Your bio is the first thing visitors to your Instagram account will see. You have 150 characters to introduce yourself to your audience, let them know exactly what you do and how you can help them, and to engage them. It seems a bit overwhelming to try and so all this in just 150 words, but this blog post will help you…I’ve got your back!
You need to write a bio to create a good first impression and also to give your readers a reason to follow you, like and share your content…and ultimately convert them to customers.
What are the main elements of a good bio?
The main elements and objectives are:
Descriptive and keywords in your profile name
Tell your readers what they can expect from your page and what’s in it for them
Include a good call to action (CTA). This is basically telling your audience what you want them to do next
Include a link to your website or blog
Use line breaks and emojis, as this makes it much easier to read
Make sure your name field is optimised with your name and a searchable keyword. For example, my Instagram name field is ‘Cindy Marketing Consultant.’ It gives my name and what I do.
If you were a hairdresser, you could put your name and then ‘hairdresser’ or ‘hair salon.’
This helps with searches that people make.
Highlight your skills
Tell your audience what you do. Keep it concise and to the point. Depending on what you do, you can be creative with this, as well as saying what you do on the tin.
If you were a Social Media Manager, you might put something like..
Social Media Management Helping beauty, wellness and skincare businesses grow
Or if you do something specific in that field…
Social Media Management made easy
Videography & photography
Some people include where they are based.
Use relevant keywords
Some people also use keywords in their bio. It won’t necessarily improve your searchability on Instagram, as searches tend to concentrate on your name and username, but it can help you connect with your followers and helps you get across what you do.
Keywords could include your values and interests and those of your target audience, so you attract them into your feed.
If you were a business selling nutrition, for example, you could include keywords such as ‘wellness,’ ‘nutrition,’ ‘self-care’ etc. You get the idea.
Drive traffic to your website
Your Call to Action or CTA is what drives traffic from your Instagram bio to your website or blog, event page, YouTube channel or online store. You are telling people what to do next. As well as using your CTA to point your audience to your website or whatever, you can also tell them to DM you, like, share or you’re your post for later.
The downside with Instagram is that you can only have one link in your bio. However, with apps like Canva, or Later, you can turn your whole Instagram feed into a clickable landing page and drive traffic to everything, with just one link. It’s like having a website built into your profile that every post can be sent to – then your audience has the choice of which option to go to. These apps are free to use and can really help with engagement. You just put a note on your individual posts – for example, if you are posting about products you sell on your website, you can finish your post with ‘Link in bio,’ which encourages your audience to look at your bio and click on the link.
You can also add your email address, telephone number and the actual physical address of your business too. Your contact details don’t take up your character space, so that’s a bonus.
Once you have your Instagram bio set up, it’s worth asking some of your friends, family, and peers to have a look at it. A good bio will create a fabulous first impression and convince your audience to follow you and engage with your posts. So, you need to:
Tell who you are and what you do
Use keywords to target your ideal audience
Add a link to your website or blog
Complete the email and telephone fields so your audience have other ways to contact you
And, above all, show your personality. It’s worth spending time and effort into your bio to get it exactly right. The joy of your bio is that you can change it over time – make sure you review it every couple of months and make adjustments, checking your links work, so it’s always up to date and continually improving.
Messenger has changed drastically since it was first launched and there are lots of things you can do with it now, that you couldn’t at the start. For example, did you know that, although Facebook messenger is attached to Facebook, you don’t actually have to have a Facebook account to download and use it?
I’ve been looking at the different ways we can use messenger for our small businesses. Although I knew about most of the features, there are some that are new to me! Here are a few hints and tips…
Stay under the radar whilst working
Facebook must be one of the most common distractions to your daily work routine, especially if you work from home. But did you know that you don’t need to have Facebook open to access your messages via messenger?
Go to the website, messenger.com, sign in and there you have it! A phone-like messenger without the distractions of Facebook posts!
If you tap the four dots next to the typing field when you’re in a conversation, and then tap ‘reminders,’ you can schedule a time, activity, and location…and send a reminder to anyone you want to include.
Share your location
You can share where you are – your location – in a conversation. Whilst in a conversation, tap the four dots, then tap ‘location’ and hit ‘share live location.’ This is great if you’re meeting the person you’re talking to, and they don’t know the part of town you’re in.
You will need to let messenger have constant access to your location to do this, but you can switch it off at a later stage.
You can also mute notifications. So, if you’re part of a group chat and the constant ‘pinging’ of new messages gets too much for you, but you don’t want to leave the group entirely, you can just mute the group for certain periods of time…or indefinitely if it is really getting to you!
From your main chat screen, swipe left on the thread and tap the ‘bell’ icon. From here, you can mute notifications for set periods, such as 15 minutes, an hour, 24 hours or indefinitely.
Mark as unread
If you are the kind of person that can easily forget to reply to messages after you’ve read them, then the ‘mark as unread’ feature is just the thing.
Swipe from the right on a message and tap the three little lines, then tap the ‘mark as unread’ option. The thread will then show in bold, just like new messages that you haven’t yet read! It will also show a little blue blob as a reminder!
Leave a group
This is a good one – we all get copied into group messages by friends or family, which might be as simple as an invitation to a party. Then you have to suffer your phone ‘pinging’ for days, if not weeks afterwards, with various people having conversations about it.
Once you’ve replied to the message and finished with it, you can leave the group. Simply tap on the group name at the top of the conversation, scroll to the bottom and select ‘leave group.’ The group will be notified that you’ve left, but you can always put a message before you leave to say that you are going to!
Delete old threads
You can delete old conversations once you’ve finished with them, if you like things kept nice and tidy. Just swipe to the left on the message you want to delete and tap the ‘trash’ icon. All done!
Reply to a particular message in group chat
This is one that is really useful. I belong to several group chats for business and often someone posts a message and, by the time I’ve thought of an answer and go to reply, there’s a whole list of other people chatting and very often they’ve gone right off the original message.
If you use the ‘quote and reply’ function, this solves the problem. Simply press and hold the relevant message you want to reply to, then tap the little arrow to reply. The quoted message will then appear above your own reply, making it absolutely clear who and what you’re talking about!
Unsend a message
It can happen that you send a message to the wrong person. But, if you know what to do and act quickly, you can rectify the error before it’s seen. Press and hold the mistaken message, and so long as it was sent less than 10 minutes ago, you will be able to remove it. Trash it for everyone, click confirm and it will be gone. There will be a message to say ‘you removed a message’ but your recipient won’t be able to see what it was. BUT it must be done within 10 minutes, or you can’t change it.
Chat to other businesses
Messenger is great to message any business that has a Facebook presence. You don’t have to pick up the phone to make a hairdressing appointment and risk getting into long conversations. Simply search for the person or business you want and send a message.
You’ll be able to see when they’ve seen it and see when they reply. This saves so much time…and you don’t have to speak to anyone!
Find filtered messages
Messenger has a filter, so if a message comes in that isn’t from one of your contacts, or if a message looks a bit dodgy to Facebook, the messages get filtered into an ‘other’ inbox. This used to be really irritating as it was difficult to find, but now it’s much easier.
Hit the ‘people’ tab at the bottom of the messenger app, and tap on the ‘requests’ icon, which is a speech bubble with three dots in the top right corner. This will show messages you’ve received from random people – for me, usually men in the military, or someone trying to get me to sign up to a dating app (!) But, it does also sometimes put people who are legitimately trying to contact you into that box too, so it’s worth checking.
Pick a colour
This is one I didn’t know about! You have the option to pick a different colour for every conversation you have. Hit the conversation name to go into settings, then tap ‘colour.’ You’ll be able to pick from a range of colours for your chat, which will be seen by both you and whoever you are messaging.
As well as picking colours, you can also assign an emoji to your chat too. This will change the default ‘thumbs-up’ like button to the emoji you’ve picked.
If you want to manage your communications efficiently and have all your acquaintances in messenger, you can turn on ‘sync contacts.’ This is a way to find people who aren’t on Facebook, or who aren’t your friend, but use messenger with their phone number.
Hit the icon with your profile picture, then tap ‘people.’ Go to ‘upload contacts’ and click it ‘on.’ Messenger will then continuously scan your contacts list for new numbers and people to message.
Another one I didn’t know I could do in messenger! Yes, you can edit photos…just open an image that has been sent to you in a chat. Hit the pencil icon – then you can type word overlays, add emojis – have a look and give it a go.
This is really handy and protects your eyes. It reduces the glare from your screen when you’re typing in a low light. The settings change the background from bright colours to black and grey, whilst the pictures, messages and any buttons are still in full colour.
How do you do it? Tap your profile pic in the top left corner and access the settings menu. Then toggle the Dark Mode slider. Simple!
You can add stickers to your text – I love this and use it a lot. There are loads to choose from and you can download many different types of stickers and graphics. Just click on the smiley icon next to the text box and, under the stickers tab, hit the plus button at the bottom. Then you can choose which stickers you want to download and use.
You can create a poll in a chat, giving people multiple choice answers to your question. This is quite a new addition, so another one I hadn’t come across before! Just click on the dots symbol and select ‘polls.’ Then you can create your poll and create custom options.
It is possible to encrypt a chat. It’s not an automatic option because it disables some of the other chat options.
To encrypt a chat, tap the name of your chat partner at the top of the screen and scroll down to ‘secret conversation.’ Tap ‘ok’ and your conversation will become encrypted from start to finish. You can also set a time limit so that those encrypted messages disappear after a certain amount of time.
Make calls via Wi-Fi
This is the one I use the most. Messenger has a built-in video and voice calling ability. So long as you are connected to Wi-Fi, you get free messenger-to-messenger calls. It also doesn’t matter if one of you uses IOS and the other uses Android. This has been a godsend for me during lockdown to stay connected with my family…and all free of charge.
Not everyone likes to talk directly to their contacts, so there is also voice note. This means that you can leave a short voice message instead. It limits you to 1 minute, but you can send as many as you like! Tap on the plus symbol, select ‘voice,’ and hit the red ‘record’ button. Then record your message and send
Messenger has games!
When you do fancy a break, you can access games from messenger. If you’re chatting to someone and both want a little bit of light relief, just hit the plus symbol in the bottom left when you’re in a conversation and tap the ‘games’ icon. There are loads of them…from Snake to PAC-MAN to Tomb Runner…and all without having to leave the app. You can also get involved with group chats too and you can have a competition!
I really hope that you have found this useful and learned something new – I know I did when doing my research! Happy messaging!
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Every day the number of people going online increases, and the recent pandemic has seen a huge increase in online shopping. This means that offline marketing won’t be as effective as it was before.
Marketing is all about connecting with your target audience in the right place and at the right time and, in this current time, that means meeting them where you know they’ll be…. online!
So, it makes sense to market your business online – digital marketing.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing covers everything that uses an electronic device or the internet. Whether you’re a small or larger business, you can benefit from using digital channels, such as search engines, social media, email, and other websites to connect with your current and potential customers.
Digital marketing helps you to reach a huge audience, which you would not have access to using traditional methods. You can also target prospects who are most likely to buy your products or use your services. It’s also more cost effective that traditional methods, as you can measure your success daily and change things as you see fit.
What are the benefits of digital marketing?
There are lots of benefits to using digital marketing for your business. Here are just a few of them…
When you have your own business, you’ll know that marketing and advertising are the most expensive things you need to do. Marketing via digital platforms gives a much more affordable alternative to traditional methods. These methods can be hugely impactful but cost you way less.
For example, you can subscribe to an email marketing subscriber, such as MailChimp, Mailerlite or ConvertKit for little cost (and with MailChimp and Mailerlite, there are free versions when you first start). This will help you reach all the customers on your mailing list by email, quicky and efficiently.
Good return on investment
You get an incredibly good return on your investment with digital marketing. For example, if you run an advertising campaign on a social media platform, it costs much less that traditional marketing and with email marketing, you’ll also get a good return on your investment.
Measurement is easy peasy!
With traditional methods, you must (typically) wait months to evaluate a particular campaign to see how it’s worked. But with a digital campaign, you can find results within a few days… and you’ll know almost immediately if an ad is performing well.
If you sign up to an email subscription platform, their email marketing software will enable you to track the performance of your emails – you’ll know who’s opened them and who hasn’t. You can also find out about conversion rates.
Using Google Analytics helps you measure goals achieved on a website or blog. And Google AdWords manager allows you to monitor the performance of your ads on Google search. So, you’ll know how many people viewed your ads and what the conversion rate is.
Easy to adjust your ads
If you do decide on an ad campaign, if you find that it’s not really performing as well as you hoped, you can adjust it accordingly, or stop it altogether, with just the click of a mouse. The same can be done for changing something within a current ad.
Developing your brand
You can use digital platforms to build your business brand and reputation. For example, a great website, or a blog featuring quality articles, which are useful to your audience. Social Media channels are also fabulous for brand recognition, so long as you post consistently and are very interactive with your audience.
The good thing about social media channels is that they are shareable, which allows you to share articles, blog posts, website, campaigns etc., with your followers.
By this, I mean that your campaigns can target the exact audience you want. You can choose potential customers based on their preferences or actions.
For example, if you have an email subscription set up with a free lead magnet to entice customers in, such as an e-book, you can tailor emails to that customer totally based on what they asked for. You know they’re interested in the subject matter of your e-book, so are there other digital or physical products that they might also be interested in?
I don’t mean make your emails to customers all about selling…but you know for future reference, once you have given quality information and once you know your email subscribers a bit more, you know that they’ll be more open to similar products or services.
If your business is online, it’s simple – you’ve gone global darling! The internet is global, available 24/7, to billions of people. Marketing on your digital platforms opens you up to customers from all over the world.
With traditional marketing, you may have put an ad in a local paper or on a billboard. This will reach a large audience, but you will be limited to demographics, (where the magazine is distributed, or where the billboard is located). With digital marketing, you can identify and target a specific audience and in turn, send highly converting marketing messages.
Digital marketing helps you to conduct the necessary research to identify your buyer persona, and helps you to understand your target audience, which means you can define your marketing strategy and reach those prospects that are most likely to buy from you.
If you’d like more regular marketing tips delivered to your inbox, and would like a free marketing strategy workbook, please click on the link below to subscribe to my email list.
Growing your email list is one of the best ways to grow your business. I know that most of us use social media, and that is one of the ways to promote your email list. In this blog, I’m going to talk specifically about growing your email list on Facebook.
Before you start
Before you begin to promote your email list, I would suggest that you create an engaging incentive. Most of us spend a large percentage of our time every day reading and answering our emails, so people don’t want to be sent an email, just for the sake of it. They want to be sent an email for a reason. One of the best reasons you can give is to have an exciting and engaging lead magnet that provides tons of value and therefore will encourage people to join your email list.
Incentives could be:
A discount code
A free course
Whatever you choose, it will help you get more subscribers than if you just asked them to sign up for your newsletter. Everyone loves a freebie, and if that freebie delivers value, then even better.
Once you have your lead magnet sorted you are ready to promote your email list. Facebook is a great place to do this, so here are a few ideas to help that promotion along.
Create a new Facebook page cover
This sounds obvious, but so many people don’t do this. If you have a lead magnet to promote, create a Facebook cover image to promote it. I use Canva, which is a fabulous site which gives free templates for this kind of thing and it’s super easy to use…best of all, the templates look very professional.
Once you have your new cover created and on your page, make sure you update the button on your page to link through to your lead magnet landing page. This just makes it easier for your visitors to navigate and they don’t have to go searching for the relevant link.
Create a post
You can also create posts in Canva, so spend a bit of time creating a promotional post or graphic to promote your lead magnet. In fact, it’s a good idea to make several, with different captions – make sure that the captions talk about the pain point or problem that your lead magnet will solve. For example, my lead magnet now is a free marketing workbook, which takes people through setting up their marketing plan, step by step. It’s something I know that some small businesses struggle with, and as I help people with their marketing, it made sense to create this to help them out.
Once you start posting your promotional posts, you will soon see which caption works best and you could use it for future ad campaigns.
As well as a promotional post, you can also create posts that simply invites people to join your email list. Don’t forget to tell your visitors how your newsletter or emails will help them – what benefits you provide and the value they will get from it.
Use your About section
Your Facebook page has an About section, so ensure that you are using this to its best advantage. Once you have your lead magnet, you can include it in your About section, telling visitors what it is and how it helps them, with a CTA (call to action) to invite people to join your email list.
Join Facebook groups
You will know who your target market is and, if you have a business page, probably already belong to groups where they are members. If not, search for groups where they are likely to be and join. It can be tempting to join Facebook groups that are full of people who do similar things to you, and as these groups and networking in them, can take quite a bit of time, I wouldn’t advise being in too many of them!
The only way you’ll know if a group is right for you is to join and network. Join in tasks and fun competitions or silly posts. Engage in all the business posts and keep your eyes peeled for questions members might ask that you can answer and show that you are helpful and knowledgeable about your subject. Obviously, you give this information away for free! People are more likely to respect and build trust with you if they can see that you give value and are genuine … not just doing a sales pitch.
If you have a business page, you will also have a personal profile on Facebook. So, make sure that you have your work information on there, so people can click through and follow you, or have your website address link, so people can check out what you do…and have another opportunity to join your email list.
Run and ad campaign on Facebook
You can also run an ad campaign to grow your email list. The benefits of an ad campaign are that you can directly target your ideal customer, so you know you are reaching the right people.
There are two types of ad campaign…a conversions campaign or a leads campaign. If you choose a conversions campaign, you can measure how your ad is performing, and if you have the Facebook Pixel on your website, you can measure which of your ads ends up with people signing up to your email list.
A leads campaign will simply collect email addresses on a landing page on Facebook. You will most likely generate more volume with a leads campaign, but you’ll get a higher quality of lead with a conversion campaign. You won’t know what works best for you until you try both.
Promote your blog
If you have a blog, then Facebook is the ideal place to promote your blog articles. Make sure that your blog post has a call to action to sign up to your email list or newsletter.
You can simply post a link to your blog in a Facebook post.
You can put a link to your blog post in a Facebook group, if you’re answering a question about something you’ve written about.
You can also create a promotional graphic, which includes your blog title on it and include a link in the caption.
If you produce evergreen blog content, re-share some of your older content every couple of months as you will pick up new followers from them too.
Run a contest
Running a contest on Facebook can really boost your engagement rate and can also help you with new followers. You give away a simple prize that is related to whatever you do. There are loads of different types of contests, such as:
Like a post to win
Comment on a post to win
Like and comment to win
Fill in the blank competition
The list is endless, so you can be creative here. The prize can be given by either doing a draw – you put all the names of the people who have liked, comments etc., into a draw to win. Then you do the draw ‘live’ on Facebook and can create some hype and a real buzz around it.
You could also give everyone a prize. For example, if you’re a service-based business, you could pull together a valuable checklist that helps do a particular thing. Everyone who enters, gets the PDF with a link to subscribe to your email list.
It’s up to you how you host your contest.
If you have a website…
If you have a website with a subscribe button, when someone signs up for your email list, redirect them to a thank you page with social media share buttons. Invite your new subscribers to share the valuable lead magnet they’ve received with their friends and family.
…to track the traffic that comes from your Facebook page to your website or to your email list. Then you will know what works and what doesn’t. If you use Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see what traffic is coming from Facebook. This is so valuable as you can see what kind of posts are the most popular and what drives people to sign up to your email list.
Good luck and if you need help setting up a lead magnet and email sequences, get in touch and I can help.
And, if you would like to join my email list and have monthly marketing tips delivered to your inbox, click on the link below. You will also receive a free workbook, which guides you the marketing strategy process from identifying your target market to a marketing action plan.
Online shopping has never been more popular, and not just amongst the younger generation. Lockdown was a contributing factor to more people starting to shop online and it seems that it is continuing. More online stores are opening, which will mean that competition to stand out is fierce…and online marketplaces help build trust with customers and give a more convenient way to buy from home, on your phone.
Why do people shop online? Here are a few reasons…
Wide variety of products
Online shoppers have access to absolutely anything they want to buy, whereas if they visit a store, they are limited to what that particular store sells and must visit several different stores to get everything they want. Online shopping puts every kind of store at your fingertips – it’s easy to browse and find what you want and easy to find the latest trends or fashions.
You don’t have to go out, get stuck in traffic, find a parking space, or drag your children round the shops. You don’t have to worry about fitting it in around your job, rushing to catch the shops before they close. You can shop online 24/7 …and even shop in your PJs if you want to. It’s less stressful and often cheaper, as you can compare stores and prices much more easily.
It’s not just about loads of options when you shop online, but often you can find things you want at a much lower price than in stores. Online shops don’t have the overheads of a physical store.
You can also often find coupons or discounts online as this is a tactic used to rise above competitors. And several online stores operate within a cashback regime, so this is also attractive to buyers.
No sales pitch
When you visit a physical store, you are often pounced on by assistants, asking if you need help or trying to get you to buy something you didn’t want. If something isn’t available, you’ll often be tempted to try something else. Many a time, I’ve gone to a specific store to buy a particular dress, only to find it’s not in stock, or they don’t have the colour I want. But do I leave the store empty handed? Very rarely! I have bought things I don’t really want, have been persuaded that a different colour will really suit me by the assistant and know it’s not really for me, but often just get caught up in the moment and buy anyway.
When you shop online, you don’t have to worry about what you buy – if you want to buy some really sexy underwear or something a bit more intimate for the bedroom, buying online means you can choose for it to be delivered in plain packaging. You don’t have to be embarrassed at the checkout. You can also browse everything you want to look at, read the descriptions and decide which item you want, without an assistant hovering. And you can take your time to choose.
No crowds and no queues
This is an obvious one – I absolutely hate crowded shopping centres, so online shopping suits me as I don’t have to queue to buy something, nor do I have to feel claustrophobic in crowds.
Baskets and checkout
The thing I really like about online shopping is the quick and easy checkout process. I just add what I want to my basket, and then checkout at my leisure. It’s usually quick and simple – you can also choose which delivery option you want and can often get next day delivery. There are also lots of local shops who do free delivery, which is an added bonus.
I like to check out what other people think about a product before I buy it and online shopping makes this a cinch. Information and product descriptions are usually clear – you know if the product you are buying is environmentally friendly, and you can see what other buyers think of the product before you buy.
In 2021, it is estimated that 2.14 billion people worldwide will purchase goods online (Statista). And that global ecommerce sales are forecast at over four trillion dollars. As well as this, projections are that ecommerce sales globally are going to grow to 6.4 trillion by 2024.
According to Thinkwithgoogle, 2018, 63% of shopping occasions begin online. This means that, no matter whether a product is bought online or at a physical store, the customer journey began online, with a search. This just goes to show that if you have an online business, it makes sense to ensure that the customer experience is first class. Understanding how your target audience searches for products you sell can help you create a unique customer experience.
It goes without saying that the recent and ongoing pandemic has had a massive impact across the globe regarding online shopping. Strict lockdown has seen online shopping skyrocket – especially grocery shopping.
Online shopping is set to evolve further as time goes on. If businesses want to survive, they must get online to keep up with the latest trends.
A particular plus for me regarding online shopping is that I know that I’m buying something that hasn’t been picked up, tried on or handled by loads of different people. However, having said that, there is still something exciting about wandering around the shops and finding something you never knew you wanted! And, being a huge stationery fan, I love to browse a stationery aisle…and don’t get the same buzz online.
What are your thoughts on online shopping? Do you prefer it, or do you like to have a wander and a browse in a physical store?
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.
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.
How many times do you think of a great idea and launch with gusto, thinking ‘this is it, the greatest thing since sliced bread’, only for it never to get finished? We all do this from time to time. Sometimes you might even find yourself completing all the planning and detail, but just find that you lose interest in it and then the end seems further and further away. Procrastination starts to creep in, and before you know it, you’ve stuck your project on the back burner to ‘come back to later’. Inevitably, later never comes, so how can you be sure that whatever you start is going to be finished?
Here are a few tips to help you…
Be choosy about what you start on
Make sure that whatever it is you want to do, that it is something that you are passionate about, something you really WANT to achieve. If you start on something with a half-hearted attitude, you won’t see it through. For example, I once decided I was going to make myself a skirt…now I absolutely hate sewing, but I thought it would be a good idea to help me save money etc. That skirt was started when I was in my 20s and I finally threw it away in my 40s when I realised it was never going to be finished. Why didn’t I finish it? Because I hate sewing and it was a chore to even get started on it.
Be more cautious about what kind of thing you embark on. If it’s something you are passionate about, you are more likely to be interested in the planning and actioning stages and won’t be wasting your time.
Another tip would be to try it out first – for example if you want to start a business, read up on it first. Find out as much as you can about it and see if it’s for you. You might want to volunteer somewhere in that sector or offer to help a similar business you know to find out if it’s something you’d really like to do. Then if you do decide to go ahead, you’ll know more about it.
Check out what resources you’ll need
Big companies and corporates always look at resource planning, so they have a rough idea of what is going to be needed for their project. They also look at how long it is likely to take and how much it is likely to cost. Planning out a quick overview of these things could save you lots of time and energy later, and you’ll immediately know if your project is viable. And you can use your initial planning to help you when you go into more detail.
For example, I recently published my first e-book on Amazon Kindle. It took me ages to write it as I didn’t plan it properly to start with. By the time I’d written several chapters, which took months as I did no planning, I realised that to really do it justice, I needed to start again…and start with the planning. So, I…
Created a rough outline of the book and what it would contain
Found relevant quotes and statistics and listed resources for those quotes and stats
Wrote bullet points of each of the chapters and then put them into some sort of order
Write the material properly
Designed the front and back cover
Wrote a brief bio
Created the sales page and any graphics I wanted to use for that
Made notes about how I would market the book
And gave time to edit, edit, edit!
This gave me an overall view of the book and what it would cover and look like. Which brings me nicely onto the next point…
Once you have the plan in place, as I did with my book, you will now have a more realistic idea of how much time it is going to take you to complete your project.
Now, for me, lists work extremely well – I am a list person! As I work online, I needed to factor in the time to do all the things in my plan. You will need to do the same. Plan out your tasks and resources, put them into manageable chunks of time and make a to-do list. Then plan on your calendar when you will do those tasks and book that time in.
I think the thing that puts a lot of us off when we are thinking about something we really want to do is that we don’t think about how much time and effort it’s going to take to make that dream come true or bring that project to a successful close.
My book took me 2 years to write because of procrastination and another year to think about publishing it. I had planned everything, but life kept getting in the way and other work deadlines, so I kept putting it back, despite all the planning. So, deadlines are important to keep you on track – be realistic about the time you can give.
Don’t be a perfectionist
Now, I struggle with this as I like things to be just right. However, I did so many edits on my book that in the end, I had to say to myself, ‘STOP’ and just go with what you’ve got…because every time you review something, you change it! Instead, if you are working on a project and find you are revisiting part of it repeatedly, STOP! Move on to the next part and return much later to review again. You’ll probably find that what you thought was not good enough, suddenly sounds or looks great…or that whatever you thought was a massive no-no, suddenly really isn’t that big a deal at all.
If you find that you are being so anal about every single little detail, you will never finish, so try to break down each of the tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks and put your energy into completing each small part.
Make a commitment
If you are going to go ahead with whatever your project is, then make a definite commitment to it. Whatever you put in your to-do list, commit to it, give yourself the time to do it and DO IT! If you find yourself going off on a tangent, try and get back on track. If, along the way, you come across something you hadn’t planned, but it’s needed, go back to your plan, and add it in – and make sure you plan the time to add it!
It’s also about committing to yourself. It might be that if you start to fall behind your schedule, you might need to give up other things in order to achieve your goal. If that means saying no to a couple of nights out or weekends away, so be it. You can do that any time, but your project is now! Once you commit…really commit to it. Once you have finished your project, those nights out and weekends away will still be there and you’ll have achieved your goal, so will enjoy them all the more. If you do them whilst you know you should be working on your project, you’ll be feeling guilty and when you do get back to it, you’ll be annoyed with yourself for not being further ahead.
Keep your energy up – visualise the end result
At the beginning of any project, we’re all the same – full of enthusiasm and energy for what we’re about to achieve. But that seriously wanes as time goes on. You know you still want to do it and you’re still excited about it, but you’re not quite so energetic about it as you were in the beginning.
It’s usually because you’ve lost sight of the end result. You need to be able to close your eyes and visualise that end result – what does it look and feel like? Maybe have a mood board with what it will look like – try and imagine how you’re going to feel when you get there. If your goal is to earn enough money from your project to buy a dream house or car, have photos of what that looks like on your desk, or on your wall in your workspace.
This is really important. If you’ve planned everything out and then try and do it in a certain order, you might hit a task you’re not too enamoured with. This then makes it easy to procrastinate. So, be flexible! If you’ve got your tasks down in order, and you don’t feel like doing task number 3, or start task number 3 and aren’t really enjoying it, don’t feel you have to stick with it. Move on to another task and come back to it later. If you don’t you could find yourself at a complete standstill. For example, one day when I was writing my book, I was bored with it and didn’t feel like writing, and I was allowing myself to become distracted by social media or email. So, I stopped what I was doing and started working on designing the cover of the book. Over the course of writing it, I changed the cover about ten times, but I enjoyed every minute!
Keep a record of where you are
Tracking where you are is crucial, so you know what you’re doing and when, how things are progressing and if you need to amend anything to keep on track. Every week, keep a record of what you’ve done and how it went – what went right and what went wrong. Then you can amend what you need to do the following week.
Celebrate your achievements
When you plan how you’re going to achieve your goal and finish your project, put in little milestones along the way. Then, when you reach those milestones, have a little celebration. This really helps you stay on track and to stay with your project. Each milestone brings you that little bit closer to the finish line.
Don’t feel guilty if you do give up
Finally, not every single project you start out to do will get finished. No matter how much planning you do, if you really lose interest in it, or find that something is not viable after all, don’t flog a dead horse. It might be that by working on one project, you get an even better idea for something completely different – and then that initial project becomes a chore because your heart really isn’t in it anymore.
I don’t mean just give up as soon as it feels a bit hard, or your interest wanes a bit – that’s normal. If you’re almost there and just need to find the energy for that final push, then go for it and push yourself
But, if it’s really not working out, then stop. Go away and do something else and then come back to it after a couple of weeks. If you still can’t get going with it, it’s time to call it a day. And don’t feel guilty about that – sometimes, despite all your best intentions, something just won’t work. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to weigh up the pros and cons.
I hope these tips will help you with your planning process and help you overcome some of the natural procrastination that comes with all projects.
If you found this article useful, please feel free to comment below or to share. And if you’d like to take a look at my book, it can be found on Amazon.
In India, most of the funding for mental health is used for institutional care that focuses on addressing solely biological vulnerabilities rather than social stressors (e.g. poverty, employment status, abuse, homelessness)
The Banyan aims to address both the biological and social factors that contribute to the emergence of mental illness through their treatment and prevention programmes. They offer comprehensive mental health services in a range of institutional and community settings for people with mental health issues living in homelessness and poverty, working in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra. Their focus is on transformative social justice. They work to ensure that people with mental health conditions living in homelessness make journeys back to families and communities of choice, re-enter work, reclaim social relationships and pursue lives of their choosing.
I had been working in the Marketing and Communications team for a large, global insurance company in the UK. One of the many accounts I looked after from an internal communications perspective was the charity arm of the company. Every year, the company sent individuals on work assignments to help with personal development. Only a few of these assignments were available and I’d wanted to go on one for a few years, when I saw ‘The Banyan’ assignment in Chennai, India. The Banyan had grown from just a handful of staff three years earlier, to now over 100 members of staff. The CEO needed to find a way to communicate with all staff members at all levels, who spoke 16 different Hindu and Tamil languages. He needed a sound communications strategy in place and tools to help the newly appointed communications team to deal with internal and external communications. The new team also needed help and training in communication vehicles and what best suited their needs. So, with a little trepidation, I applied, not thinking for one minute that I would be selected and approved…but amazingly, I was granted the assignment and so started one of the best adventures of my life.
In November 2010, I set off with terrified anticipation on a journey to Chennai in Southern India. Right from the start, I was completely out of my comfort zone, which was very hard for me – at work, I gave the image of a very self-confident person, methodical and very well organised. In my home life, I always did everything the safe way, rarely did anything on my own and always asked for someone’s opinion before I made any decisions. Although I had flown several times on holiday with my family, I had never flown long-haul and had only flown a couple of times alone for work.
And so, I found myself with work visa, passport, tickets, traveller’s cheques, huge suitcase and hand luggage in departures at London’s Heathrow airport. It was easy to navigate my way to the departure gate and within no time, I was on board a huge plane. As I hate flying, I was shaking as the plane began to move, and soon we were speeding down the runway. With tears streaming down my face, holding so tight to my Dad’s St Christopher, the big bird took off smoothly and we were off. It was a bit bumpy as it was a cold, grey, overcast day and pouring with rain, but we were soon up above the clouds and I had an 11 hour flight to look forward to. It was a pretty uneventful flight and I enjoyed every minute of it.
My first taste of India
The arrivals in India was total chaos, nothing like a UK airport. Absolutely crowded with people, which sent my claustrophobic brain into overdrive. But I managed to work my way through to the exit. It was the middle of the night and I don’t know what I expected when I got outside, but it certainly wasn’t a total bombardment of my senses. As I left the building, the noise level rose, people shouting to their arriving relatives and very loud music playing from musicians all around. There was a ‘pathway’ from the airport to the car park, which was barricaded off, with people leaning over shouting and waving. I walked down the centre, not really knowing what to do next…after my ears being bombarded, now it was the turn of my eyes – people in brightly coloured clothes, various animals wandering about, including a couple of cows; I could smell the most delicious aroma of the various stalls cooking Indian food to sell – the smell of the spices was so strong, that I could actually taste it!
The taxi journey to the hotel was uneventful and I arrived at 4.30am. It was a lovely hotel, and my room was huge with air con (thank goodness) and an en-suite…not quite the same as an English hotel’s en-suite, but there was a loo, a sink, and a shower of sorts, which involved a tap, a long piece of hose and a bucket!
My first day
When I woke up, it was time to go and get some traveller’s cheques cashed, as I was only allowed to bring the equivalent of £20 into the country in cash. On leaving the hotel, I was met by a wall of humid heat. It was monsoon season, but the temperature never dipped below 35 degrees day and night. I felt like I was a damp mess before I even found my first tuk-tuk driver. He took me to the big shopping centre, Spencer’s Plaza, where I could cash my traveller’s cheques and get something to eat…which was surprisingly easy to achieve. I got to know my tuk-tuk driver, and I asked him to be my driver for the next month, arranging for him to pick me up and take me to work every morning and to collect me from work and deliver me back every night.
I met the CEO of The Banyan in the afternoon of the first day and started work the following day. The Banyan is a charity that takes homeless women with mental health problems off the streets and gives them a home and rehabilitation to get them back into society…eventually. It can take months or even years to achieve this and the need is great – see more on their website.
I also met the Communications Team I would be working with and training…three lovely people, who became good friends to me during my time there, one of whom I still keep in contact with.
During the first few days, I carried out a fact finding mission. I spoke to most of the staff in the office to find out how they currently received information from the CEO and important information about the charity they worked for. Most of it was word of mouth, and Chinese whispers featured heavily in what they understood. They all had computers in the office to do their work, several of the workers were, like me, on assignments from other countries. There was a very basic form of intranet, but little used as only the people in the main office had access to it when I was there.
I also visited the other two locations, which were both a car journey away. One was only an hour or so by car. It was a huge building set over four floors and each floor housed differing stages of where the women were with the state of their mental health…and it varied greatly.
The ground floor housed the offices of the workers who ran the home, there was a large kitchen…huge in fact, where women who were well on their way to recovery, had a ‘job’ in that they cooked meals for all the residents and also for the staff at the office where I worked in Chennai – a van arrived every day to ferry lunch to us workers in Chennai. There was also a living room on this floor.
The next floor up housed a mini gym and various rooms for treatment and therapies, exercise classes and various classes, such as basket making. There were also rooms where group sessions took place with patients and staff. This was quite a calm floor and there were also some bedrooms on this floor too. The other two floors were mainly bedrooms. The aim was to get the women from the top floor, treated and on medication, so that they slowly came back to being themselves, then moved down a floor, until eventually they would work in the kitchen or have some kind of work, such as basket weaving.
The charity had a very high success rate at helping these women integrate back into society, giving them the time, treatment and medication they needed.
The third location I visited was quite a long way away from the four storey building, but it was where the women went, when they left that establishment to be rehabilitated. The third location was wonderful. It was in a rural area, where the buildings were set in a square around a central courtyard. The courtyard had a vegetable garden that the women could tend and beautiful flowers and trees. Here, the women lived in houses or chalets, between 4-6 people to a house. They cooked and cleaned for themselves, went to ‘work’ every day, either sewing, making baskets, cooking, cleaning, and doing the garden etc. This place got them ready to go back into society. They gathered in a big hall regularly to just meet up, chat, drink tea and do some kind of activity. We joined in with a dancing activity, which was lovely and the women were all very calm and happy.
Helping the charity
Back at the office, I realised that the task I had to undertake in just over 4 weeks was huge. Whilst at the other locations, I had asked the staff how they received communications from their Head Office, so I knew that this was not going to be easy.
The first task was to pull together a list of what communication vehicles were currently in place and then work out how best to communicate with all employees, bearing in mind there were over 16 languages in everyday use.
Luckily, one of the members of the communication team and another member of staff could speak all the languages between them, so that was a huge plus.
To cut a long story short, we put several processes in place, one of which was a newsletter, which could be sent online to those who had computers and printed as a hard copy and put on the notice boards in all the locations. There would be translations available for those who wanted it and they could have a hard copy. Notice boards were still the best way to communicate with so many people and so many different languages, especially with many not online.
I’m sure that by now, some 11 years later, things have changed greatly from when I was there and obviously technology has moved on greatly since then too. The charity has grown and its work is second to none and I am very proud to be able to say that I worked there for a short time and was able to help in a very small way.
Lesson learned from being in India
As well as training the staff on how to get information for their newsletter, how best to write it and how to implement various other forms of communication, I learnt a lot from them. I learned about their culture, found a love of proper Southern Indian food and to respect their customs and way of life.
In the hotel, every evening I sat in the area where there were computers with free internet, so I could speak to my friends and family back in the UK. I had the most wonderful conversations with several of the staff on the front desk. As I’m not an early to bed person, I was often sitting there well into the late evening. They told me about their families, and although I already knew before I went to India, I was surprised by how many families lived with not just their wives and children, but also their parents and sometimes their grandparents too. The extended family is very important, and I was struck by the respect they obviously showed their elders, and by the obvious affection they had for their extended families.
As time went on and I spent more time with the staff, and talked to my tuk-tuk driver, I realised just how much we in the UK took for granted. But the thing that struck me the most about the Indian people, was that they were all incredibly happy. They loved their families, and that love shone through everything. Whether they were wealthy, normal office workers, graduates, hotel staff or tuk-tuk drivers, they made me feel so welcome and were just so kind and friendly. My tuk-tuk driver was lovely and spent weekends ferrying me around to various places of interest, so I could find out more about the culture.
One weekend at the hotel, there was a wedding. I was in the computer area and was looking at some photos from home that I’d taken the winter before I came to India. Some of the children at the wedding were fascinated by my photos of snow – they’d never seen it. And one of them pointed to the photo of my detached double garage at my home and said what a lovely big house I had. I felt ashamed and couldn’t bring myself to say that what they were seeing was actually the house for my car!
The impact that my trip had on me was to make me feel very ashamed and cross with myself, that I had become such a material person.
I also realised that happiness and contentment with life was something that I was sadly lacking. I had all the material things – a nice, big house with all mod cons, a nice car, fantastic job etc. etc. But what was more important was happiness.
Three weeks before I went on my assignment to Chennai, my Dad had died. I had spent two weeks sitting with him in hospital watching him slowly fade away. The first week, we had several long chats about life. The one thing that resonated with me when I was in India, was something he had said to me, “Be happy, my sweet. Grab every chance you get to be happy.” These weren’t his exact words, but that’s the gist of it. He didn’t know that I was going to India, as I knew he would be worried about that. But when I was there, I visited several religious places and, at St Thomas’ Basilica, I found a kind of peace that I hadn’t felt for years. The religious leader there sat with me and prayed with me, even though I’m not really religious, but it just felt right, and I told him that my Dad had just died. He was such a kind person, and I spent a good half an hour, just sitting there quietly.
On the plane, on the way home, I had 11 hours to reflect on my visit and to make a few decisions about the life I had in the UK.
And 11 years later, my life is very different. I’m very happy living with my partner in rural SW France. My children are all grown up and have their own families, good jobs, and nice homes. I love visiting them all and it was relatively easy to pop over and see them 3-4 times a year, before Covid struck…but I’m sure that those times will come back soon and then things will be back to some kind of normal.
My partner and I have a small cottage, with a lot of land and outbuildings, most of which are derelict. We’re both self-employed and I work from home online. We don’t have lots of money, we don’t have lots of material things…and we don’t need them. What I learned from being in India was that there are more important things in life than material things – what we have is real love and true happiness. We have fantastic children and grandchildren, who we love with all our hearts. We have a roof over our heads and food to eat. Sometimes we struggle, but we always have each other, and can depend on each other – and money can’t buy that.
My experiences in India taught me a lot about life, opened my eyes about so many things, and taught me so much about myself in that one short month. I’d absolutely love to go back one day.
If you’d like to find out more about The Banyan, and their continuing amazing work, click here.
A blog post is a great way to connect with your target audience, helping with engagement and it also helps to set you up as an expert in your field.
Your blog post is basically an article, or piece of news, maybe a guide or ‘how to…do something’. It covers a specific topic or can address a particular problem that your audience is encountering, that you solve. Generally, blog posts range from 600 – 2000 words and contain images, videos, or infographics.
Importantly, blog posts are great for driving traffic to your website. There are millions of blogs out there on every subject you can think of, so it’s important to make yours as engaging as possible.
Where do I start?
The first task is to have a brainstorming session to generate ideas for your posts. Coming up with ideas can be a daunting task, and it’s often the most difficult part of blog writing, but once you get your ideas, you’ll be away!
I use my blog to start a theme, which I then run through all my social media posts, repurposing part of my blogs to make other content. So, how do I find things to write about?
I know my target audience and my ideal client, so I look at the problems they might be facing with their small businesses. I belong to several groups on Facebook and follow lots of small businesses on my Instagram account, so I can see if there are questions being asked about my specific niche. Then I try to address those issues in a blog post.
I also use Pinterest to look for ideas; Quora is a Q&A platform, where you can search for questions being asked in your niche and Reddit is a good source of content ideas – you just put your subject in the search bar and ideas for content will come up. There are loads of tools out there to help you…and don’t forget to ask your customers or audience what they’d be interested in seeing.
Once you have your topic, the next decision to make is what kind of post are you going to do? You could do:
A ‘how to’ post
A ‘what is…’ post
An ultimate guide
Tips and hints
A list-based post
A post about something personal that’s happened in your life
It really depends on your niche. If you’re a travel blogger, for example, you’ll be writing about places you’ve been, how you get there, what your experiences were like and giving lots of advice about travelling in general.
This would be a different kind of blog than someone like me, who writes about marketing and helping small businesses. My posts tend to be educational, ‘how to’ (like this one!) or addressing things I know that my audience struggle with.
Create an outline of your post.
Now you have your idea and you have decided on what kind of post you’re going to do, create an outline. Do plenty of research on your subject and make notes, then you can put everything into some sort of order. A quite simple order for a post would be:
Your introduction – include the title of your post here and a few keywords.
The main point of your post, what you are hoping to achieve, or what you are hoping your audience will achieve and what they’re going to get out of your post.
Additional information – this can be bullet points, infographics, graphs, or videos/images to illustrate your points. This is where you get down to the nitty gritty.
Conclusion – reiterate the point of the blog post, and include a call to action, so your audience know what to do next. This could be ‘Follow my blog for more tips’; you could include a link to another page on your website; you could point your audience to your social media pages, so they can check them out. Or you can ask a question to encourage commenting on your blog post.
Now, onto the writing
Make sure you understand your audience – what do they want to know about? What will resonate with them? Creating a buyer persona can help with this, so you know your audience’s likes and dislikes.
Then, just start writing. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just get all your ideas down – write freely. Use your own voice and don’t try to be clever or write like a car manual! Just be yourself and your personality will come over to your audience.
Try and set aside 30 minutes a day to get yourself into the habit of writing and it will soon become second nature.
Once you’ve finished your blog:
go back over it and tweak it, so that it reads in order. Don’t forget to edit the grammar and spelling and check for typos. Sometimes the spelling of a word is right, but predictive text has changed it to something completely different to the word you wanted, so it doesn’t make sense.
Read it aloud, as sometimes what you read and what you hear when you read it are completely different!
If you’ve mentioned stats, ensure you include a link to the source of your information.
If you mention another business, include a link to their website
If the topic you’re writing about links to a previous blog article you’ve written, put a link to the previous article – this keeps your audience looking on your website
Then step away from your article – leave it for a day, or at least a couple of hours, then go back and re-read it with fresh eyes. This will help you pick up any errors and gives your brain time to process what you’ve written about, which might result in you wanting to add something.
Write your headline
I always write my headline last – I know the subject of the blog post and use that as a headline to start with. Then, once I’ve read the post through, I think of a catchy headline. For this post, I’ve literally used ‘How to write a blog post’, because I want you to know immediately what the post is about – it’s educational and informational, so I feel it just needs to say what it does on the tin!
Don’t be too clever or obscure with your headline writing, as you have very little time to capture your audience’s attention, so make it short and snappy and understandable.
Images help to break up the text, so incorporate a few images into your blog post.
Writing a blog post and publishing it on your website is great, but without SEO (search engine optimization), it won’t be found…unless you have a big following on your blog…and even then, you want to be finding new people to read it too.
Quite simply, SEO is about a strategic use of keywords, headline, sub headlines, URL and ensuring that your post is readable and easy to understand. You can use plugins, such as Yoast, which help enormously with your SEO, giving suggestions and correcting what you’ve done. SEO is a whole other subject, but it’s worth googling it to find out more.
Neil Patel is an absolute SEO guru – he has a great website, with easy-to-understand videos and blog content. He writes about all things marketing, so check out his website. I’ve learned so much from him!
Hit the publish button
Finally, once you’re happy with everything, hit that publish button and your blog post is ready to share with the world. Don’t just hit publish and run – you need to now do some work to get your blog in front of your target audience.
Share your post on all your social media sites, making sure you change the wording slightly for each platform.
Share in business groups when they have a ‘share your business’ day. There are several blogging groups too, which you can join and share your posts.
Tag influencers and use hashtags to get your content in front of your audience.
If you send out regular emails to subscribers, or send out a newsletter, include a link to your blog, with a sentence or two about it.
Look on one of the Q&A sites and if your blog answers someone’s question, answer their question and link them to your blog for further information
Use analytics to track the performance of your blog
After that, it’s just a case of creating consistent content – be that once a month or once a week – whatever you choose, try and be consistent with that timing. Your blog will start to attract an audience and will start to establish you as an expert in your field.
So, set aside time each week or month to brainstorm ideas and work on your blog. I always carry a notebook with me, (but I am a stationery geek!). I often think of ideas when I’m out, so I can make notes about ideas, no matter where I am.
If you have any questions, please feel free to put them in the comments. If you want to have a blog, but simply don’t have time to do it yourself, please drop me an email email@example.com
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
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.
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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