How to Build Trust Online

For the last two weeks we’ve been talking about the importance of building the “know, like and trust” factor online.  So far we’ve given tips on how get known for your content, and how to build likeability through all your online activities.

 

This week it’s the turn of trust.

 

Everything we’ve suggested so far has been leading up to this bit.  It’s all well and good being known, and people being aware of you, and it’s great if they like you and want to interact with you – but if they can’t trust you?  Well, they’re not going to buy from you or recommend you further down the line.

 

We all know that trust is earnt, and there’s no reason why you can’t build that online.  Here are our top tips for precisely how to do that.

 

#1 – Give stuff away

We’ve already touched on this previously, but giving stuff away is a great way to tackle all three building blocks of successful networking.  Sharing your best content (there’s so much free stuff on the web, please don’t give people rubbish) will show that you’re authentic, but equally it will show you value your audience.

 

Giving stuff away means you’re generous, and not just in it for the sales.

 

#2 – Don’t disappoint

We can debate all day about how often you should post on social media or update your blog, but the reality is an arbitrary number means nothing if you’re not going to stick to it.  If you say you’re going to post a video every day – do it.  Going to produce a weekly blog?  Do it!

 

If you put it out there and then start breaking your promises, you’re already showing that you can’t be relied on to deliver.

 

#3 – Be consistently good

Following on from consisting posting, your posts also need to be consistent.  People need to know what they’re going to get from you – your content has to be of the same standard throughout.  Don’t just throw something together because it’s got to be done, take your time to craft a specific message, and keep it inline with what you’ve offered before.

 

If people know what to expect from you then they’re more likely to come to you before going anywhere else.

 

#4 – Share testimonials

It’s easy for any of us to say wonderful things about ourselves, so occasionally let a third party vouch for you.  Share testimonials, and let other people use their own words to demonstrate how you add value, or provide great customer service.

 

Try to mix it up a bit – is there any way you can use a case study to really make an impact?  How about getting someone on video talking about why they love working with you or using your products?

 

#5 – Avoid jargon

 

We can all be guilty of it at times, using industry jargon, and forgetting that other people might now know what the Hell we’re talking about. People can smell BS a mile off, even online so it’s vital you don’t try to hide behind complicated and technical language.  Make sure you are approachable, clear, concise and easy to understand.  Never talk down to your audience, and always be happy to answer their questions and explain yourself when needed.

 

#6 – Apologise when you’re wrong

 

No one is perfect, and there are times you’re going to make a mistake.  It might be a faulty product, a poor service, whatever; when you make a mistake put your hands up and admit to it.  We are all human, so the error is never really the problem, it’s always the way you handle it that matters.

 

Don’t try to hide from the fact you got something wrong, use it as an opportunity to review your processes, and work out how you can avoid that issue arising again in the future.  Those who have been impacted are likely to forgive you a lot quicker if you embrace the situation, and use it as a catalyst for change.

 

 

Remember, Time Saving Heroes offer a wide variety of content writing services as well as social media management. We’re happy to have a chat and give you tips on what you can do to improve your offering for your audience, so pick up the phone and give us a call on 0161 883 2024.

How to Build Likability Online

Last week we wrote about networking, and the importance of building the “know, like and trust” factor, and how that translates to online relationships.  We gave seven tips on how to build awareness via your content, whether that be your website, blog or social media activities.

 

This week we thought we’d look at building your likability online.

 

How likable you are really does matter when it comes to the buying process.  If you’re faced with two identical products, offered at an identical price who you purchase from will come down to personal preference. If one person is boring, difficult to communicate with and leaves you feeling uninspired and the other is open, friendly and engaging – who are you going to go with?

 

Some people are great in face to face situations, but often struggle to translate that in to online personality, which is a problem when it comes to relying on social media marketing.  Here are our top tips on demonstrating your likeability factor in a virtual world.

 

#1 – Be authentic

So many people think they can hide behind corporate personas and behave in ways they think they should behave in.  Nobody actually buys that, because what people are actually looking for is authenticity.

 

Your business is a brand, and as such it has a personality.  Let that shine through in every single piece of content you put out.  Be you, be real and be proud of what you stand for.  Create all your content in your own unique voice – just because a competitor is stale and dull and hides behind anonymity, doesn’t mean you have to.  Break your industry standard!

#2 – Be nice

Really this should be obvious, but so many people fall in to the trap of letting this one slip.  Don’t badmouth other people, no matter how tempting it might be.  A competitor might have made an error, but don’t ridicule them for it – maybe offer a viewpoint as to how the error could have happened, and what could be done to avoid it in future.  Don’t criticise.

 

Equally, be generous with your time, responsive and helpful to those who get in touch with you.

 

#3 – Initiate conversation

Ask your audience to get involved when you put out content.  Invite comments on blog posts, ask questions, look for opinions.  Remember, if you get feedback, in any form, make sure you respond to it.  Conversation really is two-way!

 

#4 – Be visible

Words are brilliant, and a great way to share information but make sure you are visible in every format.  Make the most of checkins, and Google+ hangouts, add video (both pre-packaged and live streaming), consider including podcasts and photos.  Mix it up a bit so you can appeal to everyone, and then you’ve got a better chance to analyse what is, and isn’t working.

 

Variety does make you far more interesting, and helps build likeability.

 

#5 – Put a face to the brand

It’s really hard to like a logo, people like people, so make sure your face is out there.  If you’re a larger business and have a team behind you, get some group shots, showcase your individual employees and make sure you tell your story in all About Us sections.

 

Let people in, show them what happens behind the scenes, give them sneaky peaks of your daily work life, what makes you tick, the things you love, the things you don’t, your annoyances, your highlights … let them in.

 

#6 – Get the mix right

Your marketing strategy should be 80% relationship building and 20% selling.  Some argue the ratio should be as high as 95% to 5%.  A lot will depend on you, your brand and your audience; however, it should never be less than 80% focussed on your audience. NEVER!

 

#7 – Be generous

Your content strategy shouldn’t just be about your content.  Make sure you share other people’s ideas and content too.  It really annoys me when people complain no one is sharing their content, when they don’t do it either.  Honestly, what do you expect?!

 

Think about the things your audience would find useful, and share third party information, offers etc surrounding that.  It really does make a huge difference, and the law of reciprocation means people will catch on and return the favour, eventually.

 

 

Remember, Time Saving Heroes offer a wide variety of content writing services as well as social media management. We’re happy to have a chat and give you tips on what you can do to improve your offering for your audience, so pick up the phone and give us a call on 0161 883 2024.

How to Get Known Online

Our Lu is the current Chair of Bury Business Group, the oldest and largely networking group in the Bury (Greater Manchester) area.  One thing that is key to successful networking is establishing the “know, like and trust” factor.  If people get to know you, they get to like you (hopefully) and ultimately they can trust you to do a good job.  All of that means they’re likely to use your services themselves, but even more importantly, will recommend you to their friends and family.

 

Most people understand that when it comes to physical face-to-face networking, but move that online, and all logic seems to go out the window.  Social media marketing, content marketing – whatever you want to call it, is absolutely no different.  You have to put the work in to be consistent, and show that people can know, like and trust you.

 

How do you do that when it comes to content?  If you’ve started a blog, or are thinking about creating one for your business, how do you build those relationships in a virtual world?  Here’s our top tips for getting a good online reputation.

 

#1 – Know who you’re talking to

Too many people think that because they’re content is going out online they’re talking to everyone.  In theory, your content has that potential, anyone can stumble across something you share; however, you’re not trying to appeal to everyone.  You cannot sell to everyone.

 

Here you need to be very clear about your buyer persona’s. Who is your target audience, what do they want to hear and read about, what interests them, and what products or services are they likely to want from you?  Make sure your content is tightly centred around them. Be completely specific!

 

#2 – Be an expert

One of the best things about blogs is that it allows you to express an opinion within a chosen field or topic, and as such you can exert yourself as an expert. However, giving your opinion isn’t enough. Give your ideas names and labels, really come up with something unique, rather than just spouting industry givens and common knowledge. Do something to really make YOU stand out, so you can become a thought leader.

 

#3 – Create the right content

No matter how tight your buyer persona is, and how on point you believe you are, the best thing you can do is actually ask your audience what it is they want to get from you.  Do your research, ask questions, dig that little big deeper to really understand your actual audience.  You may even find that you’re attracting a completely different market, and that’s one you can work with.

 

#4 – Create a free product

Yes, we know you want to make sales off the back of your blog, and you can, but one of the best ways to do that is to create a free product that you can distribute easily.  What problems do your target audience have, and how can you help them with that?  Create eBooks, newsletters, courses, top tips, podcasts, how-to videos and so on that your loyal followers have access to. Ask them to sign up, and from there you can create a database of people to reach out to (just make sure you are compliant under the new GDPR regulations).

 

#5 – Build relationships

It goes without saying that you should be building relationships with your audience, taking the time to actually connect with them rather than simply throwing content out there, but that’s not the only thing you should do.  Make sure you’re following key influencers in your market and industry, connect with them, comment on their content, share their content, interact and build relationships with them, too.

 

That doesn’t mean you have to be a suck-up and start virtually stalking these people, but get involved in genuine conversations.  Ask questions, and encourage interaction.  This is a great way to get noticed, and could lead to some interesting debates and further content to put out.

 

#6 – Interview the experts

Following on from the above point, if you can build relationships with key influencers, you may be able to interview them as part of your content.  That way you can tap in to their audience in a big to increase your own.  Everyone benefits from increased exposure, and your audience will enjoy seeing something different and having an alternative perspective.

 

#7 – Guest blog

Guest blogging on other sites is a great way to further expand your own audience and reach.  Showing that you’re not the only one who values your opinion, but being invited to share content on someone else’s platform is a further example of social proof, and will definitely do you and your brand no harm.

 

 

Remember, Time Saving Heroes offer a wide variety of content writing services as well as social media management. We’re happy to have a chat and give you tips on what you can do to improve your offering for your audience, so pick up the phone and give us a call on 0161 883 2024.

How social media can help warm up cold leads

Yesterday I wrote a piece on cold calling, and today I thought I’d carry on that theme.

I always bang on about how social media is a great way to expand your audience and generally raise brand awareness, but it can be a huge help when it comes to warming up cold leads.

Let’s say you’ve done your research and you have a list of prospects you want to contact.  Yes, you could just drop them an email, or pick up the phone to schedule an appointment, but we all know the chances of you getting anywhere with that are quite remote.  Someone that doesn’t know you, and hasn’t had any contact from you in the past, isn’t going to jump at the prospect of working with you.

It can be hard to know how to make contact with someone you don’t actually know, but the reality is with social media you can reach out to countless people around the globe. Yet, for some reason, so few people actually bother.

If you look at your list there’s a good chance every company on there is going to have at least one social media channel.  It might be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest to name but a few.  If you’re serious about reaching out and starting a two-way relationship, then you need to start following them.

Not only that, you should actively interact with them.  Now, I don’t mean you should RT everything they post, that’s entering in to creepy stalker territory, but do get involved where it makes sense to.  Tag them in posts you think would be relevant to them, engage in conversation.  DM them when it’s appropriate to do so to introduce yourself, and perhaps your business and services.

If the company is on LinkedIn, follow them and share some of their updates.  You can also find out who some of the employees are at the business, which may make it easier for you to make contact and get a positive outcome further down the line.  Where possible make contact with these people.  You can always lead with “I’ve been following your business on Twitter for some time and would like to find out more about what you offer”.

I always say social networking is not simply about collecting names.  It doesn’t matter who you know if you don’t genuinely know them, and can’t reach out to them when you need something.  You need to take the time to nurture these relationships, and honestly it will pay off in the end.

 

5 examples of good LinkedIn etiquette

I’ve been doing this gig for a while now, yet it never fails to amaze me how bizarrely people act on social networks compared to how they would in real life.

It’s almost as though when you sit someone behind a screen and ask them to connect with a fellow human being, all rational thought and social etiquette goes out the window.

And it really gets my goat.

So here are my top 5 tips when it comes to LinkedIn etiquette.

# 1 – Be personal when connecting

If you’ve decided you want to connect with someone, take the time to send them a personalised connection request.

If you were in a face to face environment you wouldn’t just go up to someone and shove your business card in their face, hoping they’d get back in touch with you one day. That would be rude.

It kind of works the same way on LinkedIn.

Sending someone a generic message shows you can’t be bothered to explain to them why you’re reaching out. What is it about them that makes you want to connect?  What is it you think you can offer them that would be of benefit?

Yes, many people will accept your request regardless of how you ask them to connect, but they’re not going to be invested in you.  They’ll just ignore your posts, and ultimately might end up removing you as a connection anyway. So what’s the point?

Put the effort in now, and you have a much better chance of establishing a genuine networking relationship.

# 2 – Once you accept, send a message

Far too often when you accept a connection request from a random person they don’t actually get in touch.  That means there’s no interaction, which is kind of the whole point of LinkedIn. Isn’t it?

The best thing you can do is send someone a personalised message as soon as you accept their invitation.  This is a great way to get the conversation started, and also get a better feel for whether they’re genuine, or are just collecting names and bulking out their contacts list.

# 3 – Say thank you

No doubt your parents always taught you to say please and thank you – well that rule hasn’t gone out the window just because you’re on LinkedIn.

If someone has taken the time to endorse you for one of your skills, then you owe then a thank you.  After all, they’ve gone out of their way to do something that’s of no benefit to them, but could be of benefit to you.

They didn’t have to do that.

Don’t feel obligated to endorse them back, although, if you can genuinely recommended them for a skill they possess there’s no reason why you wouldn’t.  However, make sure you avoid the trap of trading endorsements when you have no idea what you’re really talking about.

# 4 – Keep it professional

Not all social networks are created equal, and nor do they have the same purpose.  LinkedIn is not the place for you to share photos of your kids, your dog or to moan about the weather.

LinkedIn is business focussed, which means anything you post should be business related.  You can post about what you’re up to, who you want to connect with, ask for information or assistance from your connections and discuss industry news.

But no one wants to see a picture of what you’re having for lunch.

# 5 – Introduce people

The whole point of networking is to increase your network. I know it sounds obvious, but apparently when it comes to LinkedIn many people seem to have forgotten this.

One of the best things you can do when it comes to using this amazing platform is take the time to introduce your contacts. If you know someone who’s looking for a web designer, and you happen to know a web designer, then take a minute to introduce them to each other.

Facilitate other people’s connections and you greatly increase your own social capital, as well as getting a warm fuzzy feeling for doing a good thing.

 

If you want more tips on Netiquette please email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk or call 0161 883 2024 to find out when our next training session is.

When friends aren’t friends

As someone who uses social media to market my personal brand, my business, my author persona, and for my clients I often take my presence on many networking platforms for granted.

Of course I’m on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  I dabble in a few others, but those three are my stalwarts for communication.

Over the years as I’ve met more and more people through networking I’ve accumulated significantly more *friends*. In fact, as I write this I have 424 of them on Facebook.

I say *friends* because it’s obviously a bit of a misnomer.

The standard definition of a friend is: “a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations”.

Personally I feel the word affection oversells it a bit for a lot of my Facebook connections.  They’re alright, we perhaps get on, but that doesn’t necessarily make them my friends (any more than I am to them).

For me, a friend is someone you’d call up and invite round for a coffee.  You’d go out your way to phone a friend on their birthday. You’d actually check in with them once in a while.

I assure you I do not do that with the vast majority of my 424 *friends*.  And more’s the point, they don’t do it with me either.

Those of you that have had the pleasure of being friends with me on Facebook (or actually, shock horror, spend time with me in real life) will know I’m ever so slightly opinionated. I quite like a drink. I occasionally get selfie happy. And I swear far more than my Mother is comfortable with (sorry Mum, don’t know what happened there).

I’m loud, I’m proud and I’m gobby.  And just occasionally that really gets up people’s noses.

Whilst I understand and respect people’s rights to take a step back and think “oooh, she’s a bit whoa”, there’s not a tiny part of me that’s sorry.  You see, my Facebook profile is all about ME.  The good, the bad and the hungover.

On Facebook you see the real me. The piddled off with the world, frustrated Mum who wonders if it’s acceptable to drink at 2pm because it’s already been a long day. The Mum who can’t help but find it funny that her three year old can swear like a sailor in total context.  Yes, I know it’s not ideal, but he’s not beating the cr*p out of anyone or calling people names, so I’ll take that as a win. The Mum that sometimes thinks her autistic son is playing the ASD card a little too well, and might actually just be a kn*b at times.

Yeah, I said that.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking more about my social media presence. This whole accepting friends invites from people I barely know, but maybe met once at a networking event just because they asked and it would be rude not to isn’t sitting well with me.  I want to share photos of my babies, I want to moan about the client that hasn’t paid, I want to talk about my day and the idiot that wound me up without fear of recriminations.

I want to, and I will dag nammit.

So, I am having a legendary cull (though, because I’m not an attention seeking numpty I won’t be announcing it and then congratulating the people who were lucky enough to ‘survive’).  My cull isn’t meant to be the virtual equivalent of two fingers sticking up at a foe.

Instead it’s a nod to the fact that our relationship is, and should be, purely professional.  If you have been deleted (the ultimate virtual insult), please do not be offended.  Remember I am doing this because we are not mates, and that’s not a bad thing.  I want you to see me as the polished, consummate professional I pretend to be Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.  Well, some of the time between those hours, anyway.

Equally, I want to see you in the same way.

If I bump in to you at a networking event I don’t want my first thought to be “That was a lot of cleavage on Friday night”, or “Interesting adjectives you’ve been using for your ex-husband’s new girlfriend”, or “You come across as a self-indulged know-it-all in your look-at-me posts #LuckyGirl #Mumpreneur #LaptopLifestyle #HashtagAllTheThingsUntilSomethingSticks #IAmSoAmazingEveryoneWantsToBeLikeMe”.

They’re just examples from this week.

Some of them might be slightly exaggerated. To my knowledge nobody has used the last hashtag. Which is actually a shame. That would have been amusing.

Invariably we add people because we want to feel connected, but connection only comes from interaction.  When all your *friends* do is sit there and watch your life unfold before them, but aren’t actually part of your day to day doings, then that’s not friendship. That’s voyeurism.

Let’s just keep that, and the sales pitches to LinkedIn, shall we?

 

PS: Currently down to 260 actual friends.  It’s strangely cathartic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 ways to separate your professional contacts from your Facebook friends

Even if you don’t really engage much with social media, the chances are you have a Facebook profile.  No matter what your employment status, there is likely to come a time when you get a friend request from a professional contact.

It could be an employer, co-worker, client or fellow networker.

In this day and age when everyone seems to take these friendships so seriously, it can be difficult to know how to handle professional relationships online.

Facebook is a relaxed social network, and as such is very different to something like LinkedIn.  You’ll no doubt share photos of your family and friends, as well as post your own opinions and have the occasional moan. At times that’s likely to be in conflict with your personal brand.

How then do you manage the crossover between public and professional life, and your unreserved no-holds barred private one?  Thankfully, there are four options you can choose from.

# 1 – Restricted list

Within the privacy settings you have the option to add people to a restricted list.  This list ensures that they won’t see posts that you only share with friends. However, they will be able to see your public posts, and will likely see anything you post to a mutual friends’ timeline, or posts that you have been tagged in by others.

The best thing about this is it’s easy to use and manage, and people won’t know they’ve been added to the list and Facebook doesn’t notify them. Essentially they become followers, but aren’t aware of any changes.

To use this, click on your drop down arrow in the top right of your page, select SETTINGS, and then BLOCKING from the menu on the left.

All you need to is select specific friends you would like to add to the list, and you’re done.

When you then post something, you can select the specific audience for each post such as public or friends.

# 2 – Create an alias

Another option is to create an alternative account, and use this for either your family and friends, or professional contacts.

That way you can essentially have two very distinct audiences you can post relevant content to.

Technically this is against Facebook rules, and your profile could be shut down if they stumble across it or someone reports you.

# 3 – Accept you have professional contacts

In an ideal world your professional contacts would follow your Facebook business page and therefore wouldn’t have any need to be friends with you on their too. However, some people start off adding their contacts, only later to realise there may be an issue.

You could request that all your professional contacts like your page, and slowly migrate them over to that instead. Though, there will always be some people that don’t do this and you may end up losing them all together.

Alternatively, you could decide to use Facebook in a more professional manner, and refrain from posting anything that might appear negative for your personal or business brand.

You might even go old school and share private and personal information with friends and family in a more private and personal forum. Such as face to face. Or the phone.

# 4 – Don’t add professional contacts

In order to remove any issues about what is or isn’t appropriate content in a business context you might want to consider not adding your professional contacts in the first place.

What you do and don’t post, and who you share it with is always going to be your decision – and there is no right or wrong answer. Only you can decide what feels appropriate to you.

Personally, this is the route I prefer to go down as it makes the most sense for me.  I don’t want to censor my content for friends and family just in case a client might see it – so I don’t add clients.

If I get a friend request from a professional contact I advise them of my personal policy, and direct them to like my business page and add me on LinkedIn if they haven’t already. These are two fantastic ways to connect on social media, and ensure everything remains 100% professional and on brand.