Social Media: The Sidecar Analogy

Social Media: The Sidecar Analogy

Running a business is a journey more and more people are choosing to make. And if you’re reading this having taken or started that journey, you’ll know it’s not an easy journey to take, but it can be very enjoyable and rewarding. One thing running a business isn’t, is it isn’t like riding a bike. However, for the purpose of this article, I’d you to imagine that your business is a bike. A gorgeous, sexy, beast of a motorbike. All parts of the bike work in harmony with each other, including at least one passenger to drive it forward, so together the bike and rider can successfully navigate any bumps in the road they may face together. The tank is full, the engine is purring, so it’s visor down and let’s ride! Now I’d like you to picture, sitting alongside the motorbike, is a side car carrying as many passengers as it can (usually one, I know, but it’s your imagination so fill your boots). That side car is unable to move without a reliable motorbike to guide it. It has to compliment how the bike looks or it’ll appear ridiculous, possibly event mocked. This is how I see social media. In this analogy, the bike is the business. Each part working together, like the stands of a business (marketing, finance, operations, etc.), ensuring the progress of its journey. The side car (the social media aspect of a business) adds personality, compliments the bike, picks passengers up on the way and drops them off too. It isn’t attached to one part of the bike (e.g. solely to marketing) but...
The Best Sources for Free Stock Photos

The Best Sources for Free Stock Photos

A camera is a ‘save’ button for the mind’s eye. — Roger Kingston Images are an essential tool in bringing online content to life, whether it’s a blog or website. In this short video, from Digital Splash Media, the concept of the picture superiority effect is explained, making an overwhelming case for the value of images: Now we know the importance of adding images, we need to find the right ones. This, however, is a tougher challenge. Especially with many other businesses are trying to do the same thing. You want to find the right image to help your content stand out. So, here are some places you can visit to help you find the right image: 1. Take your own  — Sounds obvious, I know. But your own image will then be unique. No-one else would have taken the exact same photo and you won’t have to worry about asking for rights to use it (as long as it’s something you’re allowed to capture in the first place). 2. Unsplash.com — There are some really beautiful images here. The photo in this post, taken Felix Russell-Saw, was found on Unsplash. 3. Pixabay.com  — Over 1.4 million royalty stock photos and videos. 4. Pexels.com  —  If the first 3 options don’t work for you, then try this one too. 5. deathtothestockphoto.com  — Unlike Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels, this site gives you it’s photos in packs which you can download from the site or have emailed to you each month. 6. lifeofpix.com – Similar to Unsplash, with the added bonus of free videos too. 7. Google  —  If you have to, Google images is an option. BUT...
How to Get The Most From Facebook or Linkedin Groups

How to Get The Most From Facebook or Linkedin Groups

“Helping others is the way we help ourselves” – Oprah Winfrey When a new Business Park opened in Cambridge, the managing company of the site decided to host a “Meet the Neighbour” networking event, allowing residents of the park to see who is based around them and what they do. Come the evening of the event, it seemed like ¾ of attendees were based anywhere but the Business Park and were looking to meet residents in the hope of signing them up as customers. Now take a Facebook Group such as Freelance Heroes (obviously!) and you’ll be amazed how many people try to join it in the hope of signing up any of the 2000+ members as customers. Needless to say, those people aren’t allowed in. If you’re joining a Facebook Group, LinkedIn Group or forum, related to an industry type, geographical location, or other topic, follow these steps to get the most out of it. Read the Rules In each group there will most likely be a description from the person who set it up, detailing who the group is for and the nature of behaviour in the group. This will help you to integrate with existing members most effectively and show that you’re there for the same reasons as them. What if there’s no description? I’ll come back to that. * Learn From Existing Posts But reading what has been allowed in, and their respective comments, you’ll be able to see first-hand what works best in the group, ensuring your posts and comments compliment what’s there. Comment before Posting It’s not your job to tell other people...
How To Get More Life From One Blog Post

How To Get More Life From One Blog Post

“Creativity is making marvellous out of the discarded” – Unknown Creating content is one of the constant challenges for many businesses looking to implement their social media strategy.  And while sourcing fresh content is the right thing to do, it’s often worth looking back and seeing how previous blogs can be repurposed, both to continue to engage with the same message as well as reaching a new audience in a more social media savvy way. Let me show you an example. Here’s a post I wrote (relevant to this one too, I should add) “The Best Sources for Your Blog Writing Inspiration”. The reason for sharing this is so I can show you how to get the most out of this post. Here are some ideas: Create an audio version (Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a podcast). * There is an audience who like to learn while walking the dog, driving the car, etc. Recording an audible version of your post will get your message/thoughts out to them too. Create a video version * Using your webcam and a half-decent mic, you can talk your thoughts into a camera. Google loves video, as do some of your audience. Take a quote from your article and create an image from it. e.g. from my article above, I could use this:   Using these simple ideas, 3 blogs will give you of at least 12 pieces of content. And you can share old content again, so these can be used more than once. There’s more too (although these ideas require a little more effort): Use the basis of a blog to...
The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Hashtags

The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Hashtags

Friends don’t let friends #use #too #many #hashtags During my social media training courses and consultancies, I’m almost always asked the questions “what is a hashtag?” and “when should I use one?”, and the concept of hashtags is probably one of the more challenging lessons of anyone new user to twitter or instagram.  As succinctly as I can, here are the answers to those questions: What is a hashtag? Wikipedia says “A hashtag is a type of label or metadata tag used on social network and microblogging services which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content.” It’s a specific conversation topic. For example #MWL17 (Marketing Week Live), #BBCQT (BBC Question Time), #FACup, #UKBusinessLunch, etc. It’s a chance to offer a view on a particular topic and to be part of a conversation. What is it not? This (taken from an actual tweet)…  When should I use one? A hashtag is a specific conversation. It’s a group – be it 50 or 5000 people – talking about a particular topic, rather than just making a noise that can reach a wider number people. Note, I said “number of people”, not “audience”. There’s a big difference between the two. Once you’ve learnt this, here are some more practical steps for their use. Before you add a hashtag to your social media posts, use the search tools to understand how it’s currently being used. Ask youself why you are using it? If it’s only because you want your tweet to be seen by more people, then is it worth it? One article I read on...
The Best Sources For Your Blog Writing Inspiration

The Best Sources For Your Blog Writing Inspiration

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” – Benjamin Franklin.  Let’s kick this off by saying that this isn’t a post to convince you that you need to write a blog. If you Google “does my business need a blog?” there are over 280 million pages to cover that topic, while remembering that many businesses have grown successfully without one. I will post a few stats though: Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. (Source: DemandMetric) 69% of marketers say content is superior to direct mail and PR. (Source: Custom Content Council) The most common content marketing delivery mechanism is social media, used by 87% of marketers. (Source: CMI) The one thing that I will say for blogs at this point, is that they’re valuable content to help your social media goals as well as having SEO benefits. Back to this post though, which is designed to offer some suggestions about where your content ideas could come from. So, in no particular order, here goes: Inbound Customer Contact – What questions are your customers and prospects asking of you – through forms, phones calls, emails, tweets, etc? What do they want to know that could form the content of a blog post? Competitors – What are your competitors talking about and what angle could you write from, that is relevant to your audience? Social Media Search – Search for your keywords on twitter, Linkedin, etc. that could tell you what your target audience are talking about and asking of each other. Forums & Groups – For example,...