Look before you leap into the world of social media

social media crayons photoAs a freelance writer and marketing bod, I get asked these questions on a regular basis:

“Should I be on LinkedIn?”

“Isn’t Twitter just for teenagers and celebrities?”

“I don’t get Facebook, can you explain to me?”

What is really behind all of these questions and many more like them is the deep-rooted fear of not belonging. We all want to be liked, we all want to be acknowledged and having a consistent social media presence gives us the sense that people must like us. Business owners see their competitors on social media and worry that they’re behind the times by not following the crowd. Where followers, likes and pluses start, customers follow (just not instantly!). This sends some business owners into a panicky state and can lead to some pretty embarrassing mistakes on social media.

So, if your business isn’t on any social media networks yet, take a big breath, take a step back from the judgmental looks of the virtual schoolyard and ask yourself a bigger question,

“why does my business need to be on social media?” Continue reading

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How to avoid costly marketing mistakes

Let’s start with a fairytale

Once upon a time, there was a girl called Cinders. Cinders always worked hard and thought herself practically perfect in every way. One night, Cinders found herself surrounded by boxes and boxes of brochures. Earlier that day, very angry people had called her, Cinderella illustrationwanting to know why their information was all horribly wrong and what  was she going to do about it! Cinders did her very best to calm the angry people and set to work righting the mistake.

She toiled long into the night, adding a corrections sheet to every single copy of the 5000 brochures, wearing her manicure down and wiping away her tears of frustration.

Cinders learned a great lesson that night. Never again would she boast about being practically perfect in every way. She would always check her work properly.*

Meanwhile, in real life, Continue reading

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Seven ways to screw up a press release

Your business has some great news or an event you want to publicise. Whether or not you agree that the newspaper industry is dying, the public need for news is bigger than ever. With streaming sites and constant updates, websites need more news content than your local newspaper could ever contain in their daily or weekly edition. So, how best to get your company’s news into websites, newspapers and magazines? The press release (aka the media release or the news release if it’s feeling fancy (fair warning, I’m about to use all three terms as I like to keep you on your toes!)) still reigns no matter where the news will eventually be displayed.photo of newspaper stand

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How to make sure you reach your objectives in 2014

The festive season always seems to be a time for reflection and looking back on the highs and lows of the previous year. This year, I say to hell with reflection, let’s start planning!

photo of me looking forward

Looking forward to the new year (and more snow?)

Look forward to 2014 and make a New Year’s resolution for your business

Now, we all know that most resolutions don’t happen: go to the gym more, lose weight, socialise more, make more money, get more clients.

Why don’t these resolutions work? Continue reading

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Who are you and what do you do?

Hello my name is sticker

Business people of Great Britain – speak up!

In the last couple of months, I’ve been to a range of conferences and events where audience members were encouraged to participate and ask questions of the panel.

At the beginning of the sessions, everyone gets told the same thing, that if they have a question or comment to:

  • wait for the microphone
  • tell everyone your name and your business
  • ask your question or give your short comment.

Simple, right? At every event, just about everyone fell down on the second point and, as this has happened at every event I’ve been to, I’ve gotten more and more infuriated by it! Continue reading

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How your guts can save you time, money and your sanity

This is the year of listening to my gut! Growing up with a mum who’s got Crohns Disease and Colitis (and who’s worked tirelessly over the years to remove the stigma from those illnesses, yes, you’re fab, Mum!), I’ve been surrounded by discussions on guts for what feels like forever. But I’m not talking about biology now, I’m talking about something that feels so amorphous that you can’t always believe it exists. Your gut instincts.

Not sure about a prospective client? Going back and forth on whether to work with someone? The answer’s in you!

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Can’t keep up? 7 ways to simplify your Twitter feed and keep your Twitter rep golden

Twitter is a great tool for business.  You can make new connections, keep an eye out for jobs or projects, get some tips from specialists in your area.

Twitter can also make your life hell!  The constant feed of news, useful and inane, pesky Direct Messages, spammers – all of these mean time wasted for you and your business.  This post started life as ‘Why I won’t follow you back’ – the key to keeping up with Twitter is keeping a handle on who’s following you and who you want to follow as this is what affects your daily feed of information.  Here’s some simple tips on wrestling back control over Twitter:

1. You are not Lady Gaga, don’t try to be.

With over 20 million Followers, that’s a lot of ‘monsters’.  However, Lady Gaga is also following nearly 140,000 people – the mind boggles at what her daily feed looks like.  Twitter is not a popularity race for businesses – be selective about who you follow – other businesses will be looking at your list and judging your business on the quality of it (you know you do it too!).
Follow some well known specialists in your field but also search for the little guys:
- local businesses close to you;
- businesspeople you know in the real world;
- connect with global businesses in your field;
- move one step away from your field or the complete opposite of it and follow those people – knowledge and opportunities can arise from unexpected places.

2. Keep a close eye on your Followers.

Click on each Follower’s profile and view their tweets before you even think about clicking Follow back – that photo of a businesswoman could have a profile with a porn or spam website link – spammers are getting smarter, don’t fall for their disguises.  Click on the little arrow next to the Follow button and you can either Block them or Report them for Spam.  Potential clients or partners don’t want to see a long list of these types of Followers in your profile – this is your business twitter feed, not pleasure!

3. Ignore the egg people.

Anyone with an egg for a profile picture or no tweets whatsoever – don’t Follow them back.  If they seem genuine in their profile description but clearly new to Twitter, give them some time to build up their profile and tweets and then decide if you want to Follow them back.

4. Utilise Justunfollow.

Justunfollow shows your inactive Followers as well as those people you’ve Followed but they’re just not Following you back.  You can Unfollow them through Justunfollow but there’s a daily limit so you might just want to have the list and your Twitter list open at the same time and directly Unfollow them on Twitter.

5. Avoid the TMI syndrome of social media.

If you really feel the need to tweet about what you had for breakfast/how your baby is/what the weather’s like, blah blah blah fishcakes, create a separate Social Twitter account.  Aside from keeping some work/life balance for yourself, this keeps your daily ramblings off everyone else’s feeds.

6. 80% information / 20% advertising.

Twitter for business use is definitely not about just selling your wares, it’s about building relationships.  Retweet interesting articles and other people’s tweets, breaking news in your industry and tips from other businesses.  Tweet about your own business when you’ve got a great special offer or some news about your business that others will find interesting (keep in mind your customer and their mindset of ‘What’s In It For Me’).  Self-promotion is not what Twitter for business is for and, overly used, will get you Unfollowed from a lot of people’s feeds (including mine!).

7. Get your profile right.

Good profile picture of you (not just a logo), interesting and complete profile description, not stuffed with Keywords.  Simple suggestions but very effective for keeping your Twitter reputation golden and making connections.

Alongside these tips on how to manage your daily feed, there are lots of systems out there to help you manage your own tweets – some people swear by Hootsuite, I like Buffer for its simplicity and ability to time tweets and analyse my Tweets.  Take a look at what’s out there and don’t be badgered into using the most popular app; use a system that helps you manage your time spent on Twitter (even if it’s just a simple calendar of when you want to tweet).

I hope these tips go some way to decluttering your own Twitter feed – let me know what’s worked for you!

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The Shy Girl’s Guide to kicking ass at presentations

Does the idea of presenting to an audience make you

image of conference audience

Does this fill you with dread?

  1. Sweaty?
  2. Shaky?
  3. Want to run away?
  4. Scared beyond words?

If you’re a naturally shy person, presenting to an audience will never be your first choice of ideal work task.  But, at some point in your career, you may well find yourself in front of a large audience, laptop in front of you, clicker in hand, panic in your eyes.

As a formerly shy person, I’m not going to tell you to ‘just get it over with’.  Instead, I’m going to give you some tried and tested tips for presenting to an audience that aim to calm the nerves and kick ass! Continue reading

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How not to win customers at trade shows

Trade shows, business shows, conventions, exhibitions.  Whatever you want to call them, hiring a stand at this kind of industry event can be a huge benefit to your company.

Over the years, I’ve attended many business shows, all laid on with the aim of gaining interest, customers, information or supporters.

photo of auto trade show

Why don't I get to go to this kind of trade show?

I’ve also been on the other side of the regulation-size table and 8×10 space, handing out brochures, chatting to prospective customers and selling wares.  You can win or lose a key opportunity at these shows, not by the size of your stand or how fancy your banners are, but how you present yourself, and your company, to the show attendees.

So, here’s my Top Ten of what not to do when you’re a stand-holder, see if any of them ring true for you. Continue reading

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Networking for shy girls – part one

Today, I was going to write about shyness and the freelancing world, but my Google-fu shows me that I’ve been beaten to it by Melissa Ek in an April article for Freelance Folder.

I used to be very shy and, over the years, I ‘faked it to make it’ to the point where I thought I wasn’t shy in any situation anymore.  But, embracing this new world of freelancing has brought my shyness back to the forefront of my mind – is this a club I feel I can join in?  Will the other freelancers like me?  Can I cold call anyone?  If I email a potential client instead of calling them, will they be more interested in hiring me?

I’ll be writing about presentation skills and conference tips soon. But, for now, I figured I’d add one ‘networking for the shy’ tip to Melissa’s terrific list – the coffee break. Continue reading

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