Special Offer for Lancashire Businesses

Ah’reet cocker! Is your Facebook Page mithering you?

Thee needn’t bother worrying anymore… As Local Lancashire Businesses Get the Special Offer of Full Facebook Management for only £100 per month!

No Contract – take it one month at a time, with the same set fee, guaranteed fuss-free!

Facebook Management Benefits;

  • Page Set-Up or Optimization of Existing Page – Fully set up new account or check and optimize existing one.
  • Audience Building – This includes daily effort of finding influencers and optimising content/account for user engagement.
  • Content Creation – Engaging and valuable content will be created organically using external sources plus relevant assets supplied or if preferable, check and optimise content you have written and make your existing marketing materials work in the social media environment.
  • Reputation Management – This includes daily monitoring and responding to online customer conversations about your business, including feedback, questions and general inquiries, compliments and complaints. A truly 24/7 customer service, service!
  • Content Distribution – Content will be distributed and tailored effectively and daily. There are no numerical limits to the number of posts.
  • Monthly Tracking and Progress Report – At the end of each month a progress report is supplied, documenting insights that show how the page is performing. This will look into what content is most engaging with followers, user likes, amongst many other important metrics. Information from this report can help guide content creation for the following month to maximise social media effectiveness and engagement.

For more information or to enquire about this offer get in touch quoting the code HOTPOT!

📧 Hello@scarlettdarbyshireuk.com

Not Enjoying Self-Employment? Here’s How to Fall Back in Love With Your Business!

From winning new projects, a diary full of promising meetings, to even decorating your new office and picking out all your fresh new folders and stationary… those first few development years of business ownership are exhilarating and full of adventure! No two days are ever the same and with every day comes a new experience and learning curve… and you loved every minute of it. But now? All of a sudden, those long hours you love to put in, are now a chore. Your focus is gone. Maybe your personal and home life are suffering as a result of the constant stress. Like everyone else unhappy with their job, you sit there with a sense of despair on Sunday night at the thought of another Monday back at your desk. Ultimately, everything about your business has become a burden. A burden that you undertake with zero passion.

You’re not sure how or when you started to feel this way. You just know something doesn’t feel right anymore. You’ve suddenly become one of those people who dreams of escaping your mundane unhappy work life in the quest for something more exciting. Starting your own small business is a bit like falling in love: it’s exciting, exhilarating, and new. You don’t mind putting in the hours and effort during the beginning because you feel like your building something good. But just like in the affairs of the heart, when it comes to business it’s all too easy to let the passion slide. Take off the rose-tinted glasses and after the adrenaline rush subsides the reality sets in and you may discover that not everything about running a business is so wonderful. There are tasks you absolutely hate to do, activities you find stale, technical difficulties to test your patience and clients and vendors who you may not get on with at all.

Before you make the huge decision to dump something you’ve worked so hard to make a success, consider how you can rekindle that lost spark. All people from all walks of life have those moments and periods of wanting to pack it all in, its completely natural. However, you owe it to yourself and your business to decide whether this is just a wobbly period (99% of the time is!) or your mind is made and that’s it you’re done!

Does this all sound familiar to you? Let’s highlight some of the danger signs and if you find yourself nodding along and saying ‘yep, that’s me’ then read on for top tips to get you feeling the love!

  • You’ve taken on too much, you’re wearing so many ‘job hats’ that it’s overwhelming
  • You no longer have the time to ensure you are keeping your clients/customers happy.
  • Business plan? Haha what is that… I haven’t looked at in ages/ever!
  • Your cash flow is a serious problem
  • You’re working long hours and hate every second of it
  • You’re putting things off and finding everything else to do but solve your problems.

Thankfully, you can rekindle the flames of passion for your business by making a few subtle (tried and tested!) changes in how you work and think. Here are seven tips to help you love your business again!

  1. Take a holiday! Most business owners rarely take a break, and if they do, they are still not fully switched off… they still answer emails, have the laptop available etc. Repeat after me … ‘YOUR CLIENTS CAN LIVE WITHOUT YOU FOR TWO WEEKS, THE WORLD IS NOT GOING TO END!’ Get a holiday booked that’s purely for you, designed for lots of rest and relaxation. No worrying about answering emails, listening to answerphone messages and dare I say it… no social media! You might find a holiday to escape from it all, and one that gives you (and your brain!) a chance to relax and slow down, is just what you needed to fall back in love with your business. Don’t feel guilty either – everyone needs a break and your clients will understand. Just give them plenty of notice and away you go.
  1. With your newly refreshed state of mind… start again! After a holiday you always feel relaxed, rested and re-motivated. Before you go back straight into work and catching up – take a day to spring clean your business. Use this new-found positivity to clear out the garbage (ineffective procedures, bad clients and maybe even literally clear out the garbage if you have a messy office!). Simply ask yourself questions such as; what can I get rid of that’s not working/making me unhappy? What’s something that’s costing me lots of money? Can I get rid completely or find a cheaper alternative? What can I do to make my business more efficient? What ideas can I implement to make my clients happier? What skills can I learn that will benefit my business? By examining your life and reviewing your typical work day/week/month you can work out all the areas that are good/bad and act on that to help you solve many of your business issues and set yourself up for success!
  1. Streamline processes to relive overwhelm! If the main problem within your business is that you feel overwhelmed, running around doing 1001 jobs, then you will really benefit from looking objectively at your business to identify the areas in which your time is being taken up unnecessarily. You can majorly improve your productivity and free up a lot of your time by implementing software, delegating tasks, hiring a freelancer and other tactics designed to be utilized by business owners like yourself to improve workflow and yield better results! Constantly chasing up invoices? Implement a software to do it for you. Absolutely hate answering the business calls? Hire a company who’s job it is to do that. You can easily free up your time by streamlining your current processes and delegating the ones you hate to someone else, leaving you happier, less overwhelmed and of course your business becomes more productive and professional as a result.
  1. Remind yourself why you started your business! If you’re unhappy with your life and business, it’s easy to forget why you launched your own venture in the first place and the huge benefits you receive from it. When it comes down to it, you‘re the boss. You can take time off when you want, work the hours that suit you, pick and choose your clients and have control over your future. Ok so you are thinking of quitting self-employment, for what? To go back to the ratrace working for someone else, 9-5, a condescending boss, traffic and working all the hours under the sun to make someone else rich! That’s crazy to want to go back into! If you need to fall back in love with your business, take a few minutes to be humble and grateful. You are living the life that most people only dream they had to guts to do! Yes it may be stressful at times, but surely all the massive positives outweigh the negatives you experience sometimes.
  1. Have good support around you! Running your own business can be a very lonely affair, especially if no one in your inner circle runs their own business so can’t relate to how you are feeling. It needn’t be, however as there are so many business support networks around in the form of monthly groups, networking opportunities, online communities etc. where you can meet up, get out the office and talk to like-minded people who can offer advice, support and a new way of thinking about things. Don’t underestimate a simple coffee with a friend or family member too! A nice chat to whinge and whine to get things off your chest can do the world of good – as they say a problem shared is a problem halved! – so make sure you have a lot of people around you who you can talk you when things are getting too much as this support can make the difference to help you succeed.
  1. Work out your plan! If you are on a weight loss plan, for example, how great does it feel when you hit your weekly/monthly target and keep knocking those targets out the park! How motivating it is to see yourself working hard to achieve this positive life changing goal. The same logic can be applied to building and making a success of your own business. Take the time to work “on” your business by setting time aside to plan your goals and create a bigger picture of what you want to achieve. Identify realistic goals and objectives and create a roadmap that guides you towards that success! Make sure you regularly review your master plan and check your progress toward achieving your goals. When you see yourself hitting those goals you will feel a sense of motivation and fulfilment knowing you are one step towards where you want to be. Importantly, don’t feel sad if you don’t hit your goal, simply assess what you missed and learn what you need to do to make sure you hit it next month… you’re only human remember!
  1. Book your next holiday! The logic here is that you will always have something to look forward to. Taking a break, even if its just a few days away is so important for a business owner. A holiday refreshes you, gets you a change of scenery, reminds you how good you really have it (after all, you didn’t have to ask anyone else’s permission to go on holiday – you just did it because you could as you’re the boss!) and that time away even gives you a chance to miss your business! All of which gear you up for an ultra-positive stint for when you get back to your desk!

What are your top tips for staying motivated as a business owner?

20 Useful Things You Can Do When Business is Slow

Starting a business and making it work takes you on a difficult but rewarding roller coaster ride full of ups and downs. During the ‘ups’ when business is booming it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day with a busy schedule and feeling like there’s a million things on your mind becoming the norm. For many businesses however facing the ‘downs’ can hit you hard especially if you not prepared for or expecting it. Whether it’s a slow intake of new customers, a flurry of bad news and let downs or your sales have come to a grinding halt, when you suddenly realize your businesses is in the midst of a slow period it is crucial that you don’t panic and become disheartened or worried. Rather, take it as a learning curve for you to build your character and your business by capitalizing on those slow times and use the extra time you now suddenly have to help boost your business for the better.

Touch Base with Old Clients

Whether it’s an email, a card or a meeting in person, taking the time to touch base with people you have dealt with in the past can be very rewarding. A simple email giving them some tips/advice/articles you think may be useful to them or even a greetings card thanking them for something they did, by getting in touch you show that you genuinely care about the relationship you had. This in the clients mind could make them remember how much they liked you, which could encourage them to hire you for something new or recommend you to others.

Write or Update your Business Plan

If you already have a business plan, then take the time to go through and do an audit. Go through, assess and update important areas such as whether your business goals are still the same? Has your market changed in some big way? And whether your circumstances have changed dramatically. If you didn’t create a business plan in the beginning (shame on you if you didn’t! 🙂 ) then take the time you now have to do one. They needn’t be a daunting document and there are many useful templates out there to help you and make it straight forward. StartUp Donut is a great place to start.

Take an Online Class or Join a Peer Group to Learn Something new to Expand Your Knowledge/Skill Set

Whether it’s joining an online class, seminar or signing up to a local peer group with fellow business owners, actively learning something new and gaining valuable life lessons and advice from others is a great way to boost your skillset and help you develop valuable knowledge and contacts that you can apply to your future efforts to help boost your business. If you want to know more about utilizing social media then sign up to an industry influencer seminar, or if you want to learn a new business skill then sign up for a course online. You will be thankful you did when you find yourself busy again and utilizing the newly learnt skill!

Audit and Refresh Your Website

Your website should portray you in the best light by looking professional, having up to date information, well placed calls to action and good quality SEO friendly content amongst a whole host of other important factors. Your website ultimately needs to work as hard as you do in terms of attracting future clients so it’s vital that you take the time to do a website audit and overhaul your website if it’s not portraying your business in the way you want it to.

Create a Marketing Schedule for the Weeks, Months or Year Ahead

When you have completed a clear, visual and well thought out plan for your marketing and promotional schedule (either weekly, monthly or yearly) it brings a great sense of accomplishment knowing that the crucial task of marketing your business is organized, working together and not to mention, for the most part, has already been done in advance as you will have done the hard part of creating promotions, tying them in with holidays and having your weekly content ideas etc., planned, organized and in place. You will be thankful that you have done this and had the time spare to do it well as when times start to get busy again you will inevitably not find the time to do it as you find your marketing efforts slip further down the to do list.

Create New Business Cards

In the same way that your website reflects who you are, so too does your business cards. So now is a great time to assess your cards and determine whether they simply need new updated information (inclusion of a new social media platform you have joined, or a change of phone number for example) or whether it is time to order new ones so they portray you in the best light and fit in with your business image. I highly recommend MOO.

Do Something Creative and Start an Exciting New Project

Have you ever wanting to write a short story or poem, get into painting or take that local cookery class you heard about? Whatever it is that gets you active, positive and gets those creative juices flowing, use the time you have available to you now to just do it! Not only is it great to do things you enjoy (as a starting a business can feel like it consumes your whole life) you may find the creative inspiration for something new in your business. Sometimes all it takes is a break from the everyday routine to give your mind and body a boost.

Create a Free Resource

Everyone loves a freebie, and creating a free resource that is valuable, informative and useful to your clients and target audience, is a great way to attract attention and boost engagement. Whether it’s a how to guide, a useful template or something else relevant to you, ensure you utilize it and maximize its investment by making people sign up to receive it or visit your website to download it. That way you not only help portray yourself as a valuable source of industry knowledge, but you also can help generate attention to your business.

Read a Book to Boost your Knowledge/Skill set

Whether it’s a book on business from an influential millionaire successful business owner or a straightforward book on how to utilize a particular social media channel, reading a book and empowering yourself with new knowledge is a great way to get inspired and learn a new skill or even mindset that can help you get positive and boost your business.

Host a Giveaway to Grab Attention

Hosting a giveaway is a surefire way to generate engagement and interest in your business. Whether it’s a free product, a free consultation or a gift voucher, make sure the prize is interesting, relevant and promoted well.

Organize Your Computer

The likelihood is that during your super busy times you have let things slip a bit on your desktop with documents here, there and everywhere with a distinct lack of organized structure. By completely refreshing and organizing your computer, including everything from having clear, logical and organized folders for your all documents, to only having relevant website bookmarks and removing all installed software that you no longer want or use, you will magically clear your computer and your mind allowing you to feel fresh, clear and focused.

Create Templates

Whether it’s a template showing you how to construct a powerful blog post, a written account of the workflow in the event of a new project/client, a reply email that you can personalize whenever a potential client emails you or a general report template, by creating templates that you can easily use and reference, you take the hassle out of these everyday tasks which frees up time for you to focus on other things for your business. Something you will be very thankful for when you become very busy again!

Check Your Google (and Social Media Platform) Analytics

Take the time to thoroughly assess your analytics for your website and social media platforms as you will learn a wealth of important information that can affect and dictate your marketing and general business strategy. Analytics are there to help you make your marketing more effective so make sure you thoroughly analyze your analytics and respond and adapt accordingly to what the information is showing you to ensure your website and platforms are effective as they can be moving forward.

Do a Social Media Audit

By conducting a thorough audit of your social media platforms you ensure they remain fresh, relevant and highly effective, helping maximize your ROI. From making sure your bios and descriptions are up to date, updating your logos, cover images, banners and backgrounds, to assessing what your competitors are doing on their pages and even revisiting and assessing your goals and objectives for each platforms, use your time to have a good look at your profiles to make sure they are reflective of the image you want to portray and are as effective as they can be.

Create Something Useful That You Can Sell

Similarly with creating a resource to give away for free, you can just as easily create one to sell. Whether it’s an eBook, a seminar or even a PowerPoint presentation, ensure you target your audience and fill your resource with valuable, informative and useful content and promote it well so that they can buy and benefit from it. Not only is this great in terms of helping develop yourself as an informed authority in your area, but it is also a great way to earn extra income which can be much needed when business is slow.

Research, Research, Research!

Thorough research is the foundation of a successful business. Whilst you may have undertaken some research in the very beginning of setting up your business, times changes and things develop and move forward so is it vital you stay updated to ensure you are maximizing your business and making sure you are staying competitive and effective. There are several key areas in which you need to be up to date on from what is happening in your industry, factors about your target audience, what your competitors are up to, the latest updates and techniques of the social media platforms you are on and any new upcoming news, trends and developments that could benefit your business.

Clean up your Emails

From client emails, new enquiries, to the newsletters you are subscribed to, your email inbox can quickly get out of control especially during hectic workdays. A quiet period however is the perfect time to go through and organize your mailbox, from creating organized and specific folders for important documents, certain jobs/clients etc. to unsubscribing from newsletters/mailing lists that you no longer want to read or be a part of. Clearing up your mailbox is a great way to refresh your mind and refocus. Not to mention you will feel a great relief in making sure everything in your mailbox is as organized as you can make it so you no longer have to trail through countless emails to find what you need.

Create an Email Campaign

Email campaigns, if done right, are a great way to boost attention. You will have no doubt worked hard to accumulate contacts and developed your email list so utilize and delight your contacts with a valuable and interesting email. For added affect you can use the free resource or giveaway I suggested earlier as bait.

Volunteer

Volunteering is not only a great way to help the charity or business you have chosen but keeping your mind working, busy and active is good for you too. You could have a change of scenery and volunteer in a completely different industry and line of work or if you want to volunteer your own services for free, consider giving your profile and business a bit of a boost by hosting a giveaway with your voluntary service as the prize.

Organize Your Home Life and Do That To Do List!

We all have the ever growing to-do list in our private lives. From painting the garage door, to redecorating the office and general DIY, all of these need to do tasks are always somewhere in the back of your mind. Therefore in the quiet period of your business, why not get them done? Whilst you may feel that painting the bedroom is not relevant and helping you get your business on track, you need to see the bigger picture to see the benefits. As not only is painting -or whatever task you do- allowing your mind to focus on something else other than the problems with your business, but by getting the job done and working through your to do list you clear them from your mind allowing you freely focus and dedicate time to other tasks.


What do you think? Do you have any tips or lessons you’d like to share?

What You Can Learn from These 3 Small Businesses Successfully Using Social Media

For most businesses, having a social media presence is now an essential element of a marketing strategy. Today’s online audiences are online to be informed, engaged and entertained by their favourite brands whilst ultimately expecting their voice to be heard and their needs listened to and met. It is up to you therefore to utilise this social media phenomenon and start reaping the rewards for your business from having a personable, valuable and engaging social media presence.

Whether you are a new business just starting out on social media or have already implemented your social media marketing plan, there is so much value to be gained in seeing examples of what other people and businesses are doing on social media and modelling their best practices. This article showcases three small businesses, that whilst all being in different industries and having different strategies, all display outstanding social media marketing efforts. So without further ado here are my top three small businesses successfully using social media and what you can learn from them.


Kim Garst

Kim Garst is a social media expert, successfully informing, influencing and engaging her audience through her small business social media firm, Boom Social. Kim is very active amongst several social media platforms and is a perfect example of someone who has developed a powerful social presence through providing excellent customer service, strong branding and regular, engaging, varied and tailored content that businesses and those looking to start on the entrepreneurial path are drawn to. This approach has established Kim as an renowned thought leader, with her impressive influence within the industry testimony to that.

Kim’s approach to communicating with her audience is definitely one to admire. She really puts the social in social media and takes the time to respond to every social media interaction on her Facebook and Twitter. Whether it is thanking someone for sharing her article, sharing good advice or sharing the many business and social media tips, quotes and motivational pieces she has, she is always active and always listening to her audience, resulting in a presence that not only demonstrates her successful approach to becoming a well trusted, well informed and personable industry influencer but also by providing real-time, socially connected customer service, she is able to create more trust and credibility with her audience.

Another area in which Kim excels is her impressive visual branding, successfully creating a consistent look and feel across her website and all of her social media profiles. Kim makes sure that her advice, quotes, tips and other motivational sayings are delivered on good, high quality branded photos and by combing this approach with another one of her triumphs, that is her impressive use of relevant hashtags on Twitter, such as #socialmedia, #BizTip and #SocialMediaMarketing she is able to ensure that her branded messages target and reach others beyond her immediate circle, making it easy for people searching certain kinds of content to find her.

Ultimately it’s no surprise Kim is a social media expert, she demonstrates her expertise, personality and outstanding customer service skills to businesses worldwide by simply sharing engaging resources and advice through her website and social media platforms and ultimately listening to and engaging with her fans. It’s such a simple strategy but is the very foundation of a successful social media presence.

Key Takeaways

  •     Ensure you humanise your brand by being genuine, honest and authentic in order to create truly personal and meaningful connections.
  •     Aim to become a thought leader in your industry through actively sharing useful resources and tips with your fans.
  •     Maintain a consistent strong branding throughout all of your online presence.
  •     Utilise Hashtags to reach new audiences.
  •     Dedicate time and resources to listening to and engaging with your fans and make demonstrating your excellent customer service skills a priority.

Brew Dog

BrewDog is a brewery in Scotland using social media to ‘Push limits and challenge conventions with award winning craft beer’. Along the way they are gaining a reputation for courting controversy but at the same time offering a bold, provocative, irreverent and most of all highly impactful and successful approach to social media marketing.

Whilst causing controversy or offence is not for the average content marketer, BrewDog not only gets away with it, but revels in it, due to their complete self-confidence in their philosophy and a no qualms attitude towards telling everyone about it. At the very basic level this shows a great case study of a business with a strong brand ethic, something which should be admired.

Having a strong philosophy (that is, their love of beer and challenging the conventional big breweries) instantly makes every post and status update crafted in a purposeful way and directed towards a goal and BrewDog is testament to this end. With cleverly produced and humorous videos, stunts such as driving a tank through the streets of London, projections onto the British House of Parliament and serving beer out of dead animals, they court controversy, divide opinion and importantly attract publicity and attention for themselves whilst perfectly demonstrating with their edgy, out there image that earns them a very targeted and loyal following.

In the midst of the controversy, BrewDog however is testament of a brand with an excellent social and collaborate strategy, in that they strive to involve their customers is every aspect of their journey. From asking for suggestions for wording on their new labelling, engaging their audience through regular questions on Facebook and Twitter, right through to their brilliantly successful crowd funding venture, they genuinely show they care about their audience and are interested in involving them in the business and listening to their thought and opinions.

Another area in which BrewDog excel is through their ability to successfully capitalise on up-coming events and trends, cleverly ensuring they secure coverage and attention for themselves while continuing to show their personality and appease their loyal following who are expecting these bold, clever and out there antics. Their ‘Hello, my name is Vladimir’, a ‘not for gays’ beer in protest at Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws, launched to coincide with the Winter Olympics in Sochi, is a great example of their excellent use of capitalising on a worldwide event. Whilst this controversial approach divides opinion, it ultimately garners them a lot attention which is crucial for small businesses in terms of brand awareness and keeping their brand in front and centre of their target audience’s minds. After all, without this provocative marketing approach BrewDog may not have had such a large impact in a crowded marketplace.

Ultimately, BrewDog have remained true to their philosophy, personality and attitude and this has simply been transferred to their marketing efforts. Through varied, regular and interesting blog posts, to clever and humorous videos to boost viral reach, right through to the two founders being active throughout their social media profiles which helps humanise the brand and show personality, it’s hard to find fault with a brand that is confident, consistent and clever in their approach no matter who it might offend.

Key Takeaways

  •     Be provocative, but only where it suits your brand.
  •     Make strategic use of relevant national or world trends and events to attract attention and grow your fan base.
  •     Be true to your strong brand ethic and recognise the importance of continuing conversation whether or not your brand or your approach is particularly liked.
  •     Put your customers at the forefront of your marketing, always listen to, learn from and encourage and engage your audience.

Daylesford Farm

Daylesford Farm is an organic farm in Gloucestershire with farmshops and cafes in London. Daylesford Farm is excelling in their social media efforts as they clearly understand the importance of sharing quality content and engaging with their audience and as such have brought the social and collaborative experience to the forefront of their marketing efforts.

Where Daylesford Farm truly excels is within their use of content and engagement strategies. Throughout all their social media channels Daylesford Farm place emphasis on providing valuable, targeted and engaging content fine-tuned to appeal to and capture their audience’s interest and attention. Every tweet, retweet, post and status update is shared with a purpose in mind, so whether it’s offering seasonal recipes to try, great tips, facts, competitions, testimonials, articles promoting sustainability in food and farming, humanising the business through showing the faces behind the brand or news and updates relating to their cookery school, farm shop, cafe and other activities, they ensure that each post is purposeful, informative and useful to their audience. In doing so, Daylesford Farm has given their social media followers lots of reasons to engage with and revisit their profiles and this is reflected in the high engagement and sharing levels of their updates.Importantly amongst their efforts they also cross promote each piece of content across their social media platforms and demonstrate well their impressive understanding of the need to tailor the content for each different platform. The result of which means that they attract and form a relevant, captive audience that regularly comes to their social media platforms to interact and be informed and entertained.

Daylesford Farm have also cleverly integrated social media into almost every aspect of their website. From the often overlooked but crucial clear placement of social media icons across all pages of their website, to utilising social media widgets on their website and the online shop where social media icons are clearly displayed for you to share the product, it is clear that Daylesford Farm is projecting themselves as a social brand. The key benefit here is that in doing so they have created this very social experience for the visitor, making it easy to connect socially and for the most part, you don’t have to leave the website to do so, which encourages viewers to stay on the website for longer, allowing Daylesford Farm to effectively increase their fan/follower base from their website.

Ultimately Daylesford farm clearly understand and demonstrate well how to get the best out of each social media platform. They tailor content well, provide excellent customer service and importantly provide varied, consistent and engaging content that regularly keeps their audience coming back for more.

Key Takeaways

  •  Ensure every post you create is designed with a purpose and your target audience in mind. Whether it’s to inform, entertain, educate or engage, make everything that goes into your post (tone, pictures, links etc.) work towards and compliment your overall purpose for the post.
  •  Make sure that on your website you provide the visitor with lots of opportunities to connect with you socially. You can do this by clearly displaying your social media icons on your website pages and utilising any website social widgets that can enhance your marketing efforts.
  • Provide fans with reasons to keep returning to your social media profiles by offering valuable content, competitions, industry insights, informative resources and anything else your target audience will find interesting.
  • Differentiate and tailor your social media strategy to match the platform you are using.

What are your thoughts? Who are your favourite brands successfully using social media?

Confessions of an Entrepreneur: The Things They Don’t Tell You About Owning a Small Business!

Running a small business can be an incredibly rewarding journey. Nothing beats the feeling when you’re a new start-up with a great idea and a fire in your belly that makes you feel you are all set to conquer the world! Whilst there are many hurdles you will face initially from getting a solid business plan in place to working out how to reach the market on a boot-strapped budget, there are some things you only find out once you’re on the go.

I didn’t choose entrepreneurship. I never had a sudden flash of Alan Sugar esk inspiration with big dreams of being very important with many leather-bound books and an apartment that smells of rich mahogany. In actual-fact, I was mid-way through a University Course, well on my way to chasing dreams of being a University Lecturer, when, in the midst of a quiet patch, I helped get the family business on board the relatively new social media sphere and developed quite a fondness for networking and connecting online! I finished the University course to have a degree under my belt and on the day I left University I founded my social media marketing business. And the rest they say, is history.

I never went to business school, never got an experienced business mentor to take me under his wing, not even a quick look through one of those Guides for Dummies Books – no, my stubborn nature gave me the mindset that I will learn about building and marketing a business while building and marketing a business. And that’s exactly what I did, learning each of these following things the hard way.


Your Family and Friends Won’t Get it

If I had a pound for everyone who has told me to quit what I’m doing or go and get a real job… I wouldn’t have spent today training, crafting content and chasing invoices. Rather, I would have spent it on a Yacht in Barbados having my sun tan cream massaged in by Tom Hardy.

When you have your own business it’s more than likely some if not all of the following have happened; Your dad will think you made a mistake and constantly remind you of it, your best friend will not stop bringing up statistics of failing UK businesses they’ve seen on “Can’t Pay We’ll Take it Away” on Channel 5. And quite frankly the rest your family will never actually understand what you do and/or even care, in fact, they will all still be sulking at the fact that they can no longer put you in a ‘box’ when people ask what you do for a living. But listen, so what at the end of the day. You should be proud of yourself as most people daydream that they had the guts to go out into the unknown and start their own business, but you actually did it. Whether your business succeeds or fails, you should be so pleased with yourself as most people don’t have the stomach to ride the roller coaster that is running your own business!


Everyone Will Have an Opinion, but You Don’t Have to Take it.

I have my own way of doing things and I’m sure many others will have their opinions about it and prefer to do things a different way. But I have specific ways of doing things for a reason, because I want to do it that way. Whilst I am open to advice and modifying my routine should a better opportunity present itself, I never take someone’s advice that I don’t agree with just to be nice or because they think they know better.  No one knows you better than yourself, so if you have a way of doing things that means you do the best job you can for your clients then stick to it. Everyone will have some advice for you just like when you decide to buy your first car, or when you buy a house or have a baby, you’ll find that when you start a business that everyone’s suddenly an expert. Take all of this ‘advice’ with a pinch of salt. Advice from anyone other than someone who does in fact run a successful business is just that: advice.


Not Everyone Will Want to Work With You… But That’s Fine

You will always get someone who no matter how much time, energy and evidence you present, they will just not ‘get’ what you’re offering or simply want to go with another person that’s cheaper, a different gender or less/more [Insert your own adjective here]. But that’s fine, because there will always be those who do want your help. You can waste a lot of your own time trying to convince someone or you can instead learn when is the time to stop and instead direct your time into connecting with people who are serious about using your services. It’s also important to note that being your own boss also grants you the benefit of being able to choose who YOU work with. Gut instinct say no when you meet? Then don’t work with them. Just don’t fancy the job? Then don’t take it. I’ve had many a time where I’ve turned down work because I don’t like the MD, don’t like the business ethos or simply don’t have the time to do the work well. And you know what, that’s fine. Because I said it is!


You Need to Get Over Being Modest (Well, When You Are First Starting up!)

Owning your own business means it is up to you to be proactive to get the money coming in. Therefore, you need to really market yourself in the beginning to get the initial interest of prospective clients in your business. This means getting over your fears of talking about yourself in front of people, sending sales emails and – dare I say it! – picking up the phone and calling folk! Without fail, if you believe you are the best thing since sliced bread for the business you are pitching too, then you need to speak confidently about yourself and your business and really try to sell yourself to give them a compelling reason to choose you over your competitors. I personally hate talking on the phone, and wouldn’t even dream to cold call, but when I see that phone ringing and know it may be a potential customer, you can bet your bottom dollar I answer because if I don’t then they will just hang up and call a competitor instead.

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You Will be Surprised by the People Who are Willing to Help you…or Not Help You

Forming and developing a business is a daunting, disheartening, stressful task but there can be on hand lots of helpful advice in the form of friends, family, online forums or other personal networks, so you don’t have to go it alone. Work on the philosophy that someone can’t help if they don’t know what the problem is, so always ask if you need help. Especially when it comes to financial help, pride soon goes way out the window if you are a cash strapped business… yes it’s embarrassing, yes you will feel like crap for asking, but you have to think what the alternative is if you don’t. Asking your parents/friend or other family remember for a loan suddenly doesn’t seem as bad as being out on your arse on the streets if you couldn’t make the rent! Trust me, everyone has to have help some time or another whether you are 20 years in business or 2 minutes. I’ve had to beg, borrow (never stole of course!) to keep my business going at times. You may well find however that those you wanted to help you won’t or those you never thought of asking do help, either way learn from those surprises and use those lessons to guide your future requests for assistance.


You Really Need to Follow up With Everyone you Meet

This one is a valuable lesson! It is one thing to meet a person and ask for their card but it’s another thing to actually follow-up with that person. Always, and I mean always, make it a point to follow-up with everyone you meet and drive new connections and networks, if you take someone’s card and do not take the time to follow-up with them then your networking effort is completely lost. Networking is so important for new businesses to drive growth, so make sure you are taking advantage of all the connections you meet. I’m not saying ring them up straight-away and unleash your sales spiel. After a day or so, say something as simple as “Hi [Insert Name], it was really lovely to meet you at [Insert venue/function you met at] the other day. I’d love to speak to you over coffee about some of the things we spoke about [Insert more detail as needed]. Let me know when is best for you. Kind regards have a lovely week, [Insert Name]. The benefits of this are three-fold – 1. It shows you are a professional that is serious about connecting, 2. It sets you apart from competitors and 3. It just may lead to some business for you.


No Matter What They Say, Always Lower Your Offering and Not Your Rates.

When you’re starting out you’re probably going to have to do some work that is below your pay grade to get experience and initial testimonials. However after you’ve established yourself and understand your rate within the industry, stick to it. If you have a client that questions your proposal, don’t lower your rates, simply lower your offering. If they don’t want to pay what you charge then simply ask, “OK, what don’t you want to do?” which just lowers the number of services you’ll provide and not your rate.

To be hypocritical for a second here, I’m the biggest softy when it comes to businesses I want to work with and will always accommodate budgets and go the extra mile if I genuinely love the people in the business. It’s not uncommon for me to work to a lower budget for a genuine business. However ‘genuine’ is the key factor here as there are many and I mean loads of people out there who are ruthless and just after paying peanuts for work, it is through time and experience that you will learn to tell these types from a mile away. Stay strong and don’t be bullied by their tactics. Remember it’s up to you to take on the work or not and if you don’t feel comfortable then give it a miss. Chances are if they are after the moon on a stick for next to nothing, they are not going to be a particularly nice client to work with anyway. So save yourself the hassle and just say no thank you!


You Don’t Have to Take on Every Job

You might feel, especially at the beginning, that you have to take on anything and everything that comes your way to establish yourself and get some much-needed income. Don’t be tempted to do this as this way of working will only come round and bite you on the bum later – whether that be in the form of an angry spouse asking why you are never home as you’ve taken on so much work or a company chasing bills that you haven’t paid as you have taken on too much work for so little money. The best advice here is to be clear that as you are building a brand, you need to make sure that you only take on work that aligns with your brand values and the image you want to create for your business. For instance, in my case I love start-ups and small/micro business and can’t stand large faceless corporations. As such, I only take on work from those smaller ones. I will never be rich as they don’t have huge budgets, but I will be happy with the work I’m doing and that is ultimately what it’s all about. Yes, I could double my income by working with large businesses but I would be unhappy, and in that instance I’ve always said I would be better off going being unhappy in a ‘regular’ job somewhere – where it’s 9-5 and I’m guaranteed a regular income!

The main point here is that you are allowed to turn jobs down. There’s no doubt that along the way it will be tough and sometimes an opportunity may present itself that may not be what you want to do, and as tempting as it might be to grab the opportunity, be it through someone’s suggestion or your own financial worry, this is when you need to be balanced in your focus. Being too scattered and grabbing whatever work comes your way can compromise your reputation, focus and your passion. Ultimately, your work has to sit well with your core values, not significantly infringe on other work enough to interfere with quality, and it must never negatively impact on your personal life. Easier said than done I know!

Don’t be disheartened by turning down work or thinking you will be suddenly blacklisted from that client. Instead turn yourself into a helpful pillar of the business community by recommending one of your peers or a trusted source who you know can do the work. Everyone’s a winner in that scenario!


The Incredible Highs and Lows

This was the biggest surprise for me. You expect tough times and you expect happier times too, but no one ever tells you exactly how intense the emotional roller coaster of owning a business can be. You can often find yourself at the extreme ends of the emotional scale, from being so happy you are fit to burst, to feeling so miserable that you can’t possibly see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We’ve all been there unfortunately, my worst times have seen me hooked up to a heart monitor in hospital with stress, my whole life savings dwindled as not one client paid their invoices on time for many months, right through to happier times such as when I published my book, to landing an amazing client that I love, to having all aforementioned clients suddenly pay their overdue invoices on the same day. I had that much money go in my bank that day, I actually had a call from Barclays asking what the fuck was going on and if I would like to see my investment opportunities!

The key thing here is having a strong support network behind you who you can turn to during these emotional extremes. Be it your partner, another business owner you talk to or your friend group. Just please don’t keep it bottled up when you are going through the bad times as that can lead to mental illness issues that are difficult to get out of. So if you have no one to turn to or talk to then talk to me, my inbox is always open and I will ALWAYS get back to you hello@scarlettdarbyshireuk.com.

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You Will Have to Work. Hard.

Showing up to work is not enough. There really are no shortcuts, no one-size fits all master plan for world domination. You will need to put in the hard graft yourself to see results. Unpredictable hours, unforeseen circumstances, nightmare clients, chasing invoices and no sales for months, these are all contributing factors that make running your own business a very hard job indeed. You will have to be the owner of many ‘hats’ – HR Hat, Accountant Hat, Problem Solver Hat, not to mention your actual Job Title Hat! You will have to be everyone and everything to get your business running smoothly.

The key is to be prepared for this stress and hardship by having a realistic plan in mind to make sure you’re ready to deal with any eventuality. But just like the old boxing quote “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face,” after the first year into your business I bet you a tenner you will feel like you’ve gone twelve rounds with Mike Tyson. Leaving you asking “what the bloody hell happened?” The answer to this my friend is, nothing happened, it’s called owning your own business.

Don’t be disheartened If things don’t go to plan for you, every business operates under different circumstances. The plan that made your competitor a roaring success might not work for you, you just have to find your own path to success. The only worthwhile advice here is to say live in your potential customers’ heads as this is the key to success. Learn their wants, needs and tailor your marketing and indeed business ethos around making them believe your product/service is simply one they can’t live without it! Keep it in your mind that just because you have started out a business with what you think is a brilliant product/service, no one owes you their money or attention. It’s up to you to show them why you are worth it!


It’s Completely Normal to Change Direction

The business you start with might not necessarily be the one you end up with and that’s perfectly acceptable, common even. You are allowed to change your mind. It may sound like something from a David Attenborough series, but you need to see your business as a living entity that molds and adapts to the environment to ensure its own survival. In the beginning if you’re smart you will have done a business plan, the wonderful, reassuring bit of paper that shows the journey your business will take. But lets face it, it’s hard to know what it’s really like to work in the industry until you’re slap bang in the middle of it and running a business. It’s right there and then when you soon learn what you need to change. Sometimes the answer is not much and sometimes the answer is almost everything. But at least you know then and you can act on the information in front of you to make your business better. So don’t spend too much time worrying about that first logo or holding off a launch until the stationary is just right, you can change these things at any point and it really is no biggie.


Everything is Your Problem

Fairly obvious but it still doesn’t make it any less important to know that when shit hits the fan in any aspect of your business, it is up to you to deal with. Whether it’s something you never saw coming or something you had an incline towards happening but just hoped for the best that it didn’t. There’s no preparing you for this added stress, especially if you have come straight from paid employment where any big problem that’s arisen in the work place was met with you slyly backing away muttering “not my problem, not paid enough to deal with that.”

Even if you don’t have a document with written specifications on what to do, make sure you have a rough idea of where to go for help and advice if something does go a bit wrong. Better safe than sorry as they say.

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It Will Take Longer Than You Think

We’ve all seen the documentaries highlighting the overnight success stories and most of us convince ourselves that’s going to be us. But the truth is being an ‘overnight success’ is one of two things;

  1. Luck – yes the stars aligned and it actually was an overnight success.
  2. 99% of the time an overnight success is actually made from “over ‘many’ night” success! Where for months or years they wanted to quit, doubted themselves but kept going and going until one day everything clicked and someone says wow you’re an overnight success!

Sometimes you may think that there is just never going to be an end to the countless things on your business to do list before you make it, the important thing is to keep at it, stay consistent and continue to do your best work on every job and you will be rewarded. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not a resounding success after two weeks, two months or even two years… you will get there, but you have to be patient. (That is such a clique and always gets a roll of the eyes … but its true!)


My God it’s Unpredictable

Being in business is an unpredictable thing, there will be times where you have no clue whether you’re coming or going… never knowing what’s going to happen next. A bit like when all those people are on that boat in Willy Wonka (Yes, as the business owner you are the slightly weird captain of this crazy boat). But listen, channel your inner Buddha and realize that there are just some things that are out of your control. You can have a plan for every little thing but sometimes things happen that you never saw coming. Deal with it by learning to grow a thick skin and take a “roll with the punches” kind of attitude. Being a cool, laid back and adaptable individual means that when a problem happens instead of screaming and thinking it’s the end of the world, you will instead take a deep breath and say right shit happens, how can I fix it.


You Will Constantly Doubt Yourself

Ask any business owner “how’s business?” and you’ll usually get the same answer, “it’s great thanks!” Pre-business ownership, I simply thought oh great that’s wonderful for you! But now I’m more wise and a business owner myself, I hear this answer and I take it to mean anything from “things are actually pretty good”, “They are not great but I’m ashamed to really say that”, right through to “I don’t really know if I’ll be open next month.”

Whether you want to avoid a conversation about it, are ashamed by what you think are your failures or you are in a mental rut, it’s much easier to tell your friends and family that “things are going well” rather than tell the truth that you just barely made enough money last month to pay your bills.

Externally to people, they will see you have the fancy phone and the snazzy suit and an aura of super confidence about you, but what they don’t know is that on the inside you are constantly shitting a brick and always having the nagging doubt in your mind that’s asking “do I really know what I’m doing?” It always hits me when I see a post on social media that’s really clever and I think damn why didn’t I think of that. That small niggle is then enough to open the floodgates to doubting anything and everything else in my business.

I’m getting better with it now though as I’ve convinced myself that doubting yourself is healthy in business as it keeps you on your toes and ensures that you never get too complacent about yourself or your business… nagging doubt forces you to up your game as it where, which is a great thing for your business!


It has been a bit of a warts ‘n’ all list, but lets face it, despite all of the above, all you small business owners know you wouldn’t give this up for the world!

Seriously, despite all the realities of small business ownership, the pay-offs of working for yourself are incredible!

When you are self-employed I swear it’s like magic. Yes there’s no boss to blame when shit hits the fan, but there’s also no boss to hold you back from creating this wonderful business on your own terms. That feeling when someone loves something you have created that much they are willing to part with their hard-earned cash to own it, gives you a validation like no other.

You get to do every part of the business how you want to and it’s a giddy feeling to comprehend the idea that you make up your own rules. You get to be YOU every day! Want to take a day off mid-week to go to the lakes to avoid the weekend queues, you can do it! Can’t be arsed to work today – do it and catch up later! Want to have a garish bright orange chicken as your business logo -do it! No one is going to say no to you… because you make the rules in your business!

If you can take the plunge into small business ownership, then I say do it. Life’s too short so grab the opportunity with both hands!

My top tip would just be to have a nice bit of cash to fall back on in your first year, as nothing stifles creativity and decision-making when you are worried about the bills! But other than that, you go do your thing.


Are you are small business owner? Tell me what you think and share your tips and experiences!

‘‘Facts Tell but Stories Sell’’ Why You Should Use Social Media to Tell Your Brand Story

In the fast-paced, digital world in which we now live, how businesses successfully attract and keep the attention of customers is undergoing a shift. In all the endless amounts of information that is seen and shared across the internet every day one of the most successful ways to break through the information and have yourself heard is to harness the power of storytelling in your content marketing. By sharing your authentic and inspirational brand stories through conversations with clients, colleagues, customers and friends you instantly captivate and form a personal connection with them by encouraging them to become emotionally involved. It is in doing so that you harness the ability to shape and affect the personal and business lives of those who are listening to your stories in very big and real ways.

Sharing stories from your company founders, to your business morals and values, your business highs and lows and why you even do what you do sets the scene for a social relationship with your online audience and provides authenticity to your brand by showing there exists a real human behind your real business. Each small blog post, status update, photo, or video provides your audience with a small piece of your business puzzle that make up the elements of your story. As those pieces all fit together they give your customers the wider picture and put your business into context, helping them to better understand who you are, what you do, and ultimately tells them why they should care about you.

Thus why in a world where the consumer is now in control of what they view, share and on which platforms, you have to earn their attention by combining the power of storytelling with a platform that allows you to connect and share your story with your customers and encourage them to share those stories with others. The platform perfectly suited for this is of course social media.

Here are a few links to help get you inspired and help you to share your brand stories;

  • Click Here for 83 Engaging Ideas For Your Social Media Content!

Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan [The Ultimate Checklist]

‘If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’

Whilst Benjamin Franklin wasn’t speaking to the owner of a local cupcake company looking to start a Facebook page when he said those words, they still ring true when it comes to a business starting out on social media. Just as you wouldn’t set up a business without a business plan, you can’t just jump straight into social media, start aimlessly posting and expect the customers to come rolling in. Rather, you have to sit down, grab a cup of coffee and develop a clear social media strategy. While there’s no one-size fits all solution, you can find social media success if you’re armed with the right questions to get you started. After all, a plan equals focus and focus is what is going to drive your business forward online.


What Objectives do I Want my Business to Achieve by Using Social Media?

Whether you want to use your social media presence to gain exposure for your brand, directly educate and interact with your customers, promote specific products and services or all of the above, clearly identifying your objectives is the critical first step towards a successful social media presence. Identifying your objectives in the beginning ensures a multitude of critical elements of your social media marketing, it allows you to effectively tailor your content and posting schedule, provide value to your customers, right through to helping you accurately measure your success as you will be aware of the most appropriate metrics to track efficiently.

Common Social Media Objectives

  • Build Brand Awareness
  • Drive Traffic to Website
  • Provide Customer Service
  • Engage with Fans
  • Establish Thought Leadership
  • Launch New Products or Services
  • Generate Leads and Increase Sales
  • Research and Insights
  • Build Your Community
  • Improve SEO
  • Competitive Analysis

What is the State of My Current Social Media Use?

If you are already present on social media, you need to take a good hard look at your content from the eyes of a new (or potential) fan or follower. There is a whole host of important questions you need to ask yourself when you look through your online presence. Here’s a few taken from the checklist I use when I conduct a Social Media Audit;

  • Assess their presence: has it been thought through? Profile/cover photo/about section completed, effective and branded?
  • Can potential followers immediately get a sense of company culture, products and services on offer?
  • Content: How does their content support their strategy? What content receives the most clicks, likes and shares? Are they sharing engaging content? Do they encourage engagement? Offer something valuable/useful? How often is it updated? Are they engaging back with fans? Do they use hashtags effectively? How do they use images to tell the company story?
  • How are the individual platforms being used to drive traffic to the main web presence? Is it clear what the next step is that they want fans/followers to take? Call to actions in tweets/pins/posts?
  • Record numbers of followers and following – are they both relevant and targeted audience?
  • When the last time was their Twitter / Facebook/Pinterest etc. presence was updated?
  • What feedback do they get from followers?

Who are My Target Audience?

Determining the audience that you want to reach and engage with on social media is fundamental to your strategy.  Whether your target audience is your current or potential clients or customers, affiliate businesses, thought leaders or all four, your aim is to create a successful social media strategy that matches and is tailored towards understanding and acting on your target audience’s behaviours online. Creating Buyer personas helps you define and target the right people, in the right places, at the right times with the right messages. When you learn important factors about your target audience from their age, job status, income, interests, problems, to their likes, dislikes, motivations, where they spend their time online and in what format they like to digest their content online then it becomes easier to target them on social media. The key is to remember that the more specific you are the more successful and targeted you are going to be with your social media strategy that will bring real results and conversions for your business.


What Platforms am I Going to use for my Business?

What platforms you choose to use will ultimately depend on where your customers are and which ones are best suited for your business. Spend the time researching where your current customers are online and what platforms can be best utilised with your resources and business. The key is to not spread yourself too thinly across lots of social media platforms just because you think this will gain your business more exposure, rather it is much more effective to run a handful of platforms consistently and efficiently and to spend the time reviewing the platforms you are on to make sure they are as effective as they can be. You should also keep up to date with research into new technologies and platforms that your business could potentially utilise in the future.

Selecting the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

Each social media platforms is unique, with its own best practices, style, and audience. The key to choosing the right social media platforms relies on you having a clear understanding of your objectives for social media, your target audience and what resources/ information you have to share. Simply put, choose the ones that best fit your strategy and the goals you want to achieve on social media. You don’t have to be on them all—just the ones that matter to you and your audience.

To help you decide the best platform, ultimately ask yourself these questions;

  • Purpose – What information do you want to share with and communicate to your audience?
  • Format – In what format is the best way to present this information? Videos, Podcasts, extended pieces of writing etc.
  • Platform – Which social media platform will allow me to share this message best and which platform has the correct audience that I want to reach?
  • Time – How much time can I devote to a social network? Aim for at least an hour per day per social network. Once you get going, tools like Buffer can help you effectively manage your time.
  • Resources – What personnel and skills do you have to work with? Visual social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram require good quality images. Social platforms like blogging emphasize quality content. Do you have the resources to create what’s needed?
  • Audience – Where do your potential customers hang out? Which social network has the right demographics for you?

Have I Done my Research?

A successful social media presence is always aided by a good, solid foundation of prior research. You should look to do initial research into key areas such as your competitor’s social media, your target audience demographics, the latest trends and news in social media, marketing and business as well as many others. Conducting research and paying attention to changes in your industry and audience for example should also be a regular and active occurrence as things, especially social media, evolve and change so you need to keep up to date to ensure your strategy is as relevant and effective as possible.

  • Market Research – Who is your target audience? How do they behave on social media? Where are they online?
  • Competitors – Which platforms are your competitors using? Are they directly engaging with prospects online? What are they good at online? In which areas could they improve? Can you get case studies? (Both successful and unsuccessful examples?)
  • Latest Business and Social Media News, Trends and Techniques – Do you know the latest techniques on your social media platforms that are effective? What is changing in social media and/or business that could affect your marketing?

Am I Clear on My Marketing Voice and Tone?

The temptation at this point might be to jump right in and start sharing. Before you do however, it is crucial to cultivate a voice and tone of your marketing that effectively encompasses your brand.

To help you with this, start with questions like these:

  • If your brand was a person, what kind of personality would it have?
  • If your brand was a person, what’s their relationship to the consumer? (A trainer, friend, family member etc.)
  • What do you want your customers to think about your company?
  • Describe what your company’s personality is not
  • Are there any companies that have a similar personality to yours? Why are they similar?

Who is Going to set up and Maintain my Businesses Social Media Platforms?

In the beginning you will need to decide who will implement and maintain your social media accounts. Whether you want to run them in-house or hire a social-media marketing manager or firm, you need to ensure that the person who is in charge of your platforms can effectively represent your brand and has the know-how to create and maintain a successful social media presence. That person is going to ultimately control how your business is presented to others in the online world so you need to be absolutely confident that they are the right person for you and your business.


Have I Chosen My Core Topics?

The key to a successful content strategy is finding the core topics you want your business to be known for and the topics that attract and keep the attention of fans and followers. What topics or categories best represent your company? For most this is a combination of 3 areas,

  • Your Passion – the topic you are passionate and love to talk about
  • Your Assets – the topic you’re known for and skilled and trained in
  • Market Reality – is there a demand on social media for the type of content you are offering?

What Resources/ Content do I Have at my Disposal? 

Each social media platform has a certain type of content that is best suited towards it, for example Pinterest is inherently visual and as such requires good-quality and memorable images to be effective. From this, you need to understand what type of content that the platforms you are using is most effective and importantly what content resonates best with your audience. Once you are clear on both these aspects, you will be able to form an effective content strategy with maximised effectiveness. It is important that you share with your audience a diverse and interesting mix of content types that encourages engagement so you need to think about the types of questions you will ask, updates you will share and ultimately what resources you have that you can utilise and repurpose for your social media platforms.


What Should I be Posting?

A quick glance through any social media article, research and blog post will show an emphasis and push towards sharing visual content. This trend towards the visual has plenty of anecdotal evidence too, with it being a widely known fact that image posts get more views, clicks, re-shares, and likes than any other type of post. On Facebook, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links than text-based posts. Similarly for Twitter, in a study of over two million tweets from verified users across a number of different industries, Twitter found that photos have the greatest effect on retweets. Photos average a 35% boost in Retweets with Videos getting a 28% boost. What does this mean for your business? Simple. You must prioritise producing good quality visuals in your social media content strategy.

So now we have established that you need to incorporate the visual into your content strategy. It’s time to take a look at what elements should make up your other content. There are hundreds of rules, strategies and theories on the best way and most effective ways to structure your content, the most used and most simple but effective strategy I use is the 70:20:10 rule.

The 70:20:10 rule

As a general rule of thumb, the rule states;

  • 70% of posts should add value and be brand and business building, stuff that your followers will find interesting, valuable and insightful and that supports who you are as a company.
  • 20% should share ideas or content from other sources e.g. blogs, digital PR, websites, other social media channels etc.
  • 10% should be self- promotional – your offers, discounts, marketing and promotional, sales etc.

21 Quick-Fire Example Content Ideas

  • Business Tips: People love to hear valuable business tips.
  • Humour/Relatable: Whether it’s a funny meme or something funny that’s happened in your life or your business, share it.
  • Inspiration/Motivation: Inspiration is the number one most shared type of content across every social media platform.
  • Open-Ended Questions: People love to talk and they love to answer questions.
  • Offers and Deals: Did you know that getting deals is still the number one reason that people like brands on Facebook? We all love a good deal.
  • Behind the Scenes/Sneak Peeks: People love to feel like they’re a part of what’s happening in your business.
  • Opinions: You can give yours and/or simply ask for theirs. People love to give their feedback and feel like their voice is being heard.
  • Industry News: There’s a huge value proposition in this. Firstly, you are educating your community on things that are happening in your space or in your niche. Secondly, doing this routinely will help you become an industry news or thought leader.
  • Fill in the Blanks: It’s an alternative way to phrase a question and the best ones only require a one or two-word answer, which makes it easier for your fans and followers to answer and engage with.
  • Strike Up a Conversation: Take the time to strike up a conversation. It’s a great way to build relationships.
  • Testimonials: Let people know that other people value your services or your products.
  • Open Q&A’s: Are a great way to provide value and get some real-time engagement with your followers.
  • Polls: You can use a poll for a number of different things like collecting opinions and/or ideas. Polls are a great engagement tool, but it’s also a great way to get great information.
  • Caption a Photo: Asking your fans and followers to caption a photo normally elicits good engagement.
  • Make Predictions: People love predictions. They want to know what you think.
  • Crowd Source Ideas: Ask other people for ideas. Whether you’re getting ready to do a new product or anything of that nature…ask!
  • Highlight Your Customers: Let your social media followers know that you value them. It’s important.
  • Tech Tips or Tools: People love tools and they love tech tips.
  • Advice: if you have some great advice and you feel like its valuable then share it.
  • Share Video or Audio Clips: In some cases video and audio posts are more impactful than a simple text based or image post.
  • ASK!: Ask your followers what content they want to see.

What is my Publishing Schedule?

Whilst it is wonderfully easy for you to be told from a social media expert that you should post 2 Facebook posts a day, 10 Tweets and 2 Blog posts a week for example, the ironclad and definitive answer to the questions ‘What, When and How often should I post?’ is simple: It depends. Everything about the social media experience is about your individual audience and niche. What works for you might not work for me… the important thing is that you experiment and learn what does work for you.

Your publishing schedule is going to be ultimately dictated by three things, your business capabilities, the platform you’re using and your audience needs. In the beginning you will need to experiment to find a publishing schedule that works best for your business, goals and readers and is the perfect balance of what you want and what your audience wants. Part of this consideration is also understanding the nature of the platform you’re using to publish and whether it is one such as Twitter that favours several short updates per day or Facebook where posting 7+ times a week is effective. Ultimately, when you are creating a publishing schedule you need to ask yourself, Can you keep this schedule consistently? Can you always publish high-quality content at this rate? And will you have enough content for this schedule? Once you’ve discovered the most effective schedule for you, being consistent with your publishing schedule has the benefit of increasing SEO value, maximising value and engagement from readers and encourages readers to come back regularly for more.

How Often Should you be Posting?

As you have come to realise, everything about a business social media experience is unique to you. There is no one size fits all approach to what content to post, just like there is not one for about how often to post to social media either. Some of the factors that will impact your specific sharing frequency may include your industry, your reach, your resources, the quality of your updates and the social network you’re using. The best way to discover the ideal posting frequency is by looking at your own analytics and several tools available in the market, these are a great way to show you the best time of day to post on your social media platforms, how often and even when your audience is online. So what are you to do if you are just starting out on these social networks, with no audience and no history? This is where best practices come in. As a good example, SumAll, which compiled timing research from sites like Visual.ly, Search Engine Watch, and Social Media Today has created a great visual resource of what their extensive research found in terms of timing.

  • Twitter – 1-3pm weekdays
  • Facebook – 1-4pm and 2-5pm weekdays
  • LinkedIn – 7-8:30am and 5-6pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
  • Tumblr – 7-10pm weekdays and 4pm on Fridays
  • Instagram – 5-6pm weekdays and 8pm on Mondays with a sweet spot at 6pm
  • Pinterest: 2-4pm and 8-11pm weekdays with weekends being the best
  • Google+: 9-11am weekdays

How am I Going to Ensure my Business Branding is Representative and Consistent?

Having a social media presence is a great way to show a wider audience who you are, what you stand for and ultimately why they should love you. From this, it is important that you know clearly what your brand stands for and how this is going to be conveyed consistently and accurately across your platforms. This consideration needs to be applied to everything from the voice you want for your brand that can be consistently applied across all your posts to the creative aspects of your platforms- that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your social media platforms it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand.


Am I Going to Have to Create a Written Social Media Policy for my Employees?

If there are going to be several different administrators of your platforms or you run a business with staff members who have personal and/or business social media accounts, it is well worth creating a social media policy for your staff to sign so everyone is clear on their responsibilities and what is deemed appropriate and inappropriate behaviour when they are representing or discussing your business online.


Have I Considered My Mobile Strategy?

With ever increasing numbers of people accessing the internet and social media platforms from their mobile devices, it is vital that you optimise your profiles for mobile users and give them a mobile friendly experience. Therefore you should test and experiment with your platforms to see how they look on both your desktop and a variety of other mobile devices to ensure you provide a seamless experience for those visiting your social media platforms no matter what device they are viewing them from. When assessing your site from different devices, you should check for several key areas such as; do your images still remain high quality? Are the social media sharing buttons clearly positioned and working properly? If text is used, it is readable on a small screen? The time you spend to perfect your platforms from your desktop should also be spent on making your site work for mobile too, if you fail to do so then you could lose traffic and sales as you will not be providing users with a good experience.


How am I Going to Measure the Success of my Social Media Marketing Efforts?

Tracking your social-media marketing metrics is a fundamental part of the social media marketing process as it helps gauge which tactics are successful and which areas are in need of improvement. Put a plan in place that allows you to track, measure and assess your results consistently to see what content/strategies resonates best and to ensure you are successfully meeting your social media objectives and if they are still relevant to you. Adjust your strategy and your content when appropriate to keep your social media content fresh and your information topical. The more you post, the more you’ll discover which content, timing, and frequency is right for you.


Ultimately, Have I got a Clear Strategy?

Having a clear idea on every aspect of your social media marketing strategy is key to its success. Ultimately, you should easily be able to answer confidently and with clarity the below questions that form a basic social media marketing strategy. Part of maintaining a strong, successful presence is also to regularly assess whether certain aspects of your original strategy have changed (For example are your objectives still the same? Is there a new social media platform that your audience is using?) and then adjust your efforts accordingly. As you become a regular participant on social media you will find ways in which you need to improve certain areas and areas in which you excel in, so never stop learning and listening to what your audience and your analytics tell you.


Keep referring back to this handy checklist;

Setting Goals

  • Why have I joined social media?
  • What is my brand’s overall purpose?
  • What does my business aim to achieve with social media?

Audience

  • Who is our target audience?
  • Which social networks do they use?
  • What topics and sources of information are most important to them?
  • What problems can I help them solve?
  • What jobs can I help them complete?

My Brand

  • What is my brand voice?
  • What is the overall tone of my social media updates?
  • What emotions do I hope to convey through my brand’s messaging?

Content

  • What types of content should I post on which social platforms?
  • What type of content best supports my content marketing aims?
  • What are the main topics, categories or messages that support my brand?
  • Should I use social media to provide customer service?

Content Creation

  • What realistic resources do we have?
  • Who should set up and maintain my company’s social media accounts?
  • What is the workflow from content creation to publication?
  • How often should I post new content on my social networks?
  • How does social media fit with our other campaigns?

Measuring Success

  • How will I measure ROI and define success with my social media strategy?
  • What is working with my social media marketing efforts?
  • What is the customer journey from search to purchase?
  • Where does social media fit within my funnel?

This is an excerpt from my new book ‘The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses’ available in eBook and Paperback. Want to grab your copy? head over to Amazon! https://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/embed?asin=B079KJG7BC&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_rLDNAbJ6P5P8W