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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Have you got the new LinkedIn layout yet?

Some of you with your finger on the pulse are no doubt well aware of the changes LinkedIn is bringing to its user interface throughout 2017. For some, the new look has been available since late 2016, for others it is still in the process of rolling out.

Which side of the experience you sit on seems to be pretty random, from what I can tell.

For those who have already been swapped over, or for those who are still waiting the Big Change, I thought I would run through a few of the main differences between the two versions, to help you get your bearings.

The Colour

As changes go, the move to teal isn’t really a big deal (unless you’re colourblind, perhaps) however, LinkedIn has been a variation of grey, black, white and blue for, well, for ever, so the change takes a bit of getting used to.

According to LinkedIn logic, the change is to synergise with their app, so things will hopefully be a little more intuitive for those switching between mobile and desktop.

The Home page

When you go to the new home page you will see a snapshot of your profile on the left hand side. This will show your background image, profile picture, headline as well as how many times your profile and latest article have been viewed.

Personally, I prefer the new layout as a lot of things I am interested in looking at are now all in one easy to find space. However, I do think it’s a shame they have removed the ranking feature, which was always a good way of establishing what was working, and what wasn’t. Fingers crossed they bring it back.

Share an article, photo or update is now all on one line; making it easier to access in some ways, but may prove confusing for some. Equally, the publish an article option is now on a separate line, and seems to be a much quicker way of getting to write and post an article. Some people have been complaining about it, but personally I can’t see any issue.

Other than the ads, nothing is really different with your timeline at all, other than, in my opinion, it looks a little cleaner and easier to navigate.

Your Profile

We no longer have a profile section, instead it’s just Me. You can still access it by clicking on your circular photo on the right of the tool bar at the top, and a drop down menu will appear offering you a variety of options including view profile, as well as all the standard settings etc.

When you look at your profile you will see that the background image has changed dimension. LinkedIn suggest that 1536 x 738 works best, but in reality, 1800 x 300 appears to.

Your profile photo is now smaller, and circular (which I think improves matters), and your summary section is no longer completely visible. People will have to click See More to view it all, which means it is imperative you make those first two lines count! It might well be worth reviewing your content at this time.

One downside is you can no longer move sections of your profile around to customise what is important to you. This might be a feature that is brought back in time, and admittedly isn’t the end of the world, but it was a nice to have for a while.

Next week I’ll cover what other people’s profiles look like from your perspective, as well as the new My Network section and Notifications.

In the meantime, if you want to take advantage of this new layout to create new content for your LinkedIn profile get in touch for a review or advice: call 0161 883 2024.

Don’t let the Clinton effect ruin your networking

I woke this morning with an urge to write a blog about networking, and it may seem a bit contrived to shoehorn the US election in to the content, but it’s more than simply a chance to jump on the trending bandwagon. If one thing has been made clear over the last few months it’s the adage of “know, like and trust” on which all networking is founded.

Clinton lost this campaign on the grounds that while people do know her, thanks to her long association with American politics, they also know they don’t like her and they sure as Hell don’t trust her.

That constant recital of her curriculum vitae – the focus on her experience as First Lady, her time as a US Senator for New York and then of course the fact she was Secretary of State – did nothing to drag the voters to her door. Yes, she has a wealth of experience, and undoubtedly she is the most qualified Presidential candidate to ever run, but the events of last night have shown that means nothing when people don’t like or trust you.

I could waffle on for paragraphs about why Clinton lost, it doesn’t matter. She did and the world moves on. Besides, this is not a blog about the US Election. It’s about networking, remember?

It’s almost two years to the day since I attended my first breakfast networking group. I loved it immediately, and joined as soon as possible. I am still a member now of that particular group, although attendance can be a little hit and miss depending on what Eric is up to with his sleep patterns. That said, for having a nine week old baby, I don’t think I’m doing too badly.

But I digress.

Since then I have joined other groups, and see networking as the primary part of my marketing efforts (blogging and Twitter aside). This is because, for me anyway, it works. People get to know me, they see my passion for what I do, they realise I do actually know what I’m talking about (post a cup of coffee, anyway) and that I’m a decent human being. I’m not perfect, but they know I am never going to screw them over, or put them in a difficult position.  They know I can be relied upon and, whether they always like it or not, they will never get anything but the absolute truth from me.

Networking allows people to get to know me, and looking at the results, they end up liking and trusting me. Which is great, as that’s kind of the point.

Admittedly business isn’t about making friends. This isn’t about me trying to find a circle of people I can go have a drink with (though, it’s amazing how many of them do like to go out for the occasional glass of prosecco). It is purely about business – but you have to be a decent human being underneath it all.

I have, on countless occasions, stopped working with someone because I couldn’t trust them. There are people I know now that I cannot recommend because I do not trust them. The reason for that loss of trust may have nothing to do with their business, it may be a purely personal issue, but that is the point – personality and personal history comes in to it. If you are sleazy, underhand, conniving, manipulative, a cheat or a bully then people are going to struggle to recommend you to anyone.

The simple truth is that every referral we pass is a reflection on us. You may well know the best builder in the world, but if he is rude to customers, or has a tendency to trample mud all through someone’s house, then the chances are you’re going to recommend the second best builder. The person you are referring to will ultimately thank you for saving them from a bad experience.

While we may question what the American voters were thinking, it is important to remember that in a situation where you find yourself unable to like or trust one of the candidates, you have to opt for the other one if you want to exercise your democratic right.

When it comes to business, don’t make your potential customers vote for the other guy purely because you’re unlikable or untrustworthy.

How social media can help warm up cold leads

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.