5 reasons why it’s important to share your story

The past couple of years have been tough. The pandemic saw, and is still seeing, so many businesses struggling to keep going, and people having to be at home, so mental health issues have rocketed. Whether this applies to you or not, we are all struggling with one thing or another. But there aren’t many people who stand up and speak about their struggles.

I think it’s because of that age-old thing of ‘stiff upper lip’ – you just don’t talk about it. It could be that we are afraid of being judged, or afraid of rejection…or just simply feel ashamed.

However, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good story, be it personal, emotional, funny, or otherwise. I loved listening to my dad tell me stories of when he was a young soldier in World War II – he used to tell us more about the funny side when we were young, but as we grew up, we heard some of the harder side of his experiences. Telling a story helps our audience to put themselves in our shoes – it appeals to our emotions and our sense of empathy.

We all know about pitching our products and we can do that until we’re blue in the face, but your audience won’t really care unless you give them a good reason to listen. Placing your product at the centre of a story, showing them how it can benefit their lives, not only helps your audience understand more about your product, but it also gives you an extra layer of emotion that makes you stand out more on social media.

Social Media

Most of us are on our phones or devices the minute we wake up, checking messages, emails or just scrolling through posts. It’s often the first thing we do when we wake up and the last thing we do before we go to bed. For those of us in business, our social media account posts are carefully planned and crafted to appeal to our target audience. And even that can be daunting – we worry whether our posts are good enough – will they appeal to the right people? Will people think that they’re rubbish? We compare ourselves to others and fear and doubt can even creep in with our businesses.

We also tend to only share the good things, such as cheery pictures of nights out, a lovely meal, family time – all smiling, date night with our partners etc. etc. But we don’t share our back stories – the stories that make us, US!

This, along with everyone else, gives out a message that we are only allowed to share the good things; things that go well. Having said that, I have noticed that some people are starting to share some of the more private parts of their lives. Now, I’m not saying go out there and share every intimate detail of your life – not at all. But share things that can help your audience.

Share a problem that you’ve solved, share that you’re feeling crap today, or that you feel you’re not doing a good job on something. Sharing this kind of information makes you real…people can empathise – some will have had the same experience, and it can help to build more meaningful relationships.

Telling your story is showing the authentic you – an essential part of who you are.

5 reasons why we need storytelling

  • You CONNECT with your audience. You’ll find people who have been through the same thing or feel the same way. You’ll find those who totally get where you’re coming from and who you are. They will share their experiences with you and so it’s a way to start building trust with your audience. When you share your stories, it pushes you to step outside of your comfort zones and to reflect on where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.
  • Sharing your story defines your identity to your audience. Sharing your interests, be it political, emotional, funny, or serious issues, it shows you. You can also share your hobbies, as you may find others that have the same interests as you.
  • By sharing your own stories, you are helping others to have the space to share theirs. For example, if you share a particularly painful experience, such as miscarriage or mental illness, you’re letting others know that this is safe place to talk about it, that you understand and that there is space for healing. You’ll be helping others by telling your story.
  • Sharing a story also heightens the awareness of that subject. It might be something as simple as sharing your weight loss journey, or how you came back from an addiction or homelessness. These things are powerful, and if you can show how you overcame these issues, you are going to be helping someone who is still going through that same thing, and give them hope for their future. This also starts to create a community of likeminded people, who will feel less alone with their problems, and feel they have someone they can share with.
  • This can also be applied to business. Sharing a story of how a particular product helped you to overcome your problems. For example, if you sell weight loss products that you have used yourself and had success with, tell your story. If you have a product that has changed your life in some way, shout about it and how it helped. If you’ve used a business to provide a service that has seriously changed the way you do business, or has helped you get more clients, talk about it. If you provide that service and have testimonials that show that, share them as well as your story.   

Every single person in the world has a story to tell. It might be a personal story; it might be a business story. But if you get out there and tell it, you’ll be surprised at how much engagement you will get.

If you love stories, read one of my stories about how a business assignment to India changed my life. And if you’ve written a story about an aspect in your life, I’d love to hear about it.

How to increase engagement on social media

Social media engagement is the measurement of the likes, comments and shares your social media posts get. However, it’s not just about the numbers, it’s about how engaged your audience is with your posts, videos etc. It’s about quality, not quantity.

For example, let’s say you hold a big BBQ at your home and invited loads of people – some you know and some you don’t. They all turned up, but all just sat around silently. Nobody spoke to each other, nobody danced, no fun and games. If you were just looking at the numbers game, your BBQ would be a huge success…after all, shed loads of people came. But was it really a success? Did your guests enjoy themselves? Did they like the BBQ food? You don’t know if you don’t speak to them and ask.

Social media is the same – engagement with your audience is crucial to build a rapport, to develop relationships with your followers and potential customers. It helps you to build customer loyalty and trust.

How do you engage on social media?

It’s all about interacting with the people who like and follow you. It’s about building those relationships, getting to know them, and showing a genuine interest in them and their business/family or whatever they talk to you about.

  • When a person comments on your posts, ALWAYS reply.
  • If they ask a question, answer it, and go that extra mile to give them the information they need – and more.
  • Depending on your post or the question asked, you can answer jokingly and have a bit of backwards and forwards banter.
  • Thank people for commenting; if you get a new follow-on Instagram, DM to say thank you and introduce yourself and ask about the person who has followed you. The same applies for Facebook – send a private message to say thank you and interact with that person – even if it’s just saying hi and asking them how their day has been.
  • Try and avoid talking about your products or services in these first contact messages – just be friendly, show your personality and be genuinely interested in your new contact.

These points are basic, but they do work.

Grow your followers!

Grow your followers

So now, we need to look at how to grow your followers – the more followers you have, the more engagement you’re likely to get. But please, DON’T buy followers and don’t do ‘follow for follow’ or ‘like for like’. Only follow or like someone or their business, if you are genuinely interested in them, if you genuinely like their business or their page, or are interested in the content they put out.

  • Be consistent – I know, I bang on about this all the time, but it really is important. You don’t have to post every day, but post regularly so that your audience know when you look for content from you.
  • Create unique content – don’t just copy what other people do. You can use ideas from other peoples’ content but make it your own. You can use Canva to make posts – there is a free version, so you don’t have to pay to start on this site and it’s extremely useful, with lots of different templates to help you. It’s also super easy to use.
  • If you share someone else’s post, make sure you always credit them with it, so people know who created it.
  • Use a mixture of posts, such as quotes, gifs, memes, jokes, video, hints and tips, ‘how to’ posts, informational posts, educational posts – the list is endless.
  • You can also do ads for your business/products/services as a post but keep these to a minimum. Apply the 80/20 rule – 80% of posts to engage, entertain, educate, or inspire and 20% selling.
  • You can do paid ads to increase your followers, but you don’t have to do this.
  • Have a consistent look and feel to your page posts – this comes down to your brand – what do you want your posts to look like? How do you want people to feel? What colours do you use? A theme could be the look of your content, the type of content your share (funny, educational, inspiring) – this will largely depend on what you do. For example, if you’re a mindset coach, you might post inspirational quotes or tips to improve mindset, so this is worth spending some time thinking about what you want to portray to your audience.
  • Use images in your posts.
  • You can also collaborate with other businesses to help grow your followers. It’s best to collaborate with other businesses who have a similar audience to you but sell or promote different types of products or services. For example, if you are a hairdresser and you do hair for weddings, you could collaborate with a make-up artist who also does weddings – you can recommend each other when you get a booking. You can put links on each other’s social media pages and websites.
  • A collaboration could also include a contest or giveaway, a blog post promoting their products or a post on your social media pages…and vice versa.  
  • Set up a Facebook group. These are great for increasing social media engagement as they tend to be more social than pages as the members can post questions or comments at any time. It also means your customers can communicate with each other and get to know other like-minded people. It’s important that you are active in your group every day, several times a day – you need to keep an eye on things to make sure any disputes or differences of opinion don’t get out of hand…and moderate posts to avoid spam. And of course, engage with your group members by posting something of value every day.   

Measurement

As with everything, measurement is important. If you don’t measure what you do, how will you know if things have improved or if you are successful?

So, before you start any new engagement campaign, look at your insights on your various social media pages. Take a note of your followers, look at the type of posts that are popular. Then, when you embark on increasing your engagement, you’ll be able to see how you’ve done against what you did before. You’ll be able to see which posts people like and don’t like, what kind of posts get comments, which ones get shared, and which ones produce tumbleweed! 

Most of all, enjoy your social media – there’s a clue in the name! It’s about being sociable with others, engaging with them, building relationships, gaining trust, and making new friendships and business contacts, as well as new customers.

If you have any more tips, please let me know in the comments.

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Why consistency is key

Consistency is crucial to your business, as it helps establish awareness of your brand, builds trust with your audience, and helps deliver your products or services more efficiently.

Running your own business is hard work and I’m sure you’ve seen countless articles or webinars on how to be successful. But if you concentrate on the key element of consistency, across all the social media platforms you’re on and in your day-to-day processes, you’ll soon find your business gravitating towards success.

Know your brand!

I know from my own experience, that when you start in business, you pick the colours you like and the kind of image you want to convey to your target audience…then you get bored with it and go for a complete change. I’m not saying you shouldn’t make any changes, but if you are constantly changing your colours, images and fonts, it can make your brand appear unprofessional. A good, solid branding is what makes you stand out from the competition. If you look at any of the big brands, such as McDonald’s, they are highly consistent and instantly recognisable…because they rarely make big changes, if at all.  

Have a plan

Every business needs to have a plan. This keeps you on track and by following a plan of action, this helps not only keep you consistent, but also makes you focus on money so you can ensure your costs don’t rocket. If you’ve just started your business, this is even more important, so you don’t make costly decisions based on inconsistent actions.

Measurement

Measurement

No matter whether you’re a new business, or been going for a while, it takes time to see results. If you’re not consistent in your marketing, business processes, sales etc., you will see inconsistent results. For example, if you decide to pay for an ad, running it for just a couple of days is a waste of time and effort, but if you run it for a set period, you can measure much more easily whether the ad is working or not.   

Consistency in all its forms, but especially in the interactions you have with your clients, will help you build a loyal customer base, and your customers will get a great customer experience. This all comes down to the basics of knowing your target audience and understanding what they want from you and ensuring they get it. Being consistent means that your customer understands who you are, what your business stands for, what your business focusses on and how your products or services can help them.   

Three pillars of consistency!

The three pillars of consistency

The three pillars of consistency help you to focus on ensuring that your business has a sound base and is successful.

Accountability

If you are a small business, then it’s likely that the buck stops with you! You are totally accountable for everything that happens within your business, so it’s even more important to be consistent in everything you do.

  • Check your business goals and action plan regularly – adjust any goals that aren’t working.
  • Look at your products/services and regularly review to ensure they do what you say they do.
  • Look at your website and ensure that all the links work and that your copy is still relevant to your business and amend if you need to.
  • Look at your customer feedback – is there anything you can do to improve the service you give? Are all your products working for your customers? Do you have any complaints? If you do, try and address any problems and improve on your products/services.
  • Look at the communication you send out to customers – this might be a monthly newsletter. Is the content you’re putting out still relevant to your audience?

Relevancy

It’s really important to be consistent in your messaging. Your customers and potential customers rely on you for information about your products/services, things that make their lives easier.

It’s crucial that you stay the course and exercise patience. Things won’t happen immediately and it’s easy to be impatient and think that something isn’t working, but as with all things, whatever you decide to do with your business will take time. But if you’re consistent and keep plugging away, your brand will start to be in your target audience’s minds and your business will be successful.

Make sure your messaging is clear.

This might seem like an obvious point, but consistency with your messaging is key to a successful business. Wherever you advertise your business, be it on your logo, your flyers, your website, or your blog for example, you need to ensure that your overall message is the same. If your messaging is inconsistent, it will confuse your customers – they won’t be sure that what you’re selling is actually aimed at them.

As with everything in marketing, it’s about keeping things simple, clear and concise. Make your messaging memorable and use the same kind of wording, or ‘tone of voice’, so your audience recognise your style and know that it’s you – and more importantly, know that what you’re saying is meant for them.  

These pillars all help you to ensure consistency in your business. Consistency helps you create awareness of your business and brand, build trust and loyalty with your customers and deliver your products and services more efficiently. 

What does success look like?

What does success in your business look like to you? For some, it will be earning money, for some it will be the sense of achievement. We all start our businesses for different reasons, but our end goal is usually that we have a successful business.

It’s important to know what success means to you and what it looks like and feels like. Then you can create your goals to achieve your end result.  You might have a three-year plan, a five-year plan, or even a ten-year plan – again we’re all different and it will all come down to the expectations we have of ourselves and how our business performs.

Success quotes

Look at the quotes above.

They each have a different take on success.

“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.” Richard Branson, a British entrepreneur and adventurer, has led a life full of ups and downs. He has always embraced his moments of success and struggle alike. He has always turned his failures into steppingstones for success. He’s done everything from record labels to airlines and he advocates that there is always a different or new opportunity… you just have to look for it. And he is proof that multiple income streams work!

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”  Henry David Thoreau was born and died in the 1800s. He was an American philosopher, essayist and poet. He believed that to live life to its fullest, people needed to simplify, get rid of unnecessary material possession and even unnecessary socialising. He also believed that if you are seeking success, you are likely to be romanticising the idea and not getting on with the hard, practical work necessary to achieve it.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer was a theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher and physician. He felt that peoples’ ideas of success were backwards. He saw that people struggled to achieve success in order to feel good about themselves, but the real joy and happiness is in the doing, not in the end goal. He felt that was where true happiness was.

Which of these quotes resonates most with you? I think that most of us would take a little from each. I believe that multiple income streams are the way forward; I also believe that you have to work hard to achieve what you want, and that success is useless if I’m not happy.

Expectations

As I said earlier, all of us business owners are different. We all come from different backgrounds, with different experiences in everything we’ve done, from education to life itself…and those experiences go a long way to shaping how we feel about success. For some, having a healthy bank account is the epitome of success, whilst for others, it might be as simple as having a work/life balance, so they get quality time with their families.  

What you expect from your business is linked to the way you view your achievements. For example, you might do something that other people find impressive, but you have such high expectations of yourself that you might feel disappointed.

Another example is that you may come from a family where your parents were very strict and expected a lot from you. This kind of upbringing can make people put heaps of pressure on themselves to succeed. High expectations of this kind can cause some people to see their achievements as nothing to be proud of and may see even the biggest achievement as mediocre.

On the other hand, someone who had parents who taught them to be proud of everything they achieve, no matter how small, would celebrate all achievements and be proud of everything they achieve.

Success is about liking what you do, loving your business, being proud of your achievements and loving how you organise your business to get that success. And, most importantly, liking yourself!

The following views of success can potentially open your eyes to the reasons WHY you’re starting a business.

Examples of success

Here are a few more examples of what you might define as success.

Happiness

So many people live their lives being unhappy, for whatever reason. But to some, being successful is being happy – not necessarily making loads of money, but enough to provide for their family. Doing a job you love will make you happy, and to some, that is enough.

Achieving a goal

When you start your business, you will have an end goal in site. You’ll also have lots of other business goals that you’ll set every year as part of your marketing strategy. Often, achieving your goals will mean success – you’ve achieved what you set out to do. Once you know and understand exactly what success looks like to you, you’ll be able to set goals that help you achieve that.

Love what you do and do what you love

There are so many people who work just because they must – they don’t enjoy their work – it’s just a means to an end…payday. And if you’re happy with that, that’s fine, but there are many for whom their job is not satisfying. And they might be spending more than 40 hours a week doing that job.

Having your own business and doing something that you love, will give you more job satisfaction. You’ll feel that you’re doing something you’re passionate about and because you’re doing what you love – you’ll love doing it. Starting your own business is no picnic – there are lots of things to consider and you won’t be an overnight success, but you’ll be working for you, putting money and satisfaction in your pocket, not someone else’s.

Work/Life balance

This is so important to all of us. Working hard, doing long hours can be the norm when you first start your business, but it’s absolutely crucial to have quality down time with your friends and family. If life is all work, work, work, you’ll eventually suffer from burnout. So, it’s important to try and strike the right balance between work and life. For some people, this is the crux of being successful…they have a business that is successful, AND they have time for family, friends, hobbies etc.

Making a difference

For some business owners, success is about being able to have the money to be able to make a difference to others. This can look different to different people. For example, one business might support an animal charity and make donations; another might sponsor a child’s education in a poorer country; to some it will be helping other businesses to be successful, by giving free information or coaching; some might support a charity or organisation that will make a difference to our world or climate. You get the idea!

For these business owners, the success is in seeing the difference or positive impact that they are making.

Conclusion

No matter what you do, or how you do it, success will be dependent on how you view it. It won’t be the same as your mate down the road. The great thing about us as humans is that we’re all unique, we all have our own freewill and can make our own choices for ourselves and our businesses.

I’ll ask the question I asked at the beginning…What does success in your business look like to you? Being successful might not be having your own business, you might enjoy working for a large corporation or small company. It’s important to be happy in what you do, so whatever you feel is best for you is the right thing to do.

Hard skills vs soft skills of a marketer

As someone who does all the marketing for my business, I know there are many skills that marketers need. There are hard skills, which are more the technical and analytical side, and soft skills, the more creative, collaborative side.

Marketing Skills

Hard skills

Let’s take a look at the hard skills first.

Analytics

Analytics is about finding your way around the large sets of data, to help you interpret your audience’s behaviour, look at the performance of campaigns and measure the ROI (return on yours or your customer’s investment).

When working with content creation and product marketing, it’s imperative to be able to measure what you do and whether it’s having the desired outcome and impact on your target audience. Marketers with excellent hard skills like this are very sought after in both corporate and retail companies, as well as the smaller businesses.

There are several tools you can use to measure data, such as google analytics, and if you are a social media manager, using the insights on the pages you manage is invaluable.

Content Strategy

Content Strategy

If you are into content creation, then content marketing and a strategy is a fundamental part of your job. Here are a few statistics that illustrate the importance of content creation and content marketing.

  • 47% of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content before engaging with brand.  Source
  • 84% of people expect brands to produce content. Source
  • 91% of B2B marketers say that they use content marketing in their strategies. Source

So, you can see that content creation is a very valued skill. Content isn’t just about making a few pretty images, it’s about the sales pitch or the caption that is written to go along with the images you curate. Some social media channels require a short and concise caption, whilst others, such as Instagram, can be longer and more detailed.

Content creation also includes things like blog posts, articles, eBooks, emails and other written materials. Effective writing skills are very sought after and not something that can be automated. It’s a very human skill and crucial if you are a marketer.

Social Media

Most businesses use social media platforms to advertise their products or services and to put their brand out there. Over the past 10 years, social media has transformed the way that people interact with brands online and also the way that marketers communicate with target audiences.

All social media platforms have measurement tools to help you get to know the audience that follows you, likes and comments on your posts and generally engages with your business and brand. A social media content strategy will include setting goals for your business, based on social media posts and campaigns.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

There are literally billions of people interacting online at any one time during the day or night. Most of us look first to the internet if we want to buy something and even look at reviews of products or services before we even press that ‘buy now’ button. But how do they find what they’re looking for? That’s where SEO comes in.

If you’re a marketer, you need to at least have a fundamental understanding of SEO, so you can be sure that your business, or your customers’ business, is found online. This includes keywords and phrases to help Google find your business, when someone types into the Google search bar.   

SEO doesn’t just apply to websites and social media, it’s also vital to ensure that anything you post is optimised for mobile users as well as desktop, tablet or iPad users. Most website hosts do this for you, but it’s always worth checking that your content looks good on a mobile as that’s where most people do their searches.

Technology

Technology

This is kind of linked to analytics, but what I’m getting at here is actual technology, such as the tools and platforms that you might use to promote your business or help you manage your business. For example, if you send out a regular email or newsletter, the General Data Protection Regulations, (GDPR) states that you must get customers to opt-in to your emails – you can’t send them anything without their express permission. And the easiest way to do this is by setting up your opt-in on a platform, such as Convertkit, MailChimp or Mailerlite, which are the three platforms I use for my clients. When you set up your subscription opt-in on these platforms, they automatically ask the right questions so you are compliant with GDPR – they also give your customers the option to unsubscribe to your newsletter or email via a button at the bottom of each email that goes out – which keeps you compliant with the rules and regulations.     

SOFT SKILLS

Soft skills are the more creative and collaborative side of marketing, probably the bit that most marketers love – well I do!

As well as creativity etc., soft skills also include many different attributes, such as honesty, leadership, a good work ethic, time management – skills that are very difficult to quantify.

Here are some of the top soft skills.

Creativity

Creativity

This includes bringing new ideas and interpretation to common problems, and how to solve them using the written word.

Flexibility

Marketing means you have to be flexible – there are always new tasks to take on and new responsibilities constantly pop up. Very often, what you started off doing a few months ago for a client, will look very different 6 months down the line. You have to constantly be on top of new ways of doing things and you often have to hit the ground running with new platforms etc.

Resourcefulness and Adaptability

A resourceful marketer uses all the tools available to her, to find the most appropriate one for each customer or business. It’s also important to be on top of the analytics to help make that informed decision.

Marketers have to learn as much as they can about target audiences, in order to be able to make decisions about the way to market a product or service. Intuition and adaptability plays a big part here and covers things like quick decision making, keeping calm under pressure or going against the norm to achieve success for your clients.

Adaptability also means that you’re able to change plans at the drop of a hat and tackle new challenges with determination and vigour.  

Collaboration

You might work for a small business or a large corporation on their marketing. Whichever it is for you, collaboration will be a big part of everything you do. You need to build good, strong relationships with your clients and with other people who work for that client or company too. For example, you might be asked to do email marketing or write a regular blog post, and your client may already have a social media manager. You will definitely need to collaborate so that the social media marketing takes into account the emails or blog posts you write – and that subject matter is consistent with the overall marketing plan or strategy. 

Leadership

Leadership

Leadership is the last point I’m going to cover, but a crucially important one. So, what is leadership? It’s about having the ability to keep a good group dynamic, be able to lead a team with compassion, and inspire your team with your business insights, experience and innovation.

It’s also about being able to assess situations and defuse anything that could get out of hand. A leader will usually drive any collaborations, adapt to new technology and lead the marketing strategy in the best way possible.

A leader will need to know the customer or target audience inside out. What they like, don’t like, making sure that everything that’s done or suggested has the customer at the heart of everything. Are their problems being solved? What makes them happy? What makes them tick?

Marketing is something that never goes away. No matter whether your business is small (or just you!), or whether you own a multi-million organisation, marketing is the key to getting your products and services in front of your target audience. It’s not something that you can wing and hope it works – it needs to be carefully planned, organised and executed with a sound strategy.

If you’d like help to build your marketing strategy, find out who your target audience is and how to reach them, but don’t know how, drop me a mail and I can help.

cindymobey@outlook.com

How Copyright protects your work

Copyright is what protects your work and prevents others from using it without your permission.

It is automatically applied to your work, so you don’t have to pay a fee or apply for a license.  Copyright is automatically applied when you create:

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustration work and photography
  • Original non-literary written work, such as software, web content and databases
  • Sound and music recordings
  • Film and television recordings
  • Broadcast
  • The layout of published editions of written, dramatic and musical works

You can put the copyright symbol on your work, alongside your name and the year, e.g. ©Cindy Mobey 2021. Even if you decide you don’t want to do this, or if you forget, it doesn’t affect the level of protection you have.

How long does copyright last?

It starts as soon as you’ve created your work and expiry date is anywhere between 50-70 years after creation, in some cases 50-70 years after the death of the creator. This depends on what you’re creating, be it music, literary, broadcast etc.

What happen if I breach copyright?

The one thing I always talk about to my clients is copyright. If you are writing a blog, or creating content online, for social media for example, you should NOT just use any image you see on Google. Most images on the internet are protected by copyright and you could face legal action and substantial fines if you are found out. I always say to use the free image sites, such as unsplash, pixabay or pexels. These images, in the majority of cases, come with a commercial license, so it’s OK for you to use them for commercial purposes – such as your blog or social media pages.

Breaching copyright is also very damaging to your reputation. If you’re a small business, we all know how important it is to be trustworthy and ethical. Being found in breach of copyright could seriously undermine the trust that customers put in your business. They may wonder if you’re honest in other aspects of your business. So, it’s really not worth the risk.

Copyright Policy

If you have a website, it’s a good idea to have a copyright policy. This policy just basically tells people that your work is your own and that they can’t copy it etc.

This will then protect you from anyone:

  • Copying your work
  • Putting your work on the internet
  • Performing or playing your work in public
  • Renting or lending copies of your work, (books for example)
  • Adapting your work for their own use
  • Distributing your work, or copies of your work, regardless of whether they distribute it for sale or free

It can be very tempting to just copy something or copy and paste that cute image you see, but it’s really just not worth it.

If you’d like to find out more about international copyright log into the IPO Information Centre – information@ipo.gov.uk

How to use Facebook for business

Facebook is a great place to showcase and market your small business. It is totally free to set up a business Facebook account – you just have to have a personal account first, in order to be able to set it up.

I’m not going to go into the setting up of the actual page in this post, but if you need help with this, there is a great, step by step tutorial by Facebook that is really useful.

If you want your business to really blossom on social media, then Facebook is an excellent place to do just that. It’s a great place to market your business and, according to Facebook,”creating a Facebook page allows more than 2 billion people on Facebook to discover your business – think of your page as a digital shopfront.”

What do I post about?

With Facebook, you can create many different types of posts. Each different type of post has its benefits and can engage your audience in different ways. I always suggest that people use the 80/20 rule. That is to say, 80% posts that are engaging, entertaining, educate or inspire your audience, and 20% sales. Your audience don’t want to just be sold to all the time – they want to engage with you and your business and this also helps your brand. Your social media strategy should include all of these types of posts. Let’s look a bit deeper…

Facebook Text Post

A text post is exactly what it says on the tin – just straight forward text only…just words, no photos, no videos, and no links.

Although this type of post is direct, I wouldn’t say this was great for business – especially if your strategy is to drive traffic to your website or directly speak to your audience to get them to buy or engage with you and your brand. But text posts can be good to share opening hours or availability, but be aware that the Facebook algorithm doesn’t really like text only, so your reach may not be good.

Photo post

Generally, photo posts see a higher engagement than text posts. You can use photos, illustrations or infographics to catch your customers’ eye, so you need to think about the images you use. There are lots of free image sites out there where you can source photos – PLEASE don’t use google images and just copy and paste. Most of the images on google are not royalty free and you could get into trouble with copyright issues.  I use pixabay.com or unsplash.com – these are free sites and when you pick an image, it tells you that the image is free for commercial use, which means you can use it for social media or on your website. Of course, you can choose to also take your own photos – especially good if you sell products.

Photo posts are great for product-based businesses, as you can really show off your products and you can show behind the scenes shots – anything really that will engage your audience.

Video post

Videos have even higher engagement rates than photo posts. You can do short and sweet video announcements or you can do longer videos to explain something, or to do a ‘how to’ post.

Video automatically plays in your feed, so you’re guaranteed to catch your audience’s attention.   

Facebook Live

Facebook Live video is, as the name suggests, a video that you stream in real-time or ‘live’. This is really popular and a great way to show your authentic self and a fabulous way to connect with your audience. Some ideas you could use would be an introduction video so your audience get to know you better; you could do a Q&A post to let people know more about what you do or your products; you can do behind the scenes video or product demos…in fact anything you can think of.  

Link posts

A link post is exactly that – a post that shares a link (or URL) with your audience. This is great to share your website or blog site. You just copy and paste the URL of your website/blog post and paste it into a Facebook post. The link automatically shows your audience a preview of the site with an image from that site.

You can also share links to other sites – interesting articles or links to events that you might want to share. Just make sure that you add some of your own wording before you click ‘publish’, so it’s personal to you and speaks directly to your target audience.

Stories

If you’re on Instagram, you’ll know that you can publish stories on that platform. But Facebook stories are also a great way to get the attention of your followers. Just like Instagram, Facebook stories are photo based, or short video posts. The photos appear for five seconds and videos can be up to 20 seconds long. Like Instagram, they disappear after 24 hours. It’s a good way to give a quick sneaky peek at something you’re about to launch, or use it for intrigue for a competition or contest.

Pinned post

You can ‘pin’ any regular post – pinning a post means that it will always stay at the top of your page feed, so it will always be the first thing that people see when they visit your page.

Once you have created the post, simply click on the three dots to the right of your post – you’ll see the option to ‘pin post’. Once pinned, the post will say ‘pinned post’ above it. You can change it whenever you like. It’s good for giving important information or instructions to your audience…or as a temporary announcement.

Facebook Watch Party

You can use this feature to screen a public video on Facebook in real time, so you and your followers can experience it together. It’s a great way to create a buzz for a new product launch – and this is often used to launch a music video.

You can promote your watch party by creating an event.

Create event

If you do events, for example if you are a musician and you’re playing in a local bar, you can set up an event to advertise it. Not only a great way to advertise, you can also invite people to your event, you can add photos and information so people know exactly where and when the event is…and what they will get.

Other options

You can also post job listings, special offers and you can even use the option to raise money for a charity.

Marketing your business on Facebook

Now you know how you can post on Facebook and the different ways to post, how do you actually market your business? I talked earlier about the 80/20 rule; 80% engaging, entertaining, educating or inspiring your audience and 20% selling your products.

It’s best to plan your content strategy, so you know what you are going to post and when. There are loads of different types of posts that will do all these things.

Engagement – you can engage with your audience by asking questions, or you could give them information about your products/services without doing the hard sell. Talk about the features or benefits of your products/services – what’s in it for your potential customers? What does your product or service do for them? How can it help solve their problems?

Entertaining – these posts could be something funny or interesting to share.

Education – ‘How to’ posts or teaching your audience something about your business or products/services.

Inspiring – this could be in the form of inspirational quotes, or you could include a link to an inspirational article that you like – or one linked to your particular type of business.

The final type of course, is selling – this would include images of your products, advertising what you sell or what your services are.

In a previous blog, I talk about the different types of posts you could incorporate into your content strategy – click here to find out more.   

How do potential customers find your page?

This is all about you engaging with your target market. You need to know who your ideal client is and what they like. Join groups on Facebook, via your personal page – there are several that are set up for Facebook to specifically help you engage with like-minded businesses and your target audience. For example, Hike Those Likes Market Place is a friendly group where you can meet other small businesses. They have regular, daily engagement sessions that you can join and leave a link to your business. Other people follow you if they like your business. Once they follow you, every time you post, it will appear on their timeline – and so everyone who has liked their page will also see your post.

You can use the search bar to search for your target audience and engage with their pages. Once you have followed them, you will see their posts. Comment on their posts – a pointer here is to be totally genuine – don’t just comment for the sake of it, but only if you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Facebook ads

You can also create an advertisement for your business on Facebook. This is all about getting your message in front of your target audience – those that are most likely to want what you sell or provide. There are different types of Facebook ads and targeting options. To find out more about ads, Hootsuite have a great guide.  

And finally, measurement

How do you measure whether or not your posts are successful? You can find this out by using Facebook analytics or Insights.

Facebook Insights will let you know which types of posts work best for your business. It measures things such as:

  • likes/follows
  • reach – how many people saw your post
  • engagement – how many people liked, clicked, shared or commented on your posts

It also tells you which posts result in people who ‘unlike’ your page.

Conclusion

Facebook is a great platform for small businesses and if you put in some time to understand how it works…and more importantly, what works best in terms of post type and frequency etc., you really can take your business to the next level.

If you need help with your Facebook business page, please feel free to contact me.

cindymobey@outlook.com

Earth Hour 27 March 2021

The first Earth Hour was started by WWF, as a symbolic lights-out event in Sydney in 2007, but has since become one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment. Held every year on the last Saturday of March, millions of people worldwide turn their lights off to show support for our planet.  

Although Earth Hour is technically only one hour a year, it has become a lasting catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes. This is a very rare event that encourages every single person on the planet to participate. Only by working together, are we going to save the beautiful planet we live on.

For 2021, with the current Covid restrictions, instead of meeting in a public place, people will be participating in Earth Hour online. They are asking you to share a video link on your social media pages and take photos of you and your family switching off all of the lights and electronics in your home at 8.30pm (your local time), on Saturday 27 March.

Take part tonight – Click here to see the video link that you can share

Why support Earth Hour?

Nature underpins everything around us, from the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe, to our very livelihoods and quality of life. Nature is crucial for all our futures and helps against the current climate crisis. The biodiversity of our planet is under threat and we can do something about it…

What is biodiversity, why is it under threat and why does it matter?

According to worldwildlife.org

“Diversity is all the different kinds of life you’ll find in one area—the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter.

But as humans put increasing pressure on the planet, using and consuming more resources than ever before, we risk upsetting the balance of ecosystems and losing biodiversity. WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report found an average 60% decline in global populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians since 1970. The 2019 landmark, Global Assessment Report, by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services reported one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction – the highest number in human history. 

Three-quarters of the land-based environment and roughly 66% of the ocean environment have been significantly altered. More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production. Climate change worsens the impact of other stressors on nature and our wellbeing. Humans have overfished the oceans, cleared forests, polluted our water sources, and created a climate crisis. These actions are impacting biodiversity around the world, from the most remote locales to our own backyards.”

WWF also tell us that one of the most wonderful things about biodiversity is its resilience. If we “ease up on the pressure, manage resources well, give it time, and the ecosystem will adapt. Nature and biodiversity will recover.” 

What can you do to support this event?

2021 is an important year for change. World leaders will be coming together in key global conferences to set the environmental agenda for the next decade and beyond. Decisions will be made around climate action, nature and sustainable development – this will directly affect the fate of humanity and our planet for years to come.

EARTH HOUR 2021 could help put nature in the spotlight and show world leaders and other decision makers around the world that nature matter and urgent action must be taken to reverse nature loss.

So, as a reminder, switch your lights off for an hour – you can light candles and post your photos on social media of you and your family switching the lights off or sitting in candlelight to show your support.  

And don’t forget to share Earth Hour’s official video on your social media pages.

The pros and cons of Opt-In

We all get loads of spam in our email inboxes every day. I don’t know about you, but I find it really irritating when I get an email that I’m not expecting, especially if it’s someone trying to sell me something…or cold calling. But, if I am interested in a business and want to receive emails from them, I like to be able to request that myself. This process of filling in a form to say you want to subscribe to an email list is called Opt-In.

The legal stuff

Opt-In is regulated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK and the CNIL in France in the form of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations).

Regulations state that the consent process must be ‘specific, granular, clear, prominent, opted-in, documented and easily withdrawn’. So, all consent options need to follow these specific requirements in order to be compliant with the GDPR rules.

Any consent processes on your website need to be separated from other terms and conditions. This is known as being unbundles. This is the way to make it clearer and more prominent in what you’re asking of any individuals, without them being confused by other information.

Opt-In forms are usually on websites in the form of a pop-up or as separate page that you point your potential customers to.

If a person opts-in to your email list or freebie, they complete a form. This gives their permission for you to send them emails. The only other real requirement is that when emails go out to customers, there must be an option somewhere on the email for them to unsubscribe at any time, with no repercussions.

What are the pros of having an opt-in?

  • Opt-ins help you grow your email list quickly. You can choose from setting up a single opt-in or a double opt-in*
  • When someone opts-in to your email, it gives you the opportunity to predict the kind of content that a particular customer wants from you
  • If you just send a random email, the open rate is virtually nil, but if a customer has agreed to receive emails through the opt-in form, you will get very high open rates on your sent emails.
  • If a customer, or group of customers buy a specific kind of product or service from you, you can segment those customers into a group. This gives you the opportunity to up-sell or cross-sell other products or services that you think they might be interested in.
  • You can also automate your email service, using platforms such as MailChimp or Convertkit. Using these platforms you can ensure that when someone completes your opt-in form, they get an automatic welcome email. Then you can automate further emails in a sequence to let them know about your other products or services and their benefits and features. You can also use these platforms to set up and automate regular email newsletters or promotions.
  • Opt-in also saves you time and effort once the automation is set up – you’ll be interacting with your target audience and current customers on a regular basis, with little or no work.    

*Single opt-in versus double opt-in

A single opt-in, as the name suggests, is a one-step process. A person simply needs to enter their email address once in the sign up box on your website and they immediately become a subscriber.

A double opt-in is a two-step process. When a person enters their email into the sign up box, they will receive a confirmation email that they must click on to confirm being added to your email list.

The single opt-in is easier for your subscriber as they only have to do one thing – enter their email address and they are subscribed, so you are guaranteed subscribers immediately. So, it builds your list quicker than the double opt-in. But it has been found that more subscribers tend to unsubscribe with single opt-in, once they get what they want.

Double opt-in means that the subscriber has to go into their email and press confirm in order to get what they want. This has the disadvantage of getting lost in the hundreds of emails received every day, unless the person subscribing goes straight in and does it immediately. So, it doesn’t grow your email list quite so quickly. The double opt-in generally means that once the confirmation has been completed, it’s given the subscriber time to think about it and they are more likely to be genuine subscribers who are genuinely interested in your products or services. And you’re more likely to have a higher open rate of subsequent emails with the double opt-in. The double opt-in also leaves less room for error as it will be obvious if the person has entered an incorrect or spammy email address, so the leads are more solid.

The cons of having an opt-in

  • Your first email will most likely be opened as the customer is likely to be getting something, but subsequent emails might be considered junk emails…and they just won’t be opened or the recipient will mark them as spam
  • If you leave too long between the first automated email and the next one, your recipient can forget what they signed up to, so it’s important to do a small email sequence and ask them to add you to their contacts list to avoid this happening
  • If you already have a list of contacts and are adding to that list with new subscribers, then you or your admin team send an email out of the blue, it could cause subscribers to unsubscribe. It’s important to let them know exactly what to expect up front.  

Most email lists are grown using the opt-in method. Usually subscribers sign up for your regular email or newsletter in return for a free checklist, product or other freebie. This is usually advertised via a landing page on your website, on social media or hosted on a platform such as MailChimp or Convertkit.

If you need any help in setting up a landing page to help grow your small business, please feel free to email me. I can help you set this, and the email sequence up for you… cindymobey@outlook.com

The Benefits of using Google My Business

In general, people across the world are relying more and more on Google to find answers to their questions, or to find out information about absolutely anything. Google My Business (GMB), is a free online tool for businesses to manage their online presence across the Google platform. This is especially good news for small businesses and start-ups to help them with their online visibility.

According to searchengineland.com more than 2 trillion users log onto Google search every year – more than 5 billion searches per day. That’s pretty mind-blowing in itself, but just think how many people your small business could be exposed to, simply by having the right keywords and being on Google My Business. Wow!

How to claim your Google My Business profile

You need to have a Google account (Gmail account), in order to be able to claim your Google My Business profile. If you sign into your Gmail account, then log into GMB, simply enter the name of your business into the field of the form and confirm that you are authorised to manage the business. There will then be several fields to complete in order to set up your account, such as your opening hours, about you section etc.

You have to choose a service category too, from the list provided and it’s important to make sure that your business name, address and phone number is up to date –if your business is on other search engines, such as Bing, you need to make sure that they are all have exactly the same details, so it’s easier for you to be found. By putting in your address, a map will pop up so anyone local to you will be able to easily find you. You can also add a link to your website.  

There is an area to add photos of your business – both external view, which is great if you have physical premises as it makes it again, much easier for people to know what they’re looking for if they decide to visit your business. You can also add photos of the interior, so you could add photos of employees, processes you carry out, and photos of your products. This is really important to make these as engaging as possible as it will encourage people to choose you over your competitors.

One of THE most important parts of GMB is the reviews section. Online reviews are obviously testimonials that you are the best at what you do. Encourage your existing customers to leave a review on your GMB page, by sending them a link to the page and ask them! Most will be happy to oblige. If you have an email list, or send out a regular email newsletter to your customers, this is a great item to add to that … and the reviews will really help your Google rankings. As all small businesses will know, good reviews are absolute gold in helping potential customers to choose to buy from you over your competitors. When I want to buy something, I always look at the reviews first.

Put the link to your GMB on your website and on your social media pages, so potential customers and existing customers know that you’re there.

GMB is cost-effective

Well, it’s free (!), so why wouldn’t you want to have it? For start-ups and small businesses, it really is a fabulous platform to get your business out there with no cost – we all know that every penny counts if you’ve just started, or if you’re a small business. GMB gives customers all the information they need to know about you, all in one place…but if you put a link to your website or to your Etsy shop, for example, you can also point them to your other resources, products or services.

You can post to your GMB

Just like social media platforms, you can also put posts on your GMB page. You can use this to promote your business, talk about offers or discounts, new products, updates, news, announcements etc. The possibilities are endless! I use my posts to highlight new blog posts, as well as news about my business or about marketing. I also share some of the posts I use on Instagram and Facebook.

Your post title should only use four or five words, and although you are allowed to use up to 1500 characters for the post, I always keep it to as few as I can – 100-200 at most. The reason for this is that under the post there is the option to use a Call to Action (CTA), which encourages your visitors to take a particular action, such as ‘Buy’, ‘Book online’, ‘Learn more’, ‘Call’ or ‘Visit’. For my blog, I use ‘Learn more’ and then a box appears so I can put in the URL of my blog post, so if visitors want to find out more about the blog I’ve written, they click on the URL box and it takes them to my full blog post and website.

Posts only stay in front of your customers for seven days, so you do need to update your posts regularly. If a customer clicks on posts, they will be able to see old ones, but they won’t be ‘live’ on the homepage of your page.

You can post an event, and this is the only exception to the rule of seven days. Once you input all the relevant details of the event, it will be displayed until the event is over.

A fairly new feature, which is good news for restaurants or cafes, is that GMB now has a menu editor, which includes titles, descriptions, prices, and you can break the menu into sections – starters, main, desserts etc.

Video

You can share video on GMB, and this is a fairly new feature. The video should be no more than 30 seconds and once uploaded, it can take up to 24 hours before the video content shows in local search results.

The maximum video file size is 100MB and minimum resolution should be 720p. 

Messaging feature

There is a message feature on GMB, which you have to switch on via your dashboard on your page. This means that customers can message you directly. There will be a message icon which they can click on to send a message and if you have an iOS device you can get these directly via an app. Otherwise, you will need to make sure you check your GMB page regularly. Please not that Google advise that you don’t encourage customers to share sensitive information via their messaging service. 

Conclusion

Google My Business (GMB), is a fabulous, free platform for you to advertise your business. The many features make it easy for your customers to find you and find out all they need to know about your business. It’s up to you to add as much or as little information about your business that you choose to. As with any platform, it’s a good idea to have a strategy around using the platform, factor in time to keep it up to date and keep track of any messages and changes that might affect your business or that platform. But, in today’s online world, where billions of people are searching Google every day, it totally makes sense to make use of this great tool.