help lead to a successful launch!

  1. Build Your Email List

I’ve known that I would be releasing this course since around October last year, and that the majority of the launch would take place via email.  My focus from that point was to grow my list.  I’ve always had a side bar capture (see the 50 Things To Say On Social Media box either in the side bar on desktop or when you scroll down on mobile).  And this has generated a good number of email addresses for my list.  But I wanted to step it up.  I started doing more free webinars, with signups having to provide their email address.  I also repurposed one of these webinars, creating a recording that you could receive by filling in a webform (see top bar).  I also added a popup to my site, which has really increased sign ups too!  I grew my list by as many new signups in two months as I had done in the previous 12 months!

 

2. Run A Competition

A ran a competition the week before the course was due to launch to win one of three free places on the course.  This achieved two things.  Firstly, you had to enter using your email address, so I grew my list again, but this time with people I knew were interested in the course.  Secondly, it allowed me to start talking about the course before it launched, and teasing people that it was soon to launch.  I ran a Facebook Ad for the competition to get it in front of a wider audience.

 

3. Set A Launch and Finish Date

I talked about the date the course would be available and counted down to it, including in emails (see below!).  The other thing I did for this course was set an end date for signups.  This wouldn’t be applicable to every product or service, but it worked really well for this one.  If I’d kept the course open forever, there wouldn’t have been a deadline to signup to and no rush to get involved!  You could do the same by limiting the availability or having a deadlined offer.  The last day that you could sign up was the one that I got the most signups!  So, it definitely works!

 

4. Social Media

Of course, social media played a huge part in the actual launch.  I tweeted about it all day on the three days you could sign up and also did daily posts on LinkedIn and Facebook.  I also created some video content about the course, to increase reach.  And I ran a Facebook ad to people who had visited my website and who had watched the competition video.  Social media also played a big part over the months before the launch.  I have been posting more video content to increase my reach and show my expertise, which has lead more people to my website from social media, and to sign up to my lead captures.

 

5. Emails

In launch week, I sent 6 emails over 5 days.  Some might view this as excessive, but it’s not something I’d do every week and I only had a couple of people unsubscribe from my list.  The first email introduced that I was launching a new product on Wednesday and that I’d let them know more tomorrow (Tuesday).  The second then went through all the details of what the course included and told them what time to expect it to launch the next day.  The following email stated that the course was now live to sign up to.  Thursday’s email answered questions about the course and restated some of the elements of the course.  And, on Friday, the last day for signing up, I sent out two emails.  The first reminded them that it was the last day to sign up and again added in a couple of details about the course.  And the final email was a short one to say there was only two hours left to sign up.  With each email I sent out on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I received at least one sign up.  So long as you’re not bombarding people’s inboxes every week like this, it’s absolutely fine to do it when launching.

So, that’s how I did my launch!  It’s the first time I’ve really planned through a launch rather than just sending out a couple of emails about a course, and it’s definitely something I’ll replicate the next time I release this course or a new one!

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

How I Get Most Of My Business Through LinkedIn

Around 70% of my business is generated via LinkedIn.  That’s a pretty hefty proportion!!  But it’s why I dedicate most of my social media time to this platform.  It works so well for me!  I thought I’d share a few of the things that allow me to generate so much business through LinkedIn.

How I Get Most Of My Business Through LinkedIn

  1. Connecting with anyone

Well, not quite anyone!  I always veto them first by having a quick look at their profile.  But I will near enough accept 9/10 of the invitations I receive to connect on LinkedIn.  It opens my network much wider, and I am able to appear in more search results, as my 2nd connection network is so large.

 

2. Posting regular updates

Of course, it’s not all just about connecting.  You need to be visible to your connections too!  I post status updates regularly on LinkedIn, at least 3 times a week.  These keep me in the awareness of my connections, as well as helping them out with useful articles, blog posts and tips.

 

3. Sending messages

I use the message facility a lot on LinkedIn.  I run a search through my 1st connections for those who I think will be interested in my message, and I then send it through to them.  For my workshops, I always have at least one person there who has booked on as they’ve received a LinkedIn message from me.

 

 

4. Searching for my target market

I regularly run searches on LinkedIn for my target market and connect with them.  I expand my network regularly with the right people.

 

5. I don’t waste my time in groups

Groups are becoming less and less popular on LinkedIn.  I no longer participate in any of the groups I am a member of, as I know it’s not the best use of my time.  I would rather focus that time on building my network, posting updates and sending relevant messages.

 

This is obviously a very quick overview and there is much more to it that this.  But I can’t give all my LinkedIn secrets away in one post!  If you want to know more, why not book on my LinkedIn Success LIVE online course!  You can find all the details by clicking here.

7 Ways To Win New Business On Social Media Today

Social media can be a bit of a slow burner when it comes to generating business.  Generally, you’ll be far more successful on social media if you work at building relationships with your audience.  Which does take time.  But it pays off in the long run, when those relationships start to convert.  If you’re getting a little bored with waiting, there are some ways you can speed things up a little!

7 Ways To Win New Business On Social Media TODAY!

1. Run A Flash Sale

Having a really good offer that is only available for a very short time period, such as 24 hours, is a good way of generating sales quickly on social media.  You can talk about the flash sale on all your social media channels, lead up to it before the day, share numerous updates about it on the day, pay to promote those posts, and countdown to the flash sale being over in your updates.  It will have to be tempting enough to make people want to buy.  Think 50% off instead of 10%!

2. Ask For Meetings

One thing we often find difficult to do is ask people to meet up.  Yes, some people will say no.  But imagine if you asked 10 people every day if they wanted to have a meeting, and one came back and said yes.  That’s 9 no’s.  But it’s one yes!!  That’s a meeting every day.  You could do this via LinkedIn message to your connections or via direct message on Twitter.

3. Chase Prospects

Social media can offer a way to keep in the awareness of people and businesses you’ve supplied quotes to.  If you are struggling to get an answer via email, or they’re not available to chat to on the phone, have a go on social media!  You could simply reply to their updates to remind them of your business.  Or you could get straight to the point and ask them via social media if they’d had any further thoughts.

4. Find Your Targets and Speak To Them

Highlight 50 targets that you’d like to become customers.  Then go and find them on social media.  Connect with them on LinkedIn.  Follow them on Twitter.  Wherever you can find them on social media, follow them!  Then start talking to them.  Build the conversation to the point where you suggest meeting up.

5. Run A Competition

Competitions typically generate larger audiences, due to participation increasing reach.  On Facebook, you can ask people to comment on your post to be entered in to a draw.  This will lead to more of their friends seeing your post too.  You can’t ask to share though, in line with the Facebook competition guidelines.  But you can ask people to retweet on Twitter!  Follow your competition up with a fab offer for all those who didn’t win the prize (which will be one of your products or services!).

6. Run A Twitter Search

Twitter is often a go-to for recommendations.  “Can anyone recommend the best hair salon in Nuffield?”, “I could do with getting some business cards printed in the next 24 hours!”, “Any good suggestions for a decent accountant in Manchester?”, and so on!  Are people using Twitter to ask for your products or services?  Think of the keywords people may be using to ask for your product or service, then search for it, filtering to be close to your location if you are location-specific.  Then respond to those needs!

7. Go Viral

Easier said than done, right?!  But if you put enough effort in, you can go viral, or at least dramatically increase the reach of your posts.  More people seeing your post is likely to lead to more business.  So, what usually goes viral?  Humour works really well.  Or thought-provoking posts.  But the main thing is something that is completely different to anything that has been seen before.  So, get your thinking cap on!!!

Yes, these all take a little time commitment.  And some may feel a little forward.  But if you pick even one to do once a month, it may have a big impact on your business.  Good luck!

Habits and Routine

Since the start of the year, I’ve found myself developing new habits and new routines.  In particular, I’ve upped my exercise and changed my nutrition and I feel a lot better for it.  And within two weeks, it’s become my new norm.  It doesn’t take long to develop new habits and shake habits you want to get rid of.  Then it’s just about keeping it up.

So, what habits do you want to change in your working day?  How are you going to develop the right routine that guarantees success?

Habits and Routines

First is to highlight the bad habits.  I have a lot of push back from my clients that they haven’t got time in their working day for social media.  Yet when I ask them how often they check their emails, there is a coy downward glance.  Emails are such a time drain.  We don’t need to respond to emails the minute they come in.  In fact, it’s likely that nothing will change if you check your emails only twice a day (12pm and 4pm are good times I find).  And turn off those pesky notifications that pop up telling you you have a new email.  You might find you can lose up to an hour a day by not being constantly plugged in to your emails.

Another bad habit is doing lots of different tasks at once, and allowing yourself to become quickly distracted while doing them.  I’ve become more organised with my office days.  I don’t get much time in the office.  I only work a couple of days a week, and often those days are out on the road training businesses or speaking at events.  I have a day-to-view organiser, which is split in to different times of the day.  So, on my office days, I schedule my whole day out with the tasks I want to complete.  They are appointments with myself and I won’t break them for anything.  It means I get more stuff done.  I don’t jump from one job to the next to the next.  I complete a task and then move on to the next task.  It works!  You get all the stuff done on your to-do list for that day, and work more efficiently on that job and I find I have pockets of time to stop for a coffee and a social media catch up.

So, once you’ve dropped the bad habits, start to pick up good ones.  Setting aside 10 minutes in your day to schedule some social media updates for example.  Or doing the action you like least at the start of the day, so it’s done with and you can get on with the more enjoyable tasks.  Checking your email less and planning out your day.  Putting your mobile in a drawer on silent so you aren’t tempted to check what your mates are up to on Facebook!  Once you’ve taken the action for a few days, it will become a habit.  And you will feel better for it too, as you’ll be getting more stuff done and spending less time procrastinating!

Give it a go!  I’d love to hear what habits you want to get rid of and the routines you’re going to introduce!

 

 

What I Learnt From Going Live on Facebook During December

In December, I decided to go live on Facebook *nearly* every day!  I soon realised that every day wasn’t going to happen.  But I did manage 12 live broadcasts on my Facebook page during December.  So, what did I learn while doing, what I termed, LIVEMAS?

What I Learnt About Going Live

  1. Going Live Takes As Long As Going Live

What I mean by that is that you are creating video content in as long as it takes to go live with that video.  There is no editing, no uploading.  The video remains on your Facebook page for all to see, you can download it and share it elsewhere.  A 5 minute video literally takes 5 minutes.  One thing that often holds me back from creating video content is time, so this for me is a big bonus.  The days I didn’t go live, it was predominantly due to forgetting rather than a time issue!

2. Your Confidence Increases

Going live can be pretty scary!  What if you mess up?  What if your phone rings?  What if the dog barks?!  All three of these have happened during my live broadcasts.  And you realise, it doesn’t really matter!!!!  The beauty of live is the authenticity that live brings.  It’s real and unedited.  It’s highly unlikely to be perfect.

3. Planning Is Key

It’s worthwhile making a few notes on the points you want to cover in your live session.  I didn’t do this a couple of times, and found myself going off point and ending the live broadcast thinking of things I should have said.  Just jot down a few things that you can stick in eyesight, so that you stay on track and don’t miss anything out

4. People Like Personal

For the majority of my live broadcasts, I shared social media tips.  But for a couple, I made them more personal.  One featured my 3 year old and 1 year old daughters.  Another was taken on a Friday night, when I was straight out of the shower, in my pyjamas, enjoying a glass of prosecco, wishing everyone a happy Friday night!  So, which live broadcasts generated the most views?  Yep, those two videos!  The ones that were far more personal and real.  It’s taught me a lot about being more ‘me’ and not always keeping things business-focused.  Authenticity really does help to build relationships.

5. I’m Going to Go Live More

Doing so many live broadcasts within a month has really spurred me on to go live more.  Both on my Facebook page and on Periscope too.  It’s really easy and quick to do, and the reach is much higher than any other type of content.  It helps me to build relationships with my audience, build my own profile and create simple video content too.

So, no excuses, it’s time for you to embrace LIVE!  You can watch my LIVEMAS videos over on my Facebook page.

My Social Media Resolutions for 2017

Happy New Year!!!

With a new year comes new plans, new opportunities, new ways of looking at things and the resolve to do things a bit differently.  Of course, we know that resolutions aren’t always kept (which is why I didn’t get the call from Victoria’s Secrets for this year’s show…!).  But they are good for focusing us on something we want to achieve and setting out plans for how we will do it.

There are lots of ways we can all improve on social media.  And that includes me too!  So, I thought I’d share with you my social media resolutions for 2017.

  1. Schedule More

In true trainer style, I’m great at preaching, not so good at practising!  So, this is the year I will practice more of what I preach.  I will schedule updates every week to go out.  I do quite a lot of social media in the live moment.  But on busy days, that means my activity can dwindle.  I’d like to see that I have a good few posts scheduled each week to go out.  I plan to do this on a Monday morning (if I’m not out training) and know that I’m covered for the week.

2. Engage More

Again, practice what you preach Sam!!!  I used to do a LOT of engaging on social media as I was building up my business.  Now things are a bit busier, that’s not so easy to do.  I used to love building new business relationships via social media, so I plan to do more of it in 2017.  Responding to tweets, replying to Facebook posts, reading and replying to LinkedIn posts.  There are so many ways to engage.

3. Publish More LinkedIn Posts

We all know how easy it is to drop a habit.  That’s why the new year’s diets never last long!  I used to publish a post every week on LinkedIn.  They had a high volume of views and actually lead to business too.  Slowly, I broke the habit, and now I need to get back in to it.  So, keep an eye out on LinkedIn for more published posts from me!

4. Go LIVE More

In December, I went live 12 times on my Facebook page.  It was great!  In fact, I’m going to write a post next week on what I learnt about going live so much within a month, and the live videos that got the most views.  I really enjoy going live.  It’s a lot easier than producing a video, as there is no editing or retakes.  A 5 minute live video literally takes 5 minutes, and then you’re done!  So, I will definitely be going live more on my Facebook page, and maybe on Twitter (via Periscope) too!

5. Use Instagram More

I LOVE Instagram.  It’s personally my favourite social media platform, and I do spend a lot of time in the evenings looking through other’s pics.  But, I’ve never really gotten in to it in a business sense.  I post occasionally, maybe every couple of weeks.  I’d like to do more on Instagram, but make it more personal too.  I don’t want to post motivational quotes and infographics all the time.  I want to make it about me and my business.  Go follow me and give me a dig if I don’t post on there often enough!!!

And that’s it!  Of course, there are so many more I could include, but then I’d do none of them.  So, these are the ones I will focus on for now and maybe revisit them in a few months time, and add some more in.

I’d love to hear what your new year’s social media resolutions are!

 

LiveMas

That has got to be the strangest blog title ever hasn’t it?!  Let me explain…

I’m a big YouTube fan and follow business, beauty, lifestyle, fitness and all sorts of other channels on there.  I would say I definitely spend more time watching YouTube than I do watching TV.  And one thing that came to my attention on YouTube last December was ‘vlogmas’.  Vlogmas is where YouTubers post a video a day from 1st December up to Christmas Day.  Kind of like a video advent calendar.  I really enjoyed several YouTuber’s vlogmas content last year, but didn’t really see any business people getting involved.

So, I started to think that I might do vlogmas this year.  Then I thought harder about what was involved.  Not only creating video content but also editing, uploading and promoting it.  It’s a good bit of work!  Usually I’d be well up for that, but I’m currently writing my book and aim to have the content complete by Christmas, so I do think I’d really struggle to find the time, or that my book writing would suffer.

Then it struck me what I could do that would be very similar but no where near as much work – LIVEMAS!!!!  Instead of creating and editing video content every day in December up to Christmas Day, I will be going live on my Facebook page instead.  I enjoy going live on Facebook.  It doesn’t involve as much work as creating video content, as no editing is required.  And it doesn’t have to be quite as ‘polished’, as the live element makes it much more real and authentic.  I’ve been thinking I’m not producing anywhere near as much live content on my Facebook page as I’d like to, and this would give me a real push to get more on there.

livemas

The content will cover all sorts of different things.  I would love to say I’ll be live every day at the same time, but I know I’ll struggle to stick to that.  So, I’m going to just do it at the times I’m free to!  That might mean it’s first thing in the morning, during the day, or even when I’m in my pyjamas at night!!  And my kids might feature in there too.  What is it they say about not working with kids?!!

Live video gets a lot higher reach than other content on your Facebook page, and it’s definitely worth doing.  If you’ve not gone live on Facebook yet, or want to increase your live confidence, why don’t you join me in doing Livemas?