Why size really doesn’t matter

Whenever I talk to people about their current business activity on social media, they often complain about the number of people who follow them. It doesn’t matter if it’s Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook – the number of followers or fans always seems to equate to success as far as they’re concerned.

Big is better, and biggest is best. Apparently.

The problem seems to be even worse when they start to compare the size of their following with those of their competitors.

“Well, John has 500 followers, and we only have 390. No wonder he’s doing better than us.”

I confess in this instance I’m always keen to discover how they know John is doing better.  Because he says so? Well, he’s hardly going to admit sales are down and he’s not sure how he’s going to pay the bills next month is he?

We always assume others have got it together and we don’t, but that’s rarely the reality.

However, let’s make one thing perfectly clear – a larger following does not necessarily mean more business.

Forget online and social media. Let’s look at the real world.

Imagine you have a shop in a dingy back street with very little passing trade. Your competitor, on the other hand is located in the middle of the High Street, and has over 1,000 people pass by their door every day.

Who is doing better in terms of trade?

In all honesty, you have no idea.

More people have the potential to see their shop than yours, but does that equate to more business?  It all means nothing if no one is actually going in and buying anything.

For all you know the five customers you have who actually pop in and purchase exceeds the one he has who window shops.  Plus, your rent is probably lower.

Who’s doing better now?

Social media works in exactly the same way.  Having more followers simply means there is more opportunity for your posts to be seen by people, it doesn’t mean you’re going to do any better from it. In fact, if you have a smaller community of fans who do engage and interact with your content you are most definitely going to do better than someone who is receiving no contact from their audience.

This is the precise reason why I find it so frustrating when people “buy” followers.  Yes, for a mere £20 (or less) you can bump your audience by 20,000.  You may think that looks impressive, you might even assume it gives you a certain amount of credibility – but does it?

There is no “search pages with large followers” option when it comes to Facebook.  The only way a complete random person is going to stumble across your page is if you pay for an ad, or one of your genuine followers interacts with your content.  A paid for, made up profile is not going to do that, and therefore there is simply no benefit to going down this route.

Instead of looking for quick fixes that you think make you look good, take the time to build genuine relationships with your target audience and existing clients.  Reach out to them, ask them questions, thank then when they do respond and most importantly, stop just trying to sell to them.

If you’re not sure how to build relationships online, get in touch with Lu at Time Saving Heroes today – we are always happy to offer some advice. Call 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk

 

 

Your message is not important to us

Despite the impression I like to give, I am only human, and that means even I the-ever-writing-Lu can find it hard at times to come up with content.  Thankfully this week I’ve been given a bit of a hand by some really bad customer service experiences on social media.

One of the most popular services we provide at Time Saving Heroes is social media management.  Whilst we offer a whole host of services in this area, for the most part people just want regular content posting out via their networks.  However, I always try to remind people that it’s not about what they sell or do, but how they engage and build relationships with their audience/customers.

Some people get that, some just don’t.

Never is this more pronounced than when you look at how people manage their business pages Facebook Messenger.  On countless occasions I have stumbled across a page, found the content interesting, liked it, commented and proceeded to follow.  In time I have found myself actually needing to find out something – so I hit the trusty “Send Message” button and wait.

Sometimes I have to wait a few hours – which even the most impatient of individuals can probably live with.

Most times, I have to wait a week, or longer.

In some instances no reply comes at all.

For those of you who have Facebook business pages can I just ask – why are you taking the time to set up a page, fill it with content and to add all your contact details only to ignore your potential customers when they bother to reach out to you?

What the Hell is the point?!

Not only are you potentially missing out on a sale in the here and now, but actually you are leaving a really bad taste in someone’s mouth.  Having managed numerous business pages over the last few years I totally get how annoying “the public” can be.  The seemingly endless barrage of questions that are time consuming to respond to – and they don’t end up buying anyway.  Yes, I get it, but sorry buttercup, that’s what you’re there for.  It’s called customer service.

It’s like having a phone, and never bothering to answer the bloody thing!

If you really don’t want people to get in touch with you via direct messaging, don’t offer it as a method of communication.  And if you are going to offer it, make sure you manage it properly.

If you don’t have the time, then you need Time Saving Heroes.

If you leave your marketing until you have time, it’s too late

What do you do to promote your business?

Every business is different, but the one thing that’s always essential is marketing.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve got people forming an orderly queue for your services, you still need to market. NEVER make the mistake of thinking you’re busy, so it doesn’t matter.

Yes, you might well be busy, and therefore remembering to do all the important things like updating your blog or posting on social media can seem impossible.  But, the reality is, you should never wait until you’re quiet to promote your business.

That’s just insanity.

Hiring a virtual assistant can ensure that you can juggle everything that your business needs.  You can stay focussed on meeting new clients, or doing the physical work whilst a Time Saving Hero takes on all the time consuming, yet essential, digital marketing aspects.

Here at Time Saving Heroes we can:

  1. Manage your business blog
  2. Moderate comments via your blog, and respond where necessary
  3. Add images and tags to your blogs
  4. Create lists for email marketing campaigns
  5. Keep email lists up to date (adding and removing subscribers as necessary)
  6. Creating and scheduling newsletters and marketing emails
  7. Write blog posts
  8. Update content on your website
  9. Produce other content marketing material (infographics etc)
  10. Do research on keywords

 

If these are things that you keep meaning to do, but just can’t find the time for, get in touch with one of our Time Saving Heroes today.

Just give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

 

Social Media Platforms: The Pros and Cons

Over the last few weeks I’ve been giving you top tips on trying to find the ideal social media platform for you to launch your digital marketing. I think I’ve made it pretty clear during this time that you’re unlikely to just randomly stumble on the perfect mix – it is something that takes time and will require your attention.

That said, in true Time Saving Heroes style, I have pulled together some quick fire bits of information about various platforms to help you make your decision.

Facebook

Started in 2004 Facebook has the benefit of being a real powerhouse in the digital world. As a result they are a real leader when it comes to innovation and listening to their users. Incidentally, reports indicate there are 1.65 billion active users of Facebook per month, so there’s a good chance your audience will be logging on at some point.

Thanks to how long it’s been operating it’s likely that most people will have a personal account, which means it can be a great place for someone to launch their business presence from. Business pages operate in much the same way as personal pages, and are all pretty intuitive. New features and options are always being added, and you can now include live video and information on particular products and services.

However, over the years Facebook has become more of a pay-to-play space, with businesses being subjected to an increasingly complicated algorithm for generating reach. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on targeted ad’s or don’t want to constantly test out best posting times etc then Facebook may not be for you.

Equally, if your primary audience are teens or millennials, then you may find that they are starting to head elsewhere these days. Younger audience appear to be preferring to use Instagram and Snapchat instead.

Twitter

Slightly younger than Facebook, Twitter still has a wealth of experience and lots to offer. However, while it is growing as an ad platform, the algorithm timeline means you are likely to end up experiencing the same drop in reach as counterparts do on Facebook.

That said, it is a fantastic platform to use if you want to provide instant updates and keep people involved and up to speed with a particular event or product launch. The one drawback may be that user numbers are stalling compared to other networks, and those who are new to the platform don’t necessarily hang around.

Instagram

When you think of Instagram, you immediately think of photos – which makes it a fantastic place to go if you have a visually appealing product to sell. Great content can gain almost instant traction and huge levels of engagement, helping you to reach your audience.

However, as with other networks, algorithms are likely to have an impact on future performance, and increased advertising is sure to see organic posts falling when it comes to reach.

LinkedIn

The oldest social network site of the bunch, LinkedIn is the go to place for professionals, and entirely dominates this space. It is a fantastic place to make genuine business connections and seek out thought leaders in your industry.

However, low numbers of users are actually active (in comparison to other platforms), and as such you often need to post content multiple times to ensure it is seen. The down side is that LinkedIn can become very time consuming, though the rewards for genuine interaction and relationship building are undoubtedly worth it.

 

Pinterest

My personal problem with Pinterest is how addictive it is, but then, that is kind of the point. From a marketing perspective it is a great place to target women, even though it is starting to gain more traction with male audiences.

The ability to add a Buy Now button is fantastic for direct commerce, however, it is essential you have quality photographs of products, and may need to spend money on a commercial photographer. The site can also be a bit confusing at first, and does not lend itself well to those who want a quick-fire way of reaching people.

 

Snapchat

As mentioned previously, Snapchat is becoming increasingly popular with younger audiences, so if this is your target, you’d be daft not to consider this platform. However, it can take some getting used to and the downside is that it can be very hard to track the actual performance of snaps, so you’re never quite sure whether what you’re doing is working.

While content curators are moving in to this space, and will continue to do so, it’s fair to say that Snapchat does still have quite the reputation for being a sexting app.

Where are your customers?

Last week I talked specifically about the amount of time you had to be social, and why this was an important thing to bear in mind.

When I start working with a new client on their social media one of the things I ask during my fact find is “what platforms do your customers use”. Usually I’m given one of two answers:

1.      I don’t know

2.      All of them

Depending on the mood I’m in I might start asking how many of their customers use QQ, We Chat, Baidu Tieba, Viber, Kiwibox or Skyrock. If I’ve had coffee and am therefore slightly less sarcastic, I may just explain that “all of them” does not simply mean Facebook or Twitter.

In fact, there are so many social networking sites it’s impossible to really keep a handle on a comprehensive list of what’s available. “All of them” is never a realistic answer.

With that in mind then, I ask again, where are your customers when are they online? Chances are you won’t know the actual answer (unless you are stalking them) but you can take an educated guess.

Facebook remains the most popular platform, closely followed by YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Some people may have accounts on a variety of different networks, but most will favour just one or two. Personally I live on Facebook (to keep in touch with friends and share sarcastic posts) and Pinterest (great for Home Ed ideas and knitting projects). Professionally I prefer Twitter and LinkedIn because it allows me to share information quickly, and interact with others who have similar interests.

When it comes to deciding where you should focus your attention you need to think about what you have to offer, and what interactions you are looking for. If you’re a handyman is it worth posting videos showcasing your skills or offering top tips for simple DIY? If so, YouTube could be a great channel for you, followed by Facebook so you can share your videos.

I used to do a lot of work with a wool shop in Devon who started posting simple video tutorials on YouTube for basic knitting patterns. Knitting newbies would see the video, get inspiration and then be directed to their online shop to purchase the materials they needed. Sales went through the roof.

If you sell products that are visually pleasing then Pinterest may seem like the most logical choice; however, the audience for this site still has a huge US bias, which is great, as long as you can ship there. It might well be that Instagram is a better option instead.

Do you want people to like and share your content, or do you want them to interact? Do you want to start conversations and debates, sharing information and knowledge, or do you want people to passively digest your message? Again, a lot of this will come back to how much time you have.

These are all things to think about before just jumping in to a particular platform because everyone else is there.

How much time do you have to get social?

I recently offered five resolutions you should embrace throughout 2018 when it comes to your social media marketing. Number four was an acceptance that not every social media network or platform is going to be the right one for you. The simple fact is there are numerous different platforms to get your head around (probably a lot more than you think), and each one of them brings with it its own unique blend of pro’s and con’s.

How do you weigh up all your options and make an informed choice, without spending hours going back and forth and merely wasting time? Over the next few weeks I will give you some top tips on areas you should concentrate on, which should, in theory, help make your decision easier.

Today, I want you to think about how much time you have.

Social media is a fantastic marketing tool, not least because it is entirely free (though, as with many things, there are ways for you to spend your money). However, while it doesn’t necessarily carry a financial cost, it will take up a lot of your time if you let it.

If you are planning to use social media then you are no doubt planning on building a loyal and engaged fan base. No matter how wonderful your product is, that doesn’t happen overnight. You will need to have great content, which will no doubt come in a variety of formats; blogs, jokes, photos, videos, reviews, infographics etc. These things don’t just fall out of the sky, you will either have to source them or create them yourself.

You then have to find time to post them, which in itself is time consuming before you even factor in the analytical research you have to do to ascertain what the best time for you to post to your audience is.

However, social media is not just about putting great content out there, you need to be on hand to interact and encourage interaction. How are you going to get your audience to comment, like and share? One way is to build actual relationships – that means commenting, liking and sharing on their content too. That, I am sorry to say, can’t be faked or automated (though, it can be outsourced, of course).

It doesn’t matter how much time you have, just be honest with yourself.

If you don’t have much then the simple truth is you need to make the most of what time you do have. There is no point in jumping in to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn if you can only spare five minutes per day on all three. You will barely be able to schedule a post, let alone build any relationships. It is vitally important that you don’t spread yourself too thinly.

Social media is not a competition, and simply because someone else (perhaps a competitor) is on certain platforms does not mean you have to follow suit. Especially if you aren’t going to do a very good job of it. You may actually end up hindering your chances and destroying your relationships and brand in the process.

For those that are new to social media within their business, and don’t have much time to spare, I strongly recommend sticking with what you know. If you are more likely to be found on Twitter in your personal life than Instagram, then stick with that.

You will already know far more than you may think in terms of how the platform works, who is on there, the best times to post, and the content that gets the most interaction. Use that insider knowledge already at your disposal to give you a leg up. You can always add more platforms as time goes on and ask your existing followers to follow you elsewhere too.

Remember, if time is an issue you can schedule posts in advance using things like Hootsuite (my personal favourite), Buffer or Social Sprout. Sitting down one day a week, or month and pre-loading content for your social network is a much better use of your time as you will be in the “zone” and able to concentrate on your voice and the message you are trying to put out there. You will then just have to find a small amount of time per day to engage with your network and comment in real time.

New year, new content?

What can you do to make 2018 the best year as far as content marketing is concerned?

Make a plan, stick to it

One of the hardest things about content writing is doing it consistently.  For many people it’s easy to get started, but after a few weeks they find they’re posting when they find the time. This sort of approach means that it won’t be long before you realise you haven’t posted anything new for months!

The best thing you can do is come up with a content schedule.  How in depth this is, is up to you; however, it’s better to have something rather than nothing.  Perhaps you want to push company news on a Tuesday, or specific services on a Thursday. Maybe you’ll only blog once a week, in which case you can start to think about what might be topical and relevant to your audience.

Making a content schedule is a lot like having a work out plan – it’s no good if you have too many cheat days.  You certainly won’t see any of the benefits! The reality is the more you post, the more visible you become and this gives you, your business and your site more credibility.  Try to post at least once a week!

Do something different

If you’ve never embraced content before, now might well be the time to think about.

On the other hand, if you have and even use a content schedule to good effect, 2017 is the year for you to start thinking about spicing things up.  Adding the occasional infographic, or even video might encourage your audience to interact.  Could you even add a few free eBooks for people to download that help them with a particular issue or subject?

Promotion, promotion, promotion

It’s all well and good ensuring you have great content on your site, but how are you getting people to see it?  You need to make sure you’re getting it out there, otherwise what’s the point?

Not only do you need to make sure you have a schedule for creating and uploading content, but you need one to promote it too.  It doesn’t matter what social media platforms you use, or whether you completely automate the process, the key again is consistency.

The great thing with content, especially if it’s evergreen, is that you can use it so many times.  Play around with what works for your audience, and start tracking what days or times you get the most hits.  You can then work this in to your scheduling plan.