How to Make Your Social Media Presence More Accessible

Little changes equal a big difference in making your social media more accessible for people who are blind and partially sighted. The changes you make don’t need to be drastic, most blind and partially sighted people are likely to have their own ways (such as magnification software or Braille displays) of making social media accessible. So, these tips are really about making a few small changes so that your posts can reach and be enjoyed by everyone.


Add Image Descriptions

Putting alternative text (alt text) on your images describes photos for people who are blind or partially sighted is very important as it allows them to build up a mental picture of what someone who is sighted is seeing. You do not need to describe every single detail of the image; a voiceover reads out your description so you certainly wouldn’t want to create a 1000-word one that’s full of irrelevant information. Just pick out a few key details that accurately but succinctly paint the picture.

How to add image descriptions on different social media platforms:

Facebook:  With Facebook, you need to include a description in the text of your post. Write your post first and then tag the alt text onto the end of the post. It’s common to put your image description in brackets to separate it from the rest of the post.

Instagram: When adding a caption to your image, click on “Advanced settings” and then select “Accessibility”. You’ll then have the option to “Write alt text”.

Twitter:  With Twitter, you can add a separate image description to an image. To do this you will need to activate the ‘Image Descriptions’ feature, which you can find in “Twitter Settings”, under the “Accessibility” tab. You’ll then actually be prompted each time you upload an image to “describe this image”.

It’s worth nothing that Facebook and Instagram have introduced automatic alt-text, a feature that uses artificial intelligence to recognise objects within images and create a description for the image.  There are two things to note on these platforms:

  • Auto-generated alt-text cannot be turned off. Every image you upload will have auto-generated alt-text, making it extremely important that you check the accuracy of the alt-text and edit accordingly. Because of this, you don’t add alt-text on Facebook, you edit the auto-generated alt-text.
  • You can only edit alt-text on a desktop computer or iOS device.

Use CamelCase in Hashtags

Whenever you’re using hashtags, always use CamelCase (capitalise the first letter of every word). Not only does this make it easier for every user to differentiate words, it also assists screen readers in reading the hashtag for those with visual or reading disabilities. For example, #WriteYourHashtagsLikeThis instead of #WRITINGYOURHASHTAGSLIKETHIS or #likethis.


Don’t Go Emoji-Crazy

A screen reader software reads out a description for every single emoji which is used, so be careful with the amount of emojis you include. For example, if someone puts four heart emojis, the software will read out “heart heart heart heart” this wouldn’t be very pleasant to keep hearing, not to mention it would be very annoying if a post was flooded with emojis!


Videos: Do you Audio-Describe or Not?

Videos don’t need to be audio-described, as long as they are audio-led. This means that the audio must be as important as what’s on screen – the video should send the same message, both audibly and visually. If it doesn’t, try to add a description of what happens in the video as part of the caption. To make them fully accessible, videos should have subtitles where possible. There are lots of apps available which make adding subtitles to your videos easy such as Camtasia.


Remember That Disability Representation Matters

Represent people with all kinds of levels of ability, including temporary disabilities like injury or limitations. This applies to all the content you share — photos, videos, written. If you’re a looking for an image, consider using a photo or artwork that includes disabled people. If you can, hire disabled photographers and artists who can best portray what it means to have a disability.


Create Trigger Warnings

With so much violence/upsetting content shared on social media, trigger warnings allow individuals to decide whether they want to interact with posts that could cause emotional or physical distress. Use the word “TRIGGER WARNING” followed by a space before your post, will tell an individual if there will be sensitive topics addressed in the content. You never know the history of others who are reading your posts, and so you might consider warning for things like assault, violence, blood, or any number of other sensitive topics.


BONUS: Keep alert for new accessibility features

Now that you’re a bit more informed on know how to make your social media posts accessible for everyone, you’re all set to share your message! But don’t forget to regularly check for new accessibility features on the relevant platforms you use.

50 Low Budget – High Impact Marketing Strategies for Cash Strapped Businesses

It happens to the best of us. Whether you’re a bootstrapped start-up, or an existing business with cash flow issues, at some point or another most businesses will come to need to invest in their marketing tactics to boost their business and get some more business through the door. These fifty inexpensive marketing strategies will help you engage and leverage your customers, build lucrative relationships, and ultimately keep your brand at the top-of-mind when it comes to people searching for the product/service you have to offer.

Learn How to Ask for Referrals: You’re much more likely to get something if you ask for it! Don’t just assume your clients will pass along the good word-of-mouth about you. So do you want to get more clients? Get over the fear of asking and force yourself to get in the habit of asking for a referral from every satisfied customer.

Learn the Most Likely Places to Find Clients – and go to those places: Think of the obvious places your target audience will be and go to those places to drum up new business in person or simply just leave a stack of your business cards there.

Host a Workshop, Event or Class Related to Your Products/Services: People love to learn so classes on topics related to your products and services can bring big gains. Plan an event or class to host, then print out flyers and post them in your local community and areas where target clients will see them. Bulletin boards, libraries, coffee shops, and adult education centres etc.)

Create a Brochure: Brochures can be great sales tools as they are relatively cheap, give you some in-hand marketing material when you’re discussing your products or services and also give potential customers who want to think over your pitch to have something to take away with them.

Get Free Publicity for Your Business: Do this by involving the media (including social media!) in your big business events such as grand openings, new products launches, moves, or charity events. Don’t have one of these happening in the near future? You can always get involved in someone else’s charity event by becoming a sponsor.

Create a Website for Your Small Business: If you don’t already have one, it’s a vital necessity nowadays for a business to have a website. Even if it’s a basic one that simply presents the who, what, where and why of your business at least it gives you a home on the web and a chance of coming up in local search – critical for getting your business found nowadays. There are lots of great website building platforms out there, with WordPress being one of them.

Create a Blog for Your Business: Blogging can create a bigger market for your products or services if you share valuable, regular and engaging content consistently. You should also cultivate your blogging community by visiting and commenting on other relevant blogs regularly. (Be smart; pick the ones your customers are likely to be visiting too.)

Develop a Social Media Marketing Plan and Implement it: Developing a presence on social media is a great and vital low budget marketing strategy. Download my free eBook that has a great social media strategy template (if I do say so myself!).

Spend Money on Social Media Advertising: All the major platforms offer forms of inexpensive advertising, often with incredible targeting options. Learn about Facebook ads and Twitter ads in the above eBook.

Become a Radio Guest: Radio can be a very effective way of targeting your potential customers and is a much more inexpensive form of advertising compared to other channels such as television. Get in touch with your local radio for potential deals on airtime ads/interviews.

Develop Business Partnerships: Cross-promotion is a great way to tap into a wider audience, cut down on the cost of advertising and can create valuable relationships that benefit all the partners involved. This can be done locally offline through some kind of special event, or online with a webinar or promotional giveaway

Send out Promotions with your Invoices: A no-brainer that’s often forgotten! You’re sending out a document anyhow so why not include a promotion?

Learn How to Write a Killer Sales Letter: Whether it’s direct mail or email, once you’ve written one, be sure to learn how to maximize the response to your sales letter.

Create an Email Newsletter: This gives you a great opportunity to stay in regular contact with your customers, sharing business news, latest offers etc.

Join a face-to-face Networking Group: There’s no faster, easier way to make contacts and get known in your local community.

Participate in Local Business Trade Fairs: While trade shows are far from easy, they can be one of the most rewarding forms of marketing when approached with the right strategy. Your attendance will be rewarded with rapidly expanding your database of sales leads, meeting and connecting with prospective customers and learning about new developments in your industry.

Apply for Business Awards: Getting a business award under your belt is a great way to build credibility and generate positive PR. There’s nothing wrong with a nomination from a friend or even nominating yourself – just make sure you’re entered!

Advertise Your Business on Your Vehicle: Be seen whilst you’re out and about by putting a vinyl wrap on your car with your logo, business name and contact detail and/or place a plastic business card holder on the side of your vehicle.

Pamper Your Existing Customer: Make sure you’re not neglecting the people who already know and trust you, as typically it’s five times as expensive to make a sale to a new customer as it is to an existing one. For example you could take your best customers out to dinner using the opportunity to ask them about how to improve your business or write to your customers to reward them with exclusive benefits such as a new loyalty program or an invite to sneak preview your latest product.

Utilize Your Business Setting: Your building and surrounding land or sidewalk are great places to put up signs and banners.

Push For PR: A media story is much more valuable than an advertisement because of the credibility it gives your business. Journalists’ are looking for a compelling story to tell so help them by letting them know about an interesting story of yours involving an innovative product, unusual customer contact or gamble that paid off.

Turn Employees into Ambassadors: Your employees are part of the community and have all sorts of contacts that could help you so think of ways you can keep them motivated and utilize them.

Give Back: Channel into your inner good by sponsoring your local lads football team or having a charity collection jar by the cash register. You’ll feel good by doing your bit for the community but will also benefit by generating goodwill with customers. As an example for less than the cost of a 1/4 page ad in a local paper, you can buy team uniforms for your local sports teams and not only will you get the team, and their friends, family and fans attention but it will show a very wide audience that your business is a genuine part of the local community.

Create Instructional Videos: Video content is really valuable, but it needn’t be costly to get quality YouTube videos produced. You can research the plenty of guides out there to help, or you can get others involved on a budget by using sites such as Fiverr.

Get Ad Promo Credits: Big ad campaigns may be out of your budget but there are often discounts and coupons floating around out there for paid Facebook Ads or Google ads.

Create DIY Infographics: Infographics are very powerful marketing tools as they’re visually appealing, easy to digest, and people love to share them. All in all they’re a great way to drive up referral traffic and links. There are plenty of free vector kits out there for Adobe Illustrator. Check out Visual.ly for inspiration, they have many examples for you to browse through.

Recycle Your Content: Breathe life into your old content by turning them into new creations! For example, you could turn a collection of blog posts into an eBook.

Develop a Customer Referral Program: Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, so encourage your existing customers to spread the word by offering a free product, free month of service, or some other reward for referring new customers.

Hold a Contest: Contests are an inexpensive, effortless and exciting way to grow your business and increase online engagement as you often only need to worry about the costs of monitoring the contest and prizes.

Guerilla Marketing: An advertisement strategy designed for businesses to emphasise the creativity and promote their products or services in an unconventional way with little budget to spend. Take a look at these successful examples.

Business Card Draw: This simply idea involves you putting a big glass bowl at your place of business with a sign asking visitors to drop their business cards in for a chance to win something. At the end of the month when you’ve collected loads of business cards, you draw a winner. The real winner here is you however as there’s no reason those other business cards you’ve collected have to go to waste! Use the email addresses provided to let users know that while they haven’t won this time, they are more than welcome to join your mailing list, which will notify them of future giveaways and special offers.

Email Marketing: A great way to get new visitors engaged with your business and maintain relationships with your existing customers. The key to success is to get new website visitors to sign up for your newsletter by offering a bonus content piece for subscribing (e.g. free ebook) then slowly nurture your subscribers via email until they are ready to become paying customers. MailChimp is a great free email marketing service.

Give Away Balloons at Local Events: For a few hundred quid you can rent a helium tank and get a few hundred custom balloons printed with your business name. This is great as a summer imitative at a fair or community event as you’ll have a bunch of happy people marching around with your brand floating above their heads.

List Your Company on Google Maps/Google My Business: Google Maps/Local presence is important for many reasons as It directs customers to your establishment when they are in the area, and your business typically appears higher in Google search rankings.

Use Google Products: Google has provided businesses with a toolbox of marketing goodies (Analytics, Google+, Google my Business etc.) that will only help your business grow. By following their terms of service and best practices, you can help your business gain recognition.

Learn From What Your Competitors Do: It’s important to look at what your competitors are doing as you can get a good sense of how they have become successful, and where they are lacking in their marketing efforts. Both of which you can apply to your own efforts.

Revisit Your Landing Pages: Landing page design can have a huge impact on your conversion rates. If you’re doing any kind of advertising or email marketing, your landing pages are where people who are interested in your offerings decide to “convert” into a lead or a customer or not so you need to regularly update and maximise them to make sure they are fit for purpose.

Make Reporters Come to You: Instead of always sending boring pitching reports with story ideas, go straight to the horse’s mouth and schedule a coffee meeting with the local relevant reporters in your market. Start the conversation by genuinely attempting to make their lives easier without trying to sell them your story and you will become a valuable resource.

Freebies: Everyone loves a freebie and there are many ways to produce freebies that cost next to nothing. For example: a free eBook on a topic of your expertise, small samples of your product, or discount coupons people can obtain in exchange for their email address.

Be Active in Forums: Join discussion forums where people are actively talking about products and services like yours, topics in your industry, and businesses relevant to your brand. This will help spread the word about your expertise, gain credibility in your industry, and build your network.

Get on Online Directories: This is one of the most efficient and inexpensive forms of marketing your brand. Many of these directories are free to register, and enable users searching for your products and services to quickly find you.

Give a Speech: Many organizations are actively looking for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups. Get over your fear of public speaking, think of the benefits and volunteer. You don’t have to be a pro as long as the information you share is helpful to the audience. Make it easy for people to associate you and your business with expertise in your field.

Be Generous: To keep customers loyal to you, don’t make the mistake of thinking that promotional items are only for conferences and tradeshows. Send your customers small “surprise” gifts as they always work to instil loyalty and retention. They don’t have to be expensive, consider items such as tea bags, pens and pads, small flashlights or things very target specific to your industry, like small packets of flower seeds for a gardener.

Team up With Larger Firms in the Industry: Find larger companies, or more experienced businesses and invite them to lunch with the intention of asking them to consider referring their smaller cases or business they don’t have time to handle, to you. With every successful referral they give you remember to send them a genuine thank you. This will help you easily build your customer or client base.

Feed Them!: Anything involving free food gets attention. Partner up with local businesses and a restaurant/ Café to throw a special event, complete with free food. Combining your database with other businesses will expose you to an entirely different segment of people for a fraction of the price.

Write For A Trade Magazine: If you want to get people’s attention and have them call you, there’s nothing like writing an article for a trade or local magazine to gain credibility and get the exposure you want. Demonstrate your expertise and position yourself as the go-to person for your product or service with this service and it will make you appear credible because a recognised publication is publishing your content.

Write A Book: The status of being a published author provides you with unprecedented access to media, speaking gigs, and other opportunities like nothing else can and the best part is that it costs nothing other than your time.

Online Reviews: Online reviews are a critical component of your business’ reputation and can do wonders for converting new customers. Let your fans review your business, then incorporate their reviews in your blog post, on your website, promote them on social media and anywhere else that is relevant and will be seen.

Host Educational Events: Partner with businesses that target the same audience as you to host “educational” events. Split the cost and the work that goes into creating the event, including inviting prospects and clients. It’s a cost-effective way to market to the other firms’ clients, to prospects, and to build a relationship with these other partners in order to gain future referrals.

Join in on Weekly Hashtag Hours like #ThrowbackThursday: To build your social media following, you need to be an active participant in the community. A great way to get your content seen by many eyes is to join in on a relevant fun weekly social media hour that already has a loyal audience. There’s a hashtag for almost anything, check which ones you could join in with here.

Go Back to Basics: In an online age, there’s still something to be said for going back to basics and conducting some ‘real life’ marketing. For example you can go old school with flyers and poster in local cafes etc.


BONUS! If it’s social media marketing you need help with there are many ways I can help you for free, take a look at this! Or if you can spare 8 quid then my new book is filled with more social media tips than you can shake a stick at!


A Message to Business Owners Struggling With What to Charge

Us freelancers, business owners, mumtrepreneurs, those with a full-time gig but trying to get their dream business of the ground in their spare time.. whatever you are and wherever you are in the world… it all begins with valuing and believing in yourself – after all, how can you expect others to value your work, if you don’t by underselling it.

Remember, you don’t get paid by the hour, you get paid for what you bring to the hour. This is your Monday reminder about the awesome work you do!


HERE’S THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE ON LINKEDIN 👉

💭 Thought of the day!

So, i’ve just finished at a lovely networking event, with the same burden troubling a lot of the business owners in there. They say ‘Am I charging too much’ or ‘I really need the money even though I know the budget isn’t near enough’ or commonly, ‘The client says they can’t afford me and want it cheaper, what are you supposed to do then.’

✊ I said to them, stick to your guns, YOU ARE WORTH IT. You should never base your rates on what you think the client can pay. Base them on your experience and the value you’ll bring to their business. If they think it is too much, show how your work will have an big beneficial impact for them now and in the future and communicate why the cost is what it is. If they still ask you to come down in price, then move on. Otherwise it sets up an expectation that you will always charge so little.

No one will ever give you more money than what you ask for, so don’t undersell yourself.

I had a client “negotiate” a rate for an package once. I gave in and every added job after that he tried to nickel and dime me down for a lower rate. When I called him out on it he said “he was negotiating… that’s just how business worked” 🙄

I finally got the courage to say no and just walked away.

Luckily, us business owners have come to learn the early red flags that show a client will be hard work – with brash negotiating of fees one of them.

Having said that, I get it. If money is being offered and you have nothing in the bank, with bills piled up to your eyeballs, it can be so tempting to take the money and do the work. Albeit unhappily. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, then if you have to lower your rate, lower your offering to match. Client wants to pay £XXX less, then do less blog posts, write less articles per month, lower the word count, don’t include the touch-up package from your shots, post less social media posts on less channels… or whatever you deem appropriate for your industry.

If you are in a position to be firm and say no to lowering your rate, be professional and just saying something like, “I’m sorry I’m out of your budget. I’m always happy to work on it later if you’re able to meet my rates.”

Just make sure you’re happy to do the work on YOUR terms. You are your own boss, choosing who you work with and for how much for is one of the benefits!

Saying no to bad clients who don’t respect you, your work or your time, only opens up your time to work with ones who do! And there are plenty of lovely businesses out there!


I hope you enjoyed this article! Why not join me on LinkedIn? I’d love to connect with you! 👉 http://www.linkedin.com/in/scarlettdarbyshire/

Powerful Call to Action Phrases You NEED to Use in Your Social Media Content!

Having thousands Facebook Likes or Instagram followers is great, but it doesn’t mean anything if those followers never take any action. Whether it’s a tweet, blog title or text in your ad, every word you share in an update needs to inspire people to do something beyond just reading it. Words are very powerful and for social media to be a successful addition to your marketing strategy you must learn how to right copy that converts!

What Does a Call to Action Mean?

A call-to-action (CTA) is an image or text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action. It might be signing up for your email list, buying a product, investing in a service, or following you on social media.

Call-to-Action Statistics

  • Almost 90 percent of website visitors read headlines and CTA copy. Many of them don’t read anything else.
  • Full-screen CTAs, such as exit popups you create through Hello Bar, perform better than any other position for CTAs (up to 25 percent conversion rate).
  • Color can make a huge difference in whether or not people click on CTAs.
  • More than 90% of visitors who read your headline also read your CTA copy. (Unbounce)
  • Emails with a single call-to-action increased clicks 371% and sales 1617%. (WordStream)
  • Adding CTAs to your Facebook page can increase click-through rate by 285%. (AdRoll)
  • By forcing visitors to watch an informational video on their services before presenting a CTA, Kimberly Snyder increased conversions by 144%. (QuickSprout)
  • For KISSmetrics, a CTA within a video gets 380% more clicks than their normal sidebar CTAs. (QuickSprout)

CTA Phrases to Persuade

If your intent is to persuade people to choose your product/service, here are several phrases to try incorporating into your call to action:

  • “Try it free now” or “Start your free trial now” Everyone loves a freebie. This CTA is good because instead of straight up asking a prospect to hand over money for your product/service, you’re offering a free ‘test drive.’
  • “Join now and get…” Here you’re simply asking your audience to reply to your message to get something of value in return. It could be an e-book, a free sample, or a template, just make sure it’s relevant to your audience.
  • “Start now to get…” or “Your Journey to X Starts here” or “Start now” infers to your prospect that they are about to begin an exciting process — with the rest of the CTA telling the user how he or she will benefit.
  • “Talk to an expert now” This is a great CTA to use for an online chat opportunity or when you want the prospect to call. Telling your prospect that you are a team of experts, will automatically make them feel safer in your hands.
  • “Learn more about us at…” Prospects at the top of the sales funnel are collecting information, learning about brands and your industry without knowing exactly what they want yet. Using a CTA that invites people to learn more about your business can be extremely effective at building brand awareness. When prospects decide they’re ready to buy, they’ll have your business name at the top of their mind.
  • “Please don’t hesitate to call us” Let your customers know you don’t mind talking to them over the phone. These types of CTA’s belong on every page of your site.
  • “Order now and receive a free gift” If you can tempt prospects with a free gift, they’re more likely to buy the original product. The free gift on offer doesn’t have to be physical, it could be a discount off a future purchase or a downloadable template for example.
  • “Get yours now” A personable CTA subtly telling the consumer that you want him or her to have something valuable — something other people might want.
  • “Request your FREE quote today” Giving a free quote costs nothing but time to you, but once you have the prospect communicating with you it may just turn to a sale!
  • “Click here to get free shipping” Use this popular CTA to overcome one of the chief barriers to buying products online – shipping costs!
  • “Money-Back Guarantee offer here” When you offer a money-back guarantee, consumers feel more confident trying out your product or service.
  • Activate X Today! Using a CTA like this one puts the prospect in the driver’s seat and motivates them to act. These call to actions work well if you’re offering a discount on products or a free demo of your service.

CTA Phrases to Create a Sense of Urgency

Creating a sense of urgency encourages customers to act now instead of holding off making the purchase. Here are some effective call to action phrases that you should consider using as the sooner you can get people to take action, the better!

  • “Download here immediately.” Or “Download here right now” Strong adjectives promote urgency and encourage click-throughs.
  • “Act quickly or you might lose it” Loss-aversion is a common psychological principle that is proven to work! Get the point across that if they don’t act now, they might lose something valuable.
  • “Reserve your spot now” Same principle as above! Tell your prospects that if they don’t sign up and reserve their spots, they run the risk of leaving it too late.
  • “Order now while there’s still time!” Urgency is often a key element in effective call-to-action phrases. Subtly pressure consumers into acting now rather than waiting until the opportunity passes them by.
  • “In a hurry? Call…” Call-to-action phrases like this one let the consumer know that you’re willing to respond to their needs right away. A perfect CTA to use if you offer out-of-hours or emergency services.
  • “It’s very important that you respond promptly” With this CTA you’re telling the prospect that if they don’t respond right away then they might lose out on something good.
  • “Offer expires very soon” A powerful, snappy CTA that clearly states there’s an offer on the table, but if you don’t snap it up, you’ll miss out.
  • “For a short time only” This CTA is popular during sales or clearances. It’s clearly stating that here is a chance to buy a limited-edition product, take advantage of a big discount, or get some other benefit. But only if you act now.
  • “Limited availability” a great CTA as it creates urgency and infers your product is highly popular. A win-win for you as it serves as a form of social proof as well as an incentive to act quickly.
  • “Expires at midnight tonight” It gives a definitely end point to the sale, so your prospects know they have to act quickly as the clock is ticking.

CTA Phrases to Imply Exclusivity

A very effective way to make people act is to imply exclusivity with whatever you’re offering. Try these phrases out to get people taking action and jumping at the chance to be a part of your product or service to not get left out of the group.

  • “I invite you to…” Everyone needs to feel wanted and special —foster that sense of belonging by giving the impression that you’re personally inviting your prospect to do what you want.
  • “Join X Other [Category] as Subscribers to My Email List” A great CTA for social proof. This CTA comes in many forms for example “Become one of the X people who subscribe to my emails.” Or “Join the club! Over X request my emails. You could, too!”
  • Request an invitation”
  • “Members Only”
  • “Only available to X”
  • “Pre-register/Pre-order”
  • “Exclusive access”

This is an excerpt from my book ‘The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses: A Comprehensive, Jargon-Free Guide to Social Media Marketing For Those Who Just Don’t ‘Get it’!’ – Available now on Amazon in Kindle or Paperback!

How to Effectively Incorporate Social Media into Your Website

There is no one-size-fits all approach to integrating social media into your website: however, a combination of the following strategies are sure fire ways for any eCommerce brand to really start leveraging the power of the social sphere.


Homepage Feeds

Homepage social feeds represent an incredibly powerful means of bringing your product to life on-site. Such feeds can help your site feel more human and less like a sales pitch. If you decide to integrate a social feed into your website, keep in mind that you need to ensure that your feed only contains high-quality images and content worthy of your homepage versus unrelated selfies or advertisements. Feeds are a form of social proof, arguably the most important psychological trigger when it comes to drawing in new customers.


Social Buttons

Social buttons are an absolute must do for any brand, this is especially true in today’s world where customers are spending a bulk of their time on Facebook versus on-site, it’s incredibly important that you make following your business via social a one-click process versus forcing followers to try and find you. You can also use social media buttons on your website to increase sales: such buttons can promote your brand’s social media channels as a way for visitors to hear about contests or promotions you may be running. Regardless of where you place your buttons, you should keep the following in mind before rolling them out:

  • Make sure that your buttons mesh with your site’s layout and colour scheme.
  • Only highlight the social platforms that you’re active on: if you’re only active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for example, don’t bother linking to your dead Pinterest page.

Hashtags

There’s perhaps no easier way to encourage social sharing than by creating a hashtag. Not unlike social buttons, hashtags can be implemented throughout your brand’s visual content to provide customers with a hub of discussion and sharing for your brand and its products. Beyond coming up with something unique, keep the following in mind as well:

  • Keep your hashtag short and sweet (the ideal hashtag length is said to be under 11 characters)
  • Be prepared to curate your hashtag in order to avoid spam or potentially irrelevant images
  • Pick something that you can use for the long-haul: the more you use your hashtag throughout your marketing, the more likely it is to catch on.

Product Pages

Social media represents the modern word of mouth: buyers want to show off and share to others about their purchases. To feed into your customers’ needs to share, ensure that you have social sharing enabled on your product pages. Be careful however as it’s crucial that the social buttons on your product pages should not interrupt the buying process, but rather provide a way for customers to receive one-click feedback on their next purchase. Keep the following principles in mind as a means of optimizing your products for shares:

  • Do not use the same social buttons on your homepage and product pages: your product buttons should be smaller and stylized differently.
  • Only offer sharing to the social networks where it makes sense: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are much better than somewhere such as LinkedIn.
  • Make sure that your plugin captures your product’s image and description appropriately as it’s shared
  • Don’t forget about the importance of your customers’ experience once they’ve landed. Give them a chance to share their experience in the buying process: you may be surprised at how many of them are more than happy to sing your praises.

Social Sign Ins

Did you know that 73% of users prefer to log in to a site with social login, as opposed to providing an email address and creating a new account?  Improve your website visitors’ experience with social login and increase your website registration conversions and retention. The benefit of social sign-ins are two-fold: visitors can browse your site without the annoyance of creating a new account and they can comment on your blog with ease.


Include Share Buttons

If you sell a product or run a full-fledged eCommerce site and you haven’t added share buttons to your product pages, you are missing out on a whole host of potential social impressions. Share buttons should enable website-goers to seamlessly share or recommend a product. Two broad tools that can help with this are AddThis and ShareThis. Both provide efficient and easy-to-use solutions for social media sharing across eCommerce sites with the added benefit of analytics to see how the content is getting shared.


Social Proof

With 79% of consumers trusting social proof as much as personal recommendations, it’s important you integrate the proper social widgets on your website to increase sales and website conversions. One way to do this is to use one of Facebook’s social widgets, such as the “Like Box”. This feature shows your visitors that you’re a credible source, their friends also like your Facebook page, and that you’re a legitimate product or brand. As an added bonus you’ll also be able to increase your Facebook likes with this social media integration.


Making Social Part of the Retail Experience

There are many other ways to integrate social media to improve conversions, streamline customer services and drive repeat business and referrals.

  • Improve your post-purchase page with a range of social cues (i.e. Share your purchase) to enhance the customer experience, and to spread the word about your business.
  • Add a simple sharing section which allows a user to send a tweet or a Facebook status with a link to the product they just bought.
  • The post-purchase page can also include quick links to your social media channels, email newsletter and links to access customer services too. This is also the place, as well as in order communications, to share any referral discounts you offer for customers who share with their friends.

Reviews and Ratings

Social customer service is just as important as other functions like contact forms, call centers and live chat, so make sure you offer a good service that customers can access. Reviews help reassure customers, improve SEO and encourage repeat business. Linking social sign-in to your reviews set up will more than likely lead to more reviews from customers, as it just makes everything easier and more streamline. Make your social customer service easy and obvious to access by displaying it prominently on your help pages.


This is an excerpt from my book ‘The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses: A Comprehensive, Jargon-Free Guide to Social Media Marketing For Those Who Just Don’t ‘Get it’!’ – Available now on Amazon in Kindle or Paperback!


How to Make Sure You’re Successful on Social Media

Want to ensure your social media presence is ultimately going to be a successful addition to your marketing strategy? Take note of these 24 best practices!


Have Goals and Objectives

Like every other marketing and business initiative, you need to have a goal or objective that you what your social media presence to achieve. Whether you want to use it to improve brand awareness or as a new outlet to interact with customers, having clear objectives for your platforms helps to optimise their reach and impact. In addition, having well-defined objectives also makes it clearer for you in what to measure for your return on investment. It is also worth noting that return on investment with social media marketing cannot always be measured in money. Whilst it can drive sales, the real power of social media marketing is in building relationships with customers. Whatever your objectives, make them achievable and relevant for your business and remember as you progress these objectives may change.


Portray Yourself Consistently

It is important that before you engage in social media that you are clear on what kind of image you want to portray of yourself and make sure to keep it consistent across all platforms. This consistency equally applies not just to the ‘voice’ you portray but also to the creative aspects, that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. If your brand or company uses certain colours then be sure to apply these consistently across the presentation of all your social media platforms. This also extends to a company logo or picture, make sure they are up to date and reflective of the image you want to portray. Having a social media platform is a great way to show a ‘human’ side to your business that customers appreciate and prefer. From this, it is important to have an idea of what voice you want for your page that can be consistently applied across all your posts, especially if your company page is going to be managed by several different contributors. In general, avoid generic corporate speak and replace it with your own unique voice and customers will be more drawn to and engage with you. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your page it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand across all social media platforms.


Be Where Your Customers Are

It’s important to have a presence where your customers are looking to interact with you. To find out where you should be there are two easy ways; research the demographics of your intended social media platforms and also ask your customers yourself. When you start researching what platforms you think are best for your business, be sure that their main audience are the ones you want to target. The other option is for you to ask your existing customers where they are active online; this will then help guide your platform choices.


Get In The Habit Of Checking The News

If you’re not already doing this at least once a day, you need to start. Get in the habit of checking both industry news and the news in the world. You don’t need to read an entire newspaper and several journals, just look to bookmark a few key sites and blogs and at the very least, skim the headlines. Social media covers all aspects of people’s lives and the more you understand about them in a wider context, the more you can understand where your brand will fit into your followers’ newsfeed. The added benefit of scanning the news daily means it will also help you to find real time opportunities that you can utilise for your social media content.


Learn To Manage Your Time Effectively

On average, 64% of marketers spend at least 6 hours a week on social media. As more social media platforms, tools and features are added into your marketing mix regularly, it can become overwhelming to keep on top of your timing and not to have your social media management impact your other duties. Timekeeping is one of the most vital skills for an efficient social media marketer, so make sure you’re getting everything done by creating checklists for regular tasks and using social media tools that help you work smarter.


Focus on Building a Community Rather Than a Number of Followers

The number of people following you can only take you so far. Having 10,000+ followers is noteworthy, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many followers you have if they’re not interacting and paying attention to your content. So what can be done to build a community and increase engagement with your current and potential followers? Simple, always insert some personality, humor, and life into your brand and always converse directly with your followers: which is as simple as having a conversation with them, retweet them, like and comment on their posts, and directly ask them to interact with your content.


Create a Powerful Presence Across all Social Channels

If you want your audience to stay engaged, you need to be engaging. One of the great ways to do this by creating powerful social campaigns that run consistent across all your social platforms. How do you do this? Start by…

  • Telling a powerful story: Think of ways you can use your social channels to tell powerful, motivational and therefore compelling stories to your viewers. For example, you can share a story rooted in charity work that you do or support. Alternatively, you could share stories from your happiest clients on your blog and then create a social campaign with a unique slogan and hashtag to promote and create a movement around their stories. Team this strategy with…
  • Brand your movement with a unique name and hashtags: Branding your movement will make it memorable and stick out in the mind of your followers. Take time to brainstorm actionable ideas that will get followers involved, whether that is done by posting photos and using your hashtag to group them, running a contest, or throwing events run by your business. For example, you could use the inspirational aspect of getting fit, or New Year’s resolutions, or whichever angle you believe your customers would gravitate towards. Test out a few hashtags, find the one that resonates best, and brand your movement by announcing it on your blog and social platforms.

Suck Up to Influencers

The goal is to get these influential people to like you and like your brand. Once you get in with the people that matter, your business will exponentially grow because you are exposed to their audience and authority. Make a thorough list of key industry influencers and actively take the following steps to socially connect with them:

  • Favorite, like, comment, and re-share their content: Don’t favorite/like everything they post however, that is too obvious. Try to like and favourite a few times per week and comment when you genuinely have something educational and valuable to say.
  • Tweet at them: Whether it’s asking their feedback on your content or asking industry related questions, this strategy works very well as they will be flattered that you thought of them and consider them to be a valuable resource/influencer.
  • Use the same hashtags: This way when they’re reviewing their hashtag feeds they’ll see your content, and perhaps spark their interest.

Share Trending Content

Your platforms don’t exist to be solely self-promotional, this strategy will only make you be seen as boring and obnoxious. Rather, you need to strike a balance between sharing promotional content that markets your brand, interacting with your followers and influencers, and sharing other useful and entertaining content and news from other valuable resources. To help you become an industry influencer and produce content that is share-worthy, follow these four tips:

  • Look for viral videos on YouTube of hilarious children, adorable animals, and inspirational moments and re-share with your own unique spin.
  • Scan the news for the highest covered media stories and add a unique perspective keeping relevant to your brand.
  • Follow and use relevant trending hashtags to add your voice to the larger conversations happening on social media. For example on Twitter you can see “Trends.”
  • Use a popular tool like Buzzsumo to find content that resonates. It’s the easiest way to search related industry news sites and blogs, keywords, influencers, etc. to find the content with the highest number of social shares. Study the headlines that were shared and re-share those articles/headlines with your followers. This will continue the train of sharing, but also show your followers that your social posts are intriguing and follow-worthy.

Focus On Creating Content That People Care About and Inspires Conversation

On social media, you can’t depend on passive followers to convert themselves. You need to create as many opportunities to engage people as possible, and it all begins with your content. As people spend longer on social networks, their community expands and with every person followed, page liked, or friend added, they have a whole new set of posts and stories vying for their attention. Brands who have little respect for what people want in their newsfeed will find themselves further fenced off than before, therefore it is vital that the content you share is what your prospects and former customers generally respond well too. This may be a video about how your products work, interesting insights about the culture of your company or shocking stats about inefficiency in your industry for example. Whatever the case may be, build social content that gets your prospects talking to you.


Utilise Every Opportunity to Make Social Media Content

Every piece of content that you post is part of your story that you share with your audience. Everything from your ups and downs, your proudest achievements, to your charity work and the people behind your business are all prime areas in which you can create content that you can share with your viewers. So whenever you launch a new product, attend a conference or find a new way to use one of your products for example, look at the ways in which you can squeeze content out of it for use on your social media platforms.


Promote your Platforms

Anywhere your customers interact with your brand is an opportunity to encourage them to engage with you online. Once you begin, remember to promote all your social media platforms and that includes mentioning them on your e-newsletter, your email signature, business card, product packaging and anywhere else your customers will see it. Your customers and fans need to be told where they can connect with you through social media, so make it clear where you are.


Make Providing Value a Top Priority

Social media is centred on having conversations and engaging with people. That being said, unless the aim of your platforms is to be akin to a personal journal, the content you post should not be simply an update of what you are thinking or doing no with no real substance or value in what you are writing. To avoid to making this mistake every post and tweet should have a clearly defined topic as well as delivering something valuable to the reader, whether that be entertainment or information. You must also write your content with your target audience in mind so rather than trying to appeal to a generic wider audience, write content that contains specialised information and analysis that those interested in your services or in your sector would read. By openly giving out valued advice and information you will become an online repository of specialist knowledge and this will attract the attention of your target audience. Central to being effective is also realising that conversation is a two-way process so you also need to listen to what people are saying to you and about you and respond to them accordingly.


Be Active and Consistent

In order to get the most out of using social media as a marketing tool, you need to post content often. It is therefore vital that in the very beginning you figure out a comfortable writing routine that works with your editorial calendar, be it posting daily or several times a week, and stick to it in order to maintain consistency and maximise your impact. Although it takes some experimentation to find the best publishing schedule for you, there are two things that should always be considered and will dictate your posting schedule; your business goals and what your audience wants.


Respond Quickly

The fact that customer service through social media is quickly becoming an expectation of consumers means you’re publicly open to both criticism and praise online. From this, it is vital that you watch for any negative things that are being said about you and respond quickly and accordingly. Rather than simply deleting any negative comments you receive, as even the most universally loved businesses receive negative comments, view them as an opportunity to win over a customer offering help, guidance or even acknowledging where something went wrong. By dealing with negativity in an open and authentic way you can help build rapport and trust with your customers. Also remember that often you will get praise online in the form of a great review or comment, do not forget to say thank you.


Coordinate Your Social Channels

Your success will be limited If you treat each social media platform as a stand-alone effort. Your networks should work together to help you achieve your goals, with your website acting as your brand’s home base. Coordinate and cross-promote your social media efforts to reach new audiences, boost your following and to push people to your website where they can buy your product or service.


Boost Results With Social Advertising

If you want to accelerate your social media performance, it’s worth your time to explore paid advertising options. Facebook offers a number of advertising options to help boost sales, brand exposure, audience engagement and website traffic. Twitter has two advertising solutions: promoted content that helps you cut through the noise and serve your content to tailored audiences and promoted accounts which help increase the size of your Twitter following. Likewise LinkedIn also offers opportunities to reach specific audiences by advertising or by the use of the sponsored updates feature to increase your brand’s visibility. Even if your budget is limited, don’t dismiss social advertising. Used strategically it can produce great results to boost your visibility and success on social media.


Find Leads Using Social Media Monitoring Tools

Tracking and monitoring conversations happening around your brand and products is a time consuming but vital task that can be made manageable using social media monitoring tools. Ensure you actively make the effort to monitor mentions of your name, your business name, your products and any other keywords related to your business to find conversations already happening in your industry. Jump into those conversations and provide answers, guidance or helpful information where needed. Being useful is one way to start to build relationships with your target market.


Participate in Other People’s Communities (OPC’s)

Actively join and engage the discussions in the communities populated by people likely to use your services and share some of your expertise when it’s relevant. Make it your aim to become and trusted member of these communities. You never want to be promotional in social groups, but if you’re consistently helpful and engaged, prospects will likely be interested and click through to your profile where they’ll find your posts and marketing collateral.


Send Regular Emails with Valuable Content, Deals and Promotions

As your social media connections move into your email list, you can and should continue to provide valuable information, notify them of upcoming deals and promotions and provide general interesting business news and updates. At this point in the funnel you have likely already become a trusted source of information, meaning your subscribers are warmed up to buying from you. Social media is all about building connections with your target market, and making yourself the first name that comes to mind when they’re ready to buy. Take this opportunity to craft perfect email campaigns, using segmentation whenever possible to be sure your content and offers are targeted to specific groups of subscribers and by the strategic use of strong calls to action in your emails to make sure your subscribers know what you want them to do, and what to expect when they click on your offer/content. By continuing to cultivate them with engaging, valuable and entertaining information in your emails, you will help to build connections that will result in long-term, profitable relationships.


Create Customer Advocacy Opportunities

Customer advocacy is where your marketing ROI can take off. You’ll be putting in less effort to reach your marketing goals because your customers will effectively sell for you.

Continue to engage qualified leads and customers

There’s no reason why people should stop learning from you after they become customers. If they’re on an email list or subscribed to your blog, actively send out informational reminders for them to connect with your company on social networks.

Offer occasional incentives for customers to review your services or share certain posts

Depending on your business and market, offering vouchers or bargains such as free consultations can work well. The benefits for you are twofold: You’ll increase brand exposure and subtly help customers become your advocates.

Engage customers specifically about your products and services

If your company offers a complex product, it might be a good idea to create a forum on your website or an entirely hub that’s purely for continued customer support, just for you and your customers to interact around your products.  Externally, LinkedIn showcase pages and Facebook groups might be possible hubs for product-based conversations that build increased trust for your brand and position your company as worth advocating for.

  • Provide substantial advocacy opportunities for repeat customers

Over time, you might form mutually beneficial partnerships with repeat customers. Consider rewarding these relationships with more substantial opportunities such as inviting them to networking events.


Monitor Social for Un-Tagged Brand Mentions

Not every person who mentions your brand or products on social media will tag you in the post. In fact, many social posters may assume that you’ll never even see the posts they create mentioning you. Actively scan your social media networks for these types of mentions and join the conversation by provide pleasantly surprising customer engagement. You should look to actively monitor;

Your Own Brand Terms—make sure to monitor for all variations of your company’s name, including nicknames and common misspellings.

Your Own Product Terms—A less frequently used strategy involves monitoring social for some of your popular products, as well as the common nicknames and misspellings.


Create an Internal FAQ Document

Consult with everyone who manages your social pages and build a document that houses all of these questions and some solid answers. Whilst you should never simply copy-paste those responses over to your customers, you can use this document to quickly guide your response.


Do What Is Right for You

As you become a regular participant on social media platforms, you will find unique ways in which they can be used to the best advantage for your business. Nobody knows your customers and what they expect from you better than you yourself so delivering the content they want and engaging with them is the most important thing and will dictate your decisions surrounding your social media marketing efforts. As with any other marketing efforts, you will learn in time what works and what don’t, the important thing is to learn by doing.


This is an excerpt from my new book “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses” out now in Paperback on Amazon! Head over there now for more of a Free preview! http://amzn.eu/2uuslrD


What is Social Media and Why is it Important?

Social media is the means by which people interact with others in virtual communities and networks allowing them to create, share and exchange information and ideas. With the rapid popularity growth of these new technologies, social media has had a profound impact on the way people discover, read and share news, information and content. Social media encompasses all forms of ‘user generated’ content, from communication platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to multimedia services such as YouTube and virtual gaming platforms like World of Warcraft. It has become extremely popular as it allows people to connect and form relationships in the online world for personal and business use.


How is Social Media Being Used by Businesses?

Social media puts you out there and brings your solutions to your prospects’ doors. As such, the benefits of creating a social presence on the web have been felt by every type of business and industry. Whether you have a restaurant, retail outlet or provide professional services, social media enables you to build your online reputation, increase credibility and help generate business and drive sales. By taking advantage of social media, you can make your business gain more exposure, be more personable and generate and maintain long term connections as well as benefit from rich insights into your customers and industry. All of which can greatly benefit your business in the future.


Why Should You Join In?

With the surge in popularity in having a presence on social media, the chances are that your customers and competitors are already involved. On the web your customers will be talking, forming their opinions and its’s where they’re making their own recommendations to their friends and connections. Likewise your competitors may be already channelling in on those customers and reaping the rewards from engaging with, joining and listening to those conversations. People all around the world may be already talking about your business, so it’s important that you get involved in the conversation and present yourself how you want to be presented on the web. Still not convinced? Here are 5 more reasons why you need social media for your business;

Social Media is Everywhere and Very Popular

Social media has become a central part of most people’s lives, whether they are at home or on the go, people are actively engaging online. These users aren’t just sharing updates from their own lives; they are searching for businesses, products, and services, and connecting with brands through their social channels. People of all ages and genders are actively using social media so no matter how old or young, or what gender your target audience may be, chances are most of them are already logging on and waiting for you to get started.

Social Media Sites are Free

Getting started on most social media platforms is completely free. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, WordPress and LinkedIn all offer free accounts to users and businesses and in most cases signing up won’t require anything more than an email address.  There are features within some platforms that you need to pay for such as a Facebook Ad or a profile upgrade in LinkedIn, but for the purposes of getting started there’s no upfront cost for most of the social networks.

Join an Existing Conversation

Social media provides you with an opportunity to listen to the conversations about your business and industry being openly discussed online. Not only does joining this conversation mean you can hear what is being said about you, it also means you can easily develop a richer understanding of your customers and benefit from insights into your target audiences. Moreover, it can also be used to create dedicated communities where you can host discussions about the products and services you offer or use your followers as an outlet for helping build new ones.

Social Media is Great for Customer Service

Customer service through social media is quickly becoming an expectation of consumers. Businesses have quickly come to realise that it offers a unique opportunity to showcase your customer service skills, promote more intimate business relationships with your customers and enables you to cater to your customer’s needs instantly. In a world where everything is fast-paced, a quick response that showcases how much you care about providing a memorable experience can create a lifelong customer.  Social media allows you to continually strengthen relationships with these customers through social engagement and because this engagement is publicly visible to others, it can introduce your business to a whole new audience and enable you to reach your next customer.

It Helps People Learn More About Your Business

Social media sites are becoming the go-to place for consumers who want to learn more about a business. People are online actively searching for information about anything from product reviews to informative articles and general entertainment so it is up to you to utilise this and use your social media presence to provide valuable, informative and entertaining news and updates to existing and potential audiences.  If customers are already searching for you on Facebook or Twitter and not finding your business, you are missing opportunities to win new customers and inform and engage your existing ones so it is vital that you join in with social media and have your brand heard and seen online.


This is an excerpt from my new book “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses” out now in Paperback on Amazon! Head over there now for more of a Free preview! http://amzn.eu/2uuslrD