How much time do you have to get social?

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.

Stop saying Social Media doesn’t work

Despite the fact that social media marketing can boast positive ROI for up to 92% of businesses who use it, it’s still a largely underrated mode of getting your brand out there.

Last week I was at an Expo and it was a great opportunity to speak to a whole new market and make new contacts.  For some people, the second I mentioned that social media management and training was one of the services I offered, they switched off.  Just not interested.

Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s fine – however, I decided to challenge some of them to find out what their aversion to the big bad world of social was.  Here’s what I discovered:

# 1 It’s just a fad

No, really.  In 2018 we still have people who believe social media is just a “fad”.  I don’t mean to be rude or appear mocking but, really?!

This argument might have held a bit of weight in 2007 if I was trying to sell the concept of digital marketing, but ten years later I think we have to accept it’s not about to fizzle out.  Facebook has over 1.2 billion users, a figure that is actually increasing and all platforms are constantly evolving in order to keep their users happy.

There is an entire generation that knows nothing but social – people expect it!  I can buy the argument that maybe your target audience doesn’t engage with social media, and that’s all well and good, but please stop suggesting it’s not got longevity in it!

# 2 It’s free

Some people I spoke to seemed to think that digital marketing, specifically engaging with audiences via social networking sites, wasn’t worth it because it was free.

It took me a while to get my head round this.

Essentially, there is perceived value in paying for something; which conversely means if you’re not paying for something, it’s worthless.  When it comes to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like you can access free accounts, and assuming you’re not paying for any form of advertising, it doesn’t have to cost you a penny.

Of course, my argument was you could pay me to manage it for you so it does cost you something …

# 3 It doesn’t work

The people who had tried to engage with social media marketing in the past cited the fact they had poor results as a reason not to bother again.  On further probing it actually turns out that they were either buying followers, or didn’t have a coherent strategy.

Consider the former; if you are simply buying people to follow you, in a bid to look more popular than you are, then you can’t complain about the lack of engagement or interaction.  How do you know the people that have followed given a damn about your brand, product or service?  I have always argued it’s better to have 10 engaged and motivated followers than 100 people who have no genuine idea who you are or what you do.

With regards to the latter, without a plan you have no hope of achieving anything.  Encouraging people to interact with you takes time and/or money – and yes, it can take a lot of both.  You need to stop, think about your strategy, your audience, your goals and put the plan in to action.  If you do that, it really can work.

Case Study: Social Media and processes

The client

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

Right up our street!

The problem

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

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

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

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

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

What Time Saving Heroes did

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Davide had to say

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Three types of people you should avoid on LinkedIn

So far this week I have done one-to-one LinkedIn Orientation with five people. OK, so that’s just a fancy way of saying I spent two hours going over the basics with five separate people who signed up, created a profile and promptly lost their password. One of them hadn’t been back on since uploading their profile photo, and that was ten years ago.

This is probably my favourite part of the “training” I do with people – taking someone who admits they know nothing, or have preconceived ideas about what LinkedIn is, and getting them to embrace it. Admittedly it’s baby steps, going from “member” to “daily interactor” doesn’t happen overnight, but you get my point.

One thing that often comes up, certainly with people who have had their accounts for a while is connections. Often I hear things like “who is this person? I don’t know them” or “why do strangers keep asking me to connect?” Equally typical is the query “why add me and then never communicate?”

The simple truth is LinkedIn is full of people who aren’t using it properly, and unfortunately when you aren’t confident in what you’re doing, you can find yourself looking to these people as the “experts”.

Here’s my list of three types of LinkedIn users you should probably try to avoid if you want to attain LinkedIn zen.

#1 The Door to Door Salesperson

We have all received an invitation to connect with someone we don’t know, only to receive a generic sales pitch via InMail the second you accept them.

If you have accepted someone who does this, do yourself a favour now, and remove them as a contact. They are not interested in two-way dialogue and relationship building. They just want to knock on your door and sell you something, then they will move on.

Equally, if you are this person please, on behalf of everyone else on LinkedIn, I beg you to STOP! Here’s why.

 

# 2 The Social Police

Every so often I see comments, on other people’s posts, about the validity and appropriateness of what they’re sharing.

“This is LinkedIn, not Facebook”

“This sort of thing doesn’t belong here”

“LinkedIn is a professional network – be PROFESSIONAL”

You get my point.

The sort of posts that get these comments are either family or pet photos, memes, or jokes to name a few. Now, don’t get me wrong, when I see these things I do invariably roll my eyes because, in all honesty, LinkedIn is not the place for them. However, I refrain from commenting on such posts because I am not the police of social interactions.

What annoys me more than inappropriate posts are the comments from the self-appointed social police. Their opinion of what is or isn’t appropriate on LinkedIn is just that – their opinion. There is no handbook that says “Thou shalt not post a meme of a cat wearing a watermelon as a helmet”. There is no LinkedIn code of conduct in that sense. I am a firm believer that if you don’t like it, you just don’t interact with it; or maybe, you can remove the offender as a connection. Believe it or not, you do have those options.

Personally I recommend avoiding the social interaction police at all costs. It takes a certain type of person to comment publicly on someone else’s post in a manner that comes across as nothing short of rude, and in some cases bullying. Who, if they genuinely wanted to educate and help their fellow connections, would rather hit out, instead of send a private InMail along the lines of “Hi Bob, funny meme earlier; however, LinkedIn really isn’t the sort of place for that sort of thing. You’d probably get more interaction if you …”

But hey, that’s just my opinion.

# 3 The Ego

We have all seen them, the LinkedIn users who have a headline along the lines of “MOST VIEWED LINKEDIN USER” or “The Midas of sales: Everything I touch turns to sold!”

No, really, I’ve seen the latter. I’m still cringing now.

There is a really fine line between confidence, and an overwhelming smugness, and the people who go too far are really difficult to build relationships with on LinkedIn. Which is why I always avoid them.

It’s such a shame really as you can guarantee in a genuine networking environment they wouldn’t stand up and say “I am awesome, I am great, I am perfect”. Well, some might, but very few. In the real world they may exude confidence, but they are probably capable of having a two-way conversation.

Online they are just narcissistic and are predominantly interested in either the sale (see point 1) or collecting numbers. Don’t be one of their numbers.

 

 

These are just the people I will always avoid, you may agree – you may not. However, the key here is that you do have a choice who you interact with online, as you do anywhere else. Don’t feel you have to accept everyone, and don’t feel once you have accepted that you can’t back out again. Keep the connections you want so you can customise your own LinkedIn experience.

A picture is actually worth 84.1 words

We all know that a picture is worth 1,000 words. Or at least we all thought we knew that. The reality is it seems, according to extensive research, it’s more likely to equate to 84.1 words. But that’s a bit of a mouthful, and why mess with a good thing?

The truth is, regardless of the precise numbers, pictures help convey information quickly and easily.  Facts and figures are easier to digest if you have a nice little picture to get a point across, instead of having to wade through copious amounts of text.

This is where the infographic really comes in to its own.  If you want to get across the main features and benefits of a particular product or service you could write a 500 word blog or you could produce an infographic.

If we’re going to be picky, we’d suggest you did both, and probably combine the too – tap in to every type of audience member.  But then, we would, wouldn’t we?

Whilst there is no doubt that infographics are cool, and a fantastic tool to add to your marketing mix, the problem is they can be time consuming to produce.  Even if you have the necessary design skills, or are prepared to pay to outsource the job to someone else, you still need to do the research to provide the relevant content.

This is where a Time Saving Hero comes in.

We will work with you to:

  • Identify your audience to ascertain who searches for the information you want to provide, establish what emotions you want to evoke in them and what you want them to do with the infographic once they’ve viewed it
  • We’ll help with relevant keyword research and then start to pull information, stats, figures and data from reputable sources

 

You can then transfer the content over to your design team, or we can liaise with them on your behalf.

It’s also worth noting that we can actually produce the design in-house ourselves, saving the need to involve anyone else if you prefer.

Give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk to find out more.

 

I don’t care how big it is, what can you do with it?

When we first speak to people about their social media, many of them are concerned with the number of people following them on their various channels. We’ve had clients embarrassed by their lowly 100 fans, and envious of a competitor boasting over 1,000.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again – when it comes to social media, size does not matter.

The same is true when it comes to things like LinkedIn and your other networking activities.

You will no doubt have noticed that when you get over 500 connections, LinkedIn stops specifying precisely how many you have.  As a result 500 becomes this wonderful number many aim for, because to have that 500+ next to their name makes them look impressive.

If you know that many people, you must be really well connected.

Apart from that’s not the case.

As I’ve already mentioned, I’m conducting a little experiment with LinkedIn at the moment, and part of that means I’m just accepting invites from anyone.

A quick scroll through my last 20 connections (added over the last five days) and I find:

  • 1 person I’ve met once at a networking event
  • 2 people I’ve heard of, have mutual connections with, but have never had a conversation with
  • 13 complete randoms that haven’t even taken the time to start any communication beyond sending a request
  • 4 people I actually know (two of whom are previous clients)

I don’t think there’s anything particularly unusual about that, many of us if we take the time to look through our network will find numerous names we don’t recognise, and faces we can’t place.

That’s not a network.  That’s a directory. And it’s pretty useless.

The whole point of LinkedIn is to connect with people you know and trust.  Countless times I’ve asked a genuine connection for an introduction to someone else on their list, only for them to reply “I’ve no idea who they are”.  Great.

Well, plus side they just add people so at least I can introduce myself, but it’s still quite frustrating.

There’s whole swathes of the LinkedIn community that are out there collecting names and numbers, and then, for some inexplicable reason, doing absolutely bugger all with them!

Not only that, but the bigger the network, the harder it is to do anything meaningful with.  When you have over 500 contacts how do you begin to manage that?  How do you code people so you can immediately pin point your history, interactions, commonalities, their potential as a customer, supplier or collaborator?

You have no idea who most of them are – so explain again why size matters?

Everything is better when we stop and take the time to actually connect. I’m not saying for one second you have to delete everyone you can’t sell to (how egocentric is that?), but at least identify who these people are you’re now sharing your cyber space with.

The virtual world will be a better place for it.

 

 

 

Every small business should do this to gain new customers

Last month we wrote a blog about how being a small business can actually be an advantage when it comes to social media marketing, specifically when it comes to building relationships.  It seems to have resonated with a few people, so we thought we would follow up this week looking at another advantage – collaboration.

As a small business you are well placed to make strong connections with your local community.  This can include your consumers and potential clients, but also other businesses based within the area.  When that happens you open up the possibility of combining efforts and therefore potentially reducing your spend, whilst increasing your reach.

For example, I have a client who sells travel insurance.  Following a few meetings with a local spray tan company they struck up a fantastic deal whereby if you purchased a course of spray tans, you could obtain a discount on your travel insurance for your next holiday.

My client saw an increase in enquiries (which he was able to convert) without having to do any additional advertising himself. Equally, the offer went the other way so as one partner isn’t putting in all the effort.

It’s a very simple and effective way of getting more bang for your back – and it helps remind you, as a solopreneur that you’re not actually alone in this big bad world of business.

Larger businesses and corporations are unlikely to strike up such relationships, if for no other reason than there’s a lot more to consider and the legal department is likely to scrutinise any suggestions put forward.

Think about what you have to offer, and if anyone in the local area sells something that could enhance or compliment your product and service, and reach out to them.

The worst they can say is no.