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.

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.

Social Media Resolutions for 2018

You’d be hard pressed to find a blog post or article that didn’t contain some reference to resolutions this week, and I’m sorry to say this one’s going to be no different. The start of a new year automatically brings with it the promise of fresh starts and new challenges, and so it should.

Many articles are going to focus around your personal resolutions; how to lose weight, achieve work-life balance or even further your career in 2018. But what if you run your own business? Can you still make career-based resolutions to propel you forward over the next 12 months?

Of course you can, and you most certainly should!

What you decide to focus on will depend on what it is you’re hoping to achieve by the end of the year, but here are my top five tips for things you should resolve to do with social media throughout 2018.

#1 – Automate

Let’s not waste time by discussing whether or not you should be using social media as part of your marketing mix (you should, there is no argument). Instead, let’s look at how to take the hassle out of it.

Many people worry they don’t have a consistent time where they can be online to publish content, and that’s a fair enough comment. However, you can use a wide variety of online tools to help you manage your social media accounts, and allow you to schedule your posts in advance.

Buffer is a great option, which will also help you source interesting content online, and then schedule it for a time that suits. Alternatively, my personal favourite is Hootsuite, as this will allow you to manage multiple social media accounts in one place.

Depending on your requirements (i.e. how many accounts you want to add) you may not even have to pay anything to use it!

#2 – Time Limits

I love social media, both personally and professionally, but it has a dark side – a side that means you can “pop” on for a five minute break, and then realise three hours later you’re still flicky-wooshing and commenting on pictures of other people’s meals! If I get stuck in a YouTube cycle of funny animals, I can be lost for days!

The key to managing your social media is therefore to set strict time limits, so you don’t get sucked in. Whether you want to go on every day to respond and post new content, or you want to schedule everything once a week or month, it doesn’t matter. Pick a time to do it, and decide, beforehand, how long you are going to complete the task you need to. Use a physical timer if necessary or even an alarm clock.

#3 – Reuse content

If you follow tip #2 hopefully locating or creating content to use in your social media posts won’t take up too much of your time; however, any time it does take up is not being used to its full potential if you only use that content once.

Some people hold the view that it’s “wrong” to share content more than once, certainly on the same platform, but that’s simply not true. I assure you, the social media police are not going to come looking for you!

I always try to produce “evergreen” content for my clients. This means it’s not tied to a specific one-off event, and can be useful days, weeks, months and even years in to the future. This way the content can be shared on multiple occasions.

Remember, not everyone on your Facebook page might have seen your original post at 12pm on a Monday, but they might catch it at 7pm the following Thursday.

#4 – Accept not everything works for you

As I said in point one, using social media as part of your marketing isn’t negotiable (not if you want to make any form of meaningful impact). However, what channels you use, is. Just because you have decided to embrace social media doesn’t mean you have to use every network going. Some simply won’t be of any use to you.

The important thing to remember here is what works for one business, may not work for another (even if they are in the same industry). It is vital you find out what does work for you, and you can do this either by trusting your gut or looking at analytics. Don’t be afraid to get rid of a social media account/page if you feel it’s zapping too much of your time for absolutely no return.

Remember, social media is meant to be social, if you find yourself posting content but no one is liking, sharing or interacting with it, then it’s serving no purpose whatsoever. Either see if you are doing something wrong which is impacting on your success, or accept it’s not the right choice for you and try something different.

#5 – Share it and outsource it

While it’s great to have original content, it’s not always possible or practical to create it on a regular basis. That means you have to find content from other people to share. This in itself is no bad thing, as it can still help you establish yourself as an authority in your field.

However, every so often you should create your own content to help express your own knowledge and opinions on a particular industry topic. For some, this might come easily; for others, less so. If you find that writing a 500 word blog is taking up a large part of your day, it may be worth paying a professional writer a fee to produce content on your behalf. It probably won’t take them much more than an hour and will be well worth whatever you have to pay for it, especially if you can keep reusing it.

Social Media Review

To get off to the best possible start with your social media marketing why not grab a FREE review from Time Saving Heroes?

You’re so vain, you probably think social media marketing is about you

We all know people who are “inwardly focussed”.  OK, let’s not beat about the bush here, self-involved.  Whether they be friends or work colleagues, we all have that person who dominates conversation. If you have done something, they’ve done it better.  If you’ve been ill, they had it worse.  No matter what you’re talking about, they skilfully turn the conversation back round to them.

No matter who it is, or what the situation they’re in, these people are a royal pain in the what-not. However, when it comes to networking and marketing, it’s potential business suicide.

Think about the last time you went to a networking event and were faced with a total stranger who thrust their hand out, introduced themselves and shoved a business card at you. Five minutes later you’re still listening to them drivel on about their business, the product, their experience, their sheer wonderfulness.

Did you ever do business with them?

Have you ever referred to them?

Come on be honest, do you now avoid them at all costs?

Thought so.

Social media marketing is absolutely no different.  When I start working with a new client they often query what to post on social media, usually citing the fact their industry isn’t interesting enough to post about twice a day.

When I reply that the last thing they want to do is keep talking about themselves, their industry or their product they look at me like I have two heads.

But how will I sell if I don’t mention my latest gadget?

Over the years I’ve learnt to curb my urge to face palm and cry; however, this still remains my initial instinct.

I know I’ve said it before, but if you’re new, or have forgotten, let me say it again: social media marketing is NOT about selling.  It’s about building relationships with your audience, and you can’t do that if all you try to do is sell to them.

No matter how many of my ramblings you’ve read in the past, you may well find yourself thinking this makes no sense.  Your business is on social media because you want to sell things. Your audience knows you want to sell things to them, and clearly they don’t mind otherwise they wouldn’t be following you.

Right?

Wrong.

The key thing you need to remember is that your audience is not on social media because they want to buy things. They use social media day in, day out for entertainment, to learn things, to keep on top of news and current trends, to interact and to be, well, social.

Your constant posts to buy, buy, buy are nothing more than spam.

They can’t learn, they can’t interact, they can’t engage.

If they can’t do these things at any point, they will tune out.  It doesn’t matter if they unfollow you, or simply mute you – the end result is the same.

You are never going to get them back.

When it comes to social media marketing your job is to inform your audience.  Tell them about products that are on the market – even if you don’t sell them. Let them know you are the best person to come to when they are looking for advice.  Don’t judge every interaction by what you immediately get out of it.

A customer may come to you, ask your advice and go elsewhere. But they will always remember how you took the time to help them in the first place.  Next time they need something they may come to you and actually purchase. If you wow them then, I assure you, you have a customer for life.  And that is definitely worth whatever time it cost you in the first place.

People cannot build a relationship with someone who just talks at them constantly – you need to find ways to make them want to interact and engage with you. Let them learn about you, what your values are, what you stand for and what your experience is. Get them to care about your story.

Look after them, and they will most definitely look after you.