How a Virtual Assistant can turn you in to a social media butterly

If you’ve been following our blog for any amount of time, or if you ever see our other posts, you might have noticed that we think social media is an essential part of the marketing mix for any business.  Even more so for smaller businesses as it offers a fantastic cost-effective way of getting word out about the services/products you provide.

As a result, we’re always banging on about how vital it is you get involved with social media marketing.

The problem is though that social media can actually work against you if you don’t offer consistency.  Posting as and when you remember to, or when you can finally find the time at the end of a busy week is not good enough.

You need to think about what you want to achieve, decide how you’re going to do it, make a plan, and then stick to it.  All of which takes a lot of time, which you might not have if you’re busy doing everything else your business needs.

Hiring a virtual assistant with social media management experience is a great way to outsource these time consuming tasks, and take your social networking and marketing to the next level.

Here at Time Saving Heroes we can:

  1. Create social media accounts, profiles and company pages
  2. Create groups on LinkedIn and fan pages on Facebook etc
  3. Manage and generate followers on Twitter
  4. Manage activity on Pinterest (creating, identifying and pinning images)
  5. Scheduling and posting Tweets, tracking hashtags and mentions
  6. Uploading videos to YouTube
  7. Moderating and responding to comments on social media sites
  8. Answering messages and queries via social media channels
  9. Create lists on YouTube and Twitter to better manage your accounts
  10. Share important updates, news and content

 

One of the biggest problems with social media is how distracting it can be.  You log on to respond to a message, and three hours later you’re caught in a loop looking at videos of cats.

Don’t get us wrong, we love cats (Lu even has a Maine Coon cross called Kit Kat) but we’ve probably seen all the videos so tend to just get on with work now. With over 7 years’ experience of posting on various sites and managing a wide variety of business pages, there’s not a lot we’ve not come across.

 

To find out how you can benefit from our experience to help your business give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

 

Freaky Halloween Offer!

Here at Time Saving Heroes we love Halloween.  In fact, it’s our second favourite day of the year (after Christmas, of course).  The crisp evenings, the spookiness, the ghouls lurking round every corner (and that’s just Lu’s kids), so much fun!

 

To celebrate we’re offering a scary reduction in our content writing service.

 

If you sign up by 31st October 2017 you can receive FOUR blogs for the price of two.  That’s a saving of £50!

 

No contracts, you don’t have to sign up to receiving more blogs – you can take your four and run (though, of course, we’d love to think you’d stick around).

 

All you have to do is call 0161 883 2024, email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk or message us via our Facebook page here.

 

Then we’ll do the rest.

 

Blogs will be produced for use in November/December 2017.

Is Facebook going to be the new LinkedIn?

In case you’ve not heard, Facebook is reportedly testing out a brand new Resume/CV feature, suggesting that the social networking platform could soon be in direct competition with LinkedIn.

As things stand, you can already add your professional experience with your friends in the “Work and Education section”. However, the update which is currently being rolled out to select members, will see a revamped version of this.

Screenshots of the update suggest you will be able to include detailed summaries of your previous roles, as well as what you’re currently doing – and potentially what you’re looking for.

The good news is that this section will be separate from your personal profile, meaning only recruiters will be able to see it.  Equally, it means recruiters won’t have to sift through photos of your nights out, children or culinary masterpieces to ascertain if you’re right for the job.

We can’t help but wonder if it’s just another attempt to squeeze revenue from existing members – will you have to pay to access this function, and will recruiters have to have a separate membership to be able to access your CV’s?

There is no doubt that social recruiting is becoming a big thing, with more and more savvy recruiters thinking outside the box and talking to potential candidates away from traditional online forums.  However, the job is already hard enough without adding more potential pools to look through.

Personally, we’re more concerned that rather than differentiating, all platforms are becoming a little too same-old.  LinkedIn has already added SnapChat-style geofilters for events and conferences, and now Facebook is potentially breaking down further barriers.

As users, are we looking for a one-size fits all platform that can perform every function, or is it better to have specific channels to meet our specific needs?

 

Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what your thoughts are.

 

Three Ways to Make More Time

Ruth and I have just been to the Big Bolton Conversation, hosted by the fantastic team at theBestofBolton. I have to say, I was blown away by how well run the entire event was, and what an amazing mix of people were in the room.

As a featured supplier, Time Saving Heroes had the opportunity to have a stand in their “expo” section, which was great – as all exhibitors were B2B, and limited to one per industry.  People actually took the time to talk, and we made some fantastic connections we’ll need to touch base with later this week.

Going through the services we offer, and why we offer them, the dilemma of “too much to do, not enough time” kept coming up.  Obviously, it’s something we hear day in, day out with our existing clients, but it seemed particularly heightened today.

Many people want a quick fix, jokingly asking if we can turn their 24 hour days in to 33 hour ones instead.  Of course we can’t, but the truth is this question says a lot about our approach to managing our time.  Instead of wishing we had more, we need to be better at using what we’ve got.

Here at Time Saving Heroes that’s what we specialise in.  Working with what you’ve already got, and making it better.  You don’t need more time, you need to be more productive with the time you have.

On the drive from Bolton back to the office I got thinking about my top tips to help people manage this, and here they are:

 

#1 – Buy it

I’m always telling my clients they can do anything, but they can’t do everything.  The simple truth is if you take everything on there’s nowhere for you to go.  There reality is there are only so many hours in a day, and no matter how long you work, you can’t do it all.

The good news though is that you can buy time.  If you look at the tasks you currently spend time on, but don’t have to be dealt with by you, find a way to outsource these.  If you spend a lot of time trying to update your website, would it make more sense to pay a web developer to do it?  What about a bookkeeper to handle your accounts?  A Virtual Assistant might have all the necessary skills you need.

Whatever it is you need doing, there is someone out there who has the right skill set to be able to help you.

 

# 2 – Find it

It might seem like a daunting task, but actually taking the time to track how you spend your days is well worth it.  Logging everything you spend your time on, from personal tasks to replying to emails, will highlight all your many obligations throughout the day.

You can then sit and look through the things that are taking up your time that you don’t think are personally worth it.  Rather than adding more things to your list, you can see this as a golden opportunity to cut out the things that aren’t working or don’t really working.  This way, you can free up some of your time to focus on other things.

 

# 3 – Create it

OK, you can’t actually create time, but you can create the illusion of more.  For example, do you find yourself writing the same sort of emails day in, day out? Do you get similar questions from customers or clients?  If so, producing a standard response that you can send out with the click of a mouse is a great way to save yourself heaps of time every single day.

Rather than spending lots of time shuffling bits of paper around, why don’t you use something like Evernote to keep everything simple and organised in one place?  That way it’s always accessible as well and you can add to it as and when needed.

Can you multitask any of your chores?  If you commute to work, can you use this time to deal with your emails, or listen to an audio version of that book you keep meaning to read?

 

 

There are lots of ways you can do more with the time that you have. Perhaps getting on with it, instead of complaining about how much you have to do would be a good first step?  #JustSaying

5 content ideas you should be using

There is little doubt that having a blog on your website, or using another forum, is a great way to generate traffic and engage with your potential audience. However, finding things to actually write about can prove a little problematic at times.

So, here are our favourite options if you find yourself stuck for ideas.

# 1 – Listicles

Other than just being a really cool word, a listicle is a fantastic blend of the classic list based article. Essentially, take a concept, and turn it in to a numbered list. For example, top 10 things to blog about.

Having a list means you can easily call out a number in your headline: “5 reasons you should use a Time Saving Hero”. It’s engaging, and lets your time poor audience know there’s a degree of conciseness and even skimability about the content, that might encourage them to click and read.

# 2 – How to’s

People like to find out how to do things for themselves, and telling them how to do something doesn’t necessarily mean you’re giving away your secrets for free. Create posts that walk them through how to do something useful, whether it’s making a cake, setting up their Facebook business page or even changing a lightbulb. If t’s useful for your audience, then it’s worth doing.

Make it as simple as possible, add images and photographs, and where possible even add in a video to make it more engaging.

# 3 – Checklists

Checklists can be a great way to provide useful and very specific information, and is usually more precise and targeted than a listicle.

We recently prepared checklists for a travel agent client who wanted to help customers who were travelling with young children. The list was informative and useful, and was shared frequently even by people who weren’t customers (which was kind of the whole point).

Use checklists to show you really know what you’re talking about.

# 4 – Best practices

As an expert in your field you will no doubt come across the good and the bad in your industry on a daily basis. Why not take the time to share some best practice advice on a given subject? In the past we’ve done this for how to connect with people on LinkedIn, or how to optimise your social media pages.

We’ve always found that such posts are not only informative, but they often encourage a bit of healthy debate – from all members of your audience, including competitors. This is a great way to increase engagement and visibility, and perhaps even learn something yourself.

# 5 – Tips and tricks

One of our clients is an IT expert – there is nothing he doesn’t know about computers, and everything they’re capable of doing. Each day he shares tips and tricks via his Facebook page, from how to delete temporary files to free up disk space, to useful shortcuts on PowerPoint.

These are great posts, but people only see them if they follow his Facebook page. We recently encouraged him to pull together 8-10 tips at a time, and turn them in to content to share via his website. The reach has been huge, as people have been commenting and reposting specific tips.

It’s a great way to share your knowledge, and again place yourself as an industry expert.

 

What to consider before you post that photo

Generally speaking I’m a pretty mild mannered individual; however, there are some things that really bug me. For example, the other day a Facebook friend I knew from my days as a playground Mum posted a photo of her daughter online. It was a great photo, and to be honest there was nothing wrong with it – apart from the comment she attached to it.

Essentially, she had asked her daughter for a photo, despite the fact said 8 year-old child wasn’t comfortable with it because of the outfit she was wearing. The daughter had agreed, apparently reluctantly, as long as the Mum didn’t share it on social media.

And yet, here I was, looking at the photo of an uncomfortable young girl, whose privacy had clearly been violated.

I won’t lie, it made me feel physically sick and really, really angry.

Then of course I calmed down, and realised it was an opportunity to blog – and that made me happy because I like feeling inspired (and getting on my soap box).

Everyone knows that when it comes to marketing, visual content sells. As social media marketing has taken an ever stronger hold more and more businesses are finding ways to reach out to their audiences and make a bigger impact.

If you sell a product, no matter what that is, there’s plenty of opportunity for you to take photos and create content around that. To make things more personable though, you may want to showcase images of your customers or clients using your products, or even pursuing your retail store.

However, there are legal ramifications involved in doing this, and it’s really important you think about the images you are taking, who they are of and what those peoples’ rights are, before you start sharing them as part of your online marketing strategy.

Admittedly there are laws that allow you to take photographs of people in public, but it’s important to realise these laws change when the person taking the photographs represents a business. Taking a photograph of a large crowd is one thing, but that’s unlikely to be an option for smaller businesses. This means that any photographs you take are going to be of people who are easily identifiable, and people may take exception to that.

I’ve said it before, and I will no doubt say it again, but what happens on social media stays on Google forever. You might post a picture of someone once, and whilst it will temporarily be on your timeline or appear in someone’s newsfeed, it will remain online forever. If you don’t have someone’s express permission, you could be in trouble.

What you need to think about it:

If you are taking photographs of people, and you want to use these as part of any marketing efforts, then you are using them for commercial purposes.

  • Reasonable expectations of privacy – even if someone is in public, if they are having what they believe is a private moment when you unexpectedly take their picture, you may not be able to use the generic public laws when it comes to photographs.
  • Consent – to avoid any confusion, it is always best to get people’s permission before you either take, or certainly use, photographs of them for any reason. In an ideal world, ask people to sign a consent form which you can keep as part of your ongoing records.

If you want to avoid any potential snags with customer photographs, there are some other options you can consider:

  • Why not set up a selfie board in store, and encourage your customers to come and have their photographs taken? You could enter them in to a prize draw so they could win something if they do.
  • Ask customers to send in photographs of them using your products on specific social media channels. Make sure they tag your account, and identify a specific # for them to use. This will help increase exposure as well.
  • If you want to avoid all legal pitfalls, why not just hire a photographer to take images of your products? You could even use images of your staff at work, and having a great time (as long as you have their permission first, of course).

 

Stand me up once, shame on you …

If you follow our Facebook page you will know this morning Lu got stood up. You’ll also know that she had well nice shoes, and was most unimpressed by the amount of rain falling from the skies, but that’s a whole other matter.

The good news is it appears there was a good explanation for the missed meeting today, and a new get together is going to be arranged. However, it seems to be quite a hot topic of conversation among many business owners – as her post missed-meeting rant has been getting quite a bit of attention.

How long would you wait?

Most people said if they had arranged to meet someone, they’d wait anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes (one person saying they’d happily wait 20 minutes) to see if they really were a no-show. The reality is people can easily get stuck in traffic, and not everyone has hands free and is able to make a call to let you know of an issue.

Equally, if you’re already sat waiting for them, you might as well use the time productively to catch up on emails or make any other calls you need to. Yes, it can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be a total waste of your time.

Would you get in touch with them?

Whilst you’re waiting, would you try to get in touch with the missing party? Most of us have been there at least once, somewhere along the way you’ve failed to put a date in your diary and before you know it, you’ve inadvertently stood someone up. We all like to think we’re above it, but alas, we’re all only human.

Phoning someone whilst you’re waiting is a good way to gauge where things are at. Did they simply forget, and if so, is it worth trying to rearrange? Was it a genuine mistake, or are they saying they don’t have the time to meet with you and give you their full attention?

Perhaps you can’t get in touch with them there and then, in which case, would you make contact with them when you get back to the office? Try to find out where they were? If not, why not?

Would you arrange a second meeting?

Most people we’ve heard from said that, depending on the reason for missing the meeting in the first place, they would probably arrange a second meeting. If someone seemed genuinely sorry, or it was clear there was a logical explanation for any mix up, then they’d be more than happy to move on and try again.

However, if they got a feeling the person was lying or trying to cover their tracks, didn’t apologise or wouldn’t take ownership for their mistake, then they wouldn’t bother.

One person we spoke to said the same person had stood him up three times. It was a potential client, and whilst the temptation is always there to try and chase down a sale, it’s certainly not wort it if you have to work that hard. A client who can treat you like that is one that’s unlikely to ever value what you offer, and will no doubt also be a bad payer.

 

 

Case Study: Social Media and processes

We realised the other day it’s been a while since we last did a case study.  Actually, we realised a few weeks ago, but we’ll be honest, we’ve been that busy we’ve not had the time to sit down and pull all the information needed together to make it worth reading.

See, even the experts struggle at times!

Now however, we’ve made time and here it is.  A case study looking at how we helped a restaurant in Cardiff build its customer base, and increase loyalty.

The client

Our client, Davide, runs an Italian restaurant in Edinburgh.  It’s a nice looking place (we’ve not been, but we’re contemplating a day trip at some point), and from what we’ve been told has a great atmosphere and serves traditional Italian cuisine.

Right up our street!

The problem

Davide’s biggest problem was that as his restaurant is off the main thoroughfare he doesn’t get a lot of passing footfall.  People come to his restaurant because they know about it, and sadly for him, not enough people seemed to know about him.

He’d taken over the restaurant from another owner who, by all accounts, had run it in to the ground, and developed a bad reputation.

Despite doing a lot to not only renovate the space itself (including a state of the art kitchen) and revamp the menu, Davide never took the time to shout about the new place.  There wasn’t even a press release.

He’d spent lots of money on a website, but wasn’t actively promoting it. Anywhere.  It was an online version of the actual restaurant – looked great, but hidden away and kept secret.

Davide was the first to admit that he wasn’t doing enough, and he knew that’s where the problems lay, but he was so overwhelmed and confused by what he should do that he was essentially standing still, completely unable to make a decision on how to move forward.

What Time Saving Heroes did

First of all, Lu had a long chat with Davide over the phone.  It was clear that although he didn’t have all the necessary skills needed to tackle his marketing on his own, he did have a lot of them – what he lacked was clarity, a strategy and if we’re honest, a degree of self-confidence.

An hour into their chat it was obvious that just having someone to bounce ideas around with was going to be a huge benefit to Davide. Within that short space of time he remembered why he wanted to set up the restaurant in the first place, and how passionate he’d been about it initially.

Instead of beating himself up about what he could have done differently, Lu encouraged him to start taking one step at a time, and focus on where he wanted to go.  It was during this conversation that Davide said he wanted to encourage local businesses to use the restaurant at lunch times, whilst pushing his other customers to come in the evenings.

On the back of this we initially decided to focus on LinkedIn.  Lu re-wrote Davide’s personal profile, and really focused on how he and his team could provide a quick and easy lunch for those on a quick break, a great venue for corporate entertaining, and even hosting for networking events.  She also set up a company page that Davide could link directly to.

After an intensive training session via Skype, Davide learnt the basics he needed to start using LinkedIn effectively to make contacts in the local area.  By the end of the first week he had arranged meetings with a local networking franchisee (who wanted a lunch time venue), a call centre manager (who knew his staff wanted an alternative off-site food option that wouldn’t eat in to their break), and an investment firm who wanted somewhere nice and quiet to meet with clients.

At the same time we set up Facebook and Twitter accounts for the restaurant and really started to focus on the domestic customers Davide wanted to attract.  We spent £50 on Facebook advertising, targeting a very specific age range and geographical area, which had great results. We also started using hashtags on Twitter to encourage happy hour, Fizz Fridays and Mum Mondays (where Mum’s ate for free, every week).

Almost immediately online bookings increased, as did walk-ins and Davide was thrilled, as you can imagine.  He never anticipated that doing a few simple things would have such a huge impact.  The great news for him, was that once we got him started, and showed him what to do, he could take over the reigns for himself.  Meaning that his marketing was handled in-house and wasn’t an ongoing cost for him.

However, that’s not the end of our relationship with Davide.

Once customers started coming through the door we encouraged him to set up, and maintain a database.  This would allow him to see where a customer had come from (Facebook, Twitter, local trade etc), and obtain their contact details so he could direct message in the future.  By asking for date of births, and other special occasions, we’re now able to,  on his behalf, send out specific emails offering discounts for Birthdays and anniversaries.

The feedback from his customers is brilliant – they love feeling like the team care about them enough to remember their special events, and they always come back and leave with a smile on their faces.

What Davide had to say

“The team at Time Saving Heroes are amazing, nothing is ever too much trouble, and they make me feel like I am their only client. I can pick up the phone and just have a moan to Lu, who handles it all with good grace and manages to lift my spirits when I’m having a bad day. Thankfully, such days are less now.

“I cannot say how much value Lu and the team have added, it’s much much more than I could have anticipated. I expected a bit of marketing, and instead I got friends, colleagues and someone who loves my business as much as I do.

“When you feel like you’re on your own at times, that’s worth so so much. You ever come to Edinburgh, the meal’s on the house”

 

We’ll take you up on that offer on day, Davide!