Friday, 24 February 2012

Are you socially awkward? Where do you fit in?

There was some discussion on twitter the other day about what platform should be used for what, in reference to small businesses.

There is no doubt that some mediums better serve either the business to consumer (b2c) or the business to business (b2b) organisations, but where does yours fit in?

For two and a half years, I have run my own b2c businesses through social media. I have used both Facebook and twitter to expand and grow my 'reach' and have found both are very different for my purposes.

On Facebook, it was a place to leave photos and messages, and whilst I communicated with customers, it would normally be a point of contact leading to an email or phone conversation.

On Twitter, I would build relationships with people, and make sales through the medium rather than over the phone or through email.

The question is, which do I think is better for my business?

The answer is neither.

The question should be, which is better for my customer?

Each medium attracts very different personality types.

Twitter is faster moving and should not be relied on for people to say 'oooo isn't your cupcake pretty?' But for people to say 'how much is your cupcake, and where can I buy one?'

Facebook allows people to digest the information placed in front of them. It is a place where you can pitch and let people have a think.

Both Facebook and twitter are vital for all businesses, as you want to be accessible to all people. Don't you?

If you would like any further help with your social media please don't hesitate to call me. 07907 824728

Thursday, 16 February 2012

My Top Tips for Running your Social Media.

I keep hearing from people that Social Media isn't working for them, that they're not getting enough business from it. So here are some of my top tips for making it work.

1. Listen

It's not all about you! On your personal profile on Facebook you are free to make it all about you. Rant, Rave, spill your guts and garnish as much sympathy as you want. 


Listen to what you customers want. That's what social media is all about, listening. Use it to gauge a reaction, ask opinions, tell people you follow you're sorry if they're having a bad day. 

Moaning about having to stay up late to work, or telling your clients things have gone wrong, is not going to make them want to buy off you!

I do use Twitter to vent sometimes, but I never rant about my work, it's professional suicide!

2. Use a photo of you.

Nothing puts a follower off like an Egg or a Question Mark. Even a logo isn't a great option. If you are an SME, you need to identify with your followers. Your photo should be representative and appropriate. We all want the best possible photo, but you need to make sure it looks like you. 

None of this looking flirtatiously into the camera from below rubbish either! Trying to look sexy whilst representing your business is not only a bit gross, but it also sends totally the wrong message. In this case, sex doesn't sell, and your prospective clients will subconsciously be turned off. Especially if when they meet you, you don't look anything like the photo!

3. Don't Snipe.

We all have fallings out with people at times, it's part of life. But criticising them and their business might make them look bad for a while, but in the end it just makes you look bitter and twisted. If you have a problem with someone, go and confront the situation. If you have made a small situation worse you may end up having to publicly apologise, and in a worse case scenario, you could be done for libel! 

4. Say 'Thank You'

If someone retweets or follows you, be polite, say thank you! It's an opportunity to build relationships, and people like to be thanked! 

5. To sell, Don't sell. 

If you think you're going to make money the second you sign up to Twitter or Facebook, you're wrong. Just as it does in real life, in Social Media it takes time to build relationships with people. I sell an awful lot through both those platforms when I try, but I've taken the time to build relationships and customer loyalty, and even then I don't always get sales. 

But, I do have a presence, and what I do best out of now is referrals. I've had so many referrals the last couple of months it's been fantastic, but that has come with 2 years of Tweeting. It takes time! I'm still shocked when people think about it!

6. Be Happy!

I kind of covered this before with number 1 a little bit, but basically be upbeat, even if you're saying a negative try and find a positive. Everyone has bad days, but try not to moan about them too much for example saying 

'Rubbish day, really fed up with it all, don't know how much longer I can take this. :-('

Is a HUGE turn off compared to 

'Rubbish day, but glad to be home, now, where's the wine?'

Can you feel the difference when you read them both?

7. Don't Lie.

Liars always get caught, and they can never regain the damage they've done to their reputation. Don't do it. #thatisall

8. Don't Spam!

Nothing is more irritating than your feed getting filled up with auto tweets. One every three to four hours is enough if you really have to do it, but seriously, you need to make sure they have a personal touch. Don't just use them to sell! Remember, it's about personality too!

9. Don't Auto Dm. 

Just don't. Or use Twit Validate, unless you want to turn people off straight away!

10. Don't swear.

In real life I swear like a sailor (probably because I was engaged to one once!) but on twitter, you'll very very rarely see me swear, it'll usually be 'bloody' and at a push 'shit' if the 'f' word is ever implied it's 'effing', never the word itself. 

Seeing those words written down make them seem a lot more harsh because they leave a longer imprint, visually. It cheapens your brand, and is against all the rules!

So there you go, some of my top tips! I hope they help you feel a bit more in control of your Social Media, thanks for reading! 


Monday, 13 February 2012

Love 4N

I belong to a business networking group called 4Networking. It's fantastic. If you haven't heard of it before, and you're in business, no matter what your company size you should check it out here.

4Networking uses the tagline Meet Like Know Trust. It operates on the principal that you wouldn't refer business to somebody you hadn't met, liked, got to know and therefore trusted. It's a very simple concept, but as most simple things are, it's spot on.

The MD is Brad Burton, Terry Cooper is another Director, and Stef Thomas is the Community Leader. One of the best things about these guys is that they're accessible. They're all incredibly busy, and have loads going on, but they all take the time to listen to their teams and the 4N members.

How do they do this? By using social media. I'm friends with all 3 on Facebook. I follow and am followed by all 3 on twitter. I even made Terry's birthday cakes last year.

I often draw a parallel between Social Media and 4N, to get something out of both you have to build relationships. You have to stop thinking what does this person have to give to me, but think how can I help them. You have to listen to them, and quite often what happens in both arenas, is you sell through them, if not to them.

I love 4N, I've been a member for 18 months, and in that time, I've had a tv programme, radio interviews, magazine articles, and newspaper articles. All through 4N.

4N has also provided me with some of the best friendships I've ever had. Perhaps that's because we are all in the same boat, we have a common interest, and we're all driven to make our respective businesses successes.

By intertwining 4N and Social Media, I've got the best out of both worlds, the two go hand in hand, because the same principles apply to both.

If you haven't already, go and check them out, come to a meeting (Chepstow is the best ;-) ) and see what you think. I guarantee you will love it as much as me....well, maybe not that much, but nearly!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Why Social Media, why me?

So, my venture into the social media consultancy world is fairly recent, actually, it's really recent, it came about because of a meeting I went to in cardiff called Make It Happen Monday, which was launched by 4Networking to help people like me running SME's get help and direction from other SME's.

Up until that point I had been running The Chepstow Cupcake Company, and Go Fudge Yourself, food based companies. During the meeting, you have to stand up and say what you think you're good at, and then in another round stand up and say what you think you need help with.

At the last meeting I didn't really know what to say I was good at. I mean, I can give you a fantastic buttercream recipe, but that's not really going to help your business expand now is it? Your waistline, yes, maybe, but not your business!

Anyway, between that meeting in December, and the next one in January, I was told the incredible pain in my neck was a ruptured disc, and the pain in my shoulder was Supraspinatus Tendonitis, and I needed to take 3 months off baking. 3 MONTHS!?!! I'm a single mother dependent entirely on my income! I can't take time off!!

Anyway, whilst pondering this, I went to another MIHM meeting in January. I stood up and explained that in my businesses I had successfully used Social Media to create brand awareness. Pretty much everyone at the meeting already knew of me from Facebook or Twitter, so they knew I was speaking the truth.

Much to my surprise I was voted an 'expert' which meant enough people wanted to hear what I had to say about Social Media. Well there you go, I had a fantastic group, who I shared a lot of knowledge tips and tricks with, and at the end of it, a few people asked if they could pay me to come and give them training sessions.


I of course said yes, and right there, right then a business was born! I've struggled a little bit since then with being branded an 'expert', I don't think of myself as that, I've learnt on the job and I was a little bit scared I wouldn't know what I was doing.

However, the people that I most respect in the industry, Peter Kay, Allan Blair Beaton, Dickie Armour, and Barry Watson, have welcomed me into the fold, and as Pete said:

So, if the experts have included me, does that make me an expert? Well, no, I don't think that's for me to decide, I think it's for me to prove. Other people will decide that, so I decided to as the experts here's what they said:

'Social Media is too broad, too many disciplines, too many components. No one can be an expert of it all.' - Pete

Allan pretty much said the same thing independently

it's impossible to be an expert. You can only be a participant in what's going on.'

'Agree with ABB. there are no experts. We're all learning together!'
- Dickie 

I love this thought process. Social Media is moving and developing too quickly for anyone to be an 'expert'. All I can say, is I adore social media, it's a natural part of my day, and I rely on it completely to keep up with my friends and listen to and engage with my customers.

I hope I never do know it all, It would be boring then!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Embarrassing moment!

I made a Social Media boo boo. It's quite embarrassing really, I'm supposed to be the expert right? Well I'm also human (which is why I don't auto DM or tweet) and I can make mistakes too.

What happened is this: I was showing a client around LinkedIn, when I accidentally clicked the mouse whilst hovering over the send button. This resulted in me sending off endorsement requests to about 50 people, most of whom haven't even laid eyes on me!

I immediately posted a status apologising for sending the message and got a few messages asking why they should endorse me having never met me. I wrote back explaining and apologising. What happened next stunned me....

People who had never met me, had never used my services, probably didn't need my services, and probably hadn't even realised we were connected replied saying 'Yes, what would you like me to say? Can you post one back for me?'

I was pretty shocked, it would never occur to me to write a false testimonial for someone, and wouldn't ask them to write one for me.

How can you trust what these people say? That's why mediums such as Twitter, Facebook and now Google + are so important. Facebook gives your customers a platform to thank you in a visible way, so your customers can see. It allows you to engage with your customers, and ask their opinions as well as hear what they are saying. Google + can work in much the same way, as well as pushing up your SEO rankings at the same time. Twitter is fantastic for instant referrals, for building relationships with potential customers, as well as 'competitors'.

It's vital that we are all on these mediums, whatever business you are in. I keep hearing people trying to argue that Social Media doesn't apply to their business, but even if you don't think you can sell directly through Twitter or Facebook (and I have yet to find a business that can't), you can listen to what people are saying about your company, whether good or bad, and take action, thanking them, or rectifying the situation.

Because, after all, Social Media is all about listening. You can learn an awful lot if you just listen.

Thanks for listening to me!