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.


  1. 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!

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

  1. 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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  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

  1. 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!

  1. 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 info@scarlettdarbyshire.co.uk.

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  1. 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!

  1. 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.

  1. 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 slying 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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  1. 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!)

  1. 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.

  1. 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 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!

8 Reasons Why Your Social Media Marketing Strategy is Failing and How To Fix It

You’ve set up your profiles, posted your content, followed a few people on Twitter… and now what?  Most businesses understand the power of using social media for business but struggle to create and execute a strategy effectively. Here’s a quick guide to the most common reasons why a social media strategy (or lack of!) fails and what you can do to fix them and get things back on track.


Not Having a Clearly Defined Social Media Marketing Strategy in the First Place

Before you jump in and start forming your social media presence, you need to develop a plan with key strategic elements that will ensure your social media presence is going to be a successful addition to your marketing strategy. All too often businesses get their profiles set up and quickly start posting without considering key elements such as what types of content will I post and when, how will I measure success and if my customers are even on this social media platform. The result of which is a rushed, inconsistent and unsuccessful presence that is not going to be positive for your brand or provide any value to your customers. So on a basic level to help you get started, before you begin just ask yourself these questions;

  • Why do I need to use social media and what do I want to gain in using it?
  • Who are my audience?
  • Are they on social media and if so what platforms are they using?
  • What messages do I want to share with them and how am I going to do it?
  • What content am I going to create?
  • How often am I going to post?
  • What social media platforms will I use?
  • How will I measure my success?

Not Using the Right Platforms

Failing to develop a marketing strategy often leads to businesses not utilizing the best platforms for them. Many take a ‘join all platforms’ approach in the hopes that it will gain them maximum exposure, when in reality it has the opposite effect. It’s much more valuable for you for example to have three well-developed, active platforms than having to stretch your resources across seven many of which may not even play host to your target audience. From this, it is important to have a clearly defined target audience and to know where they spend their time online. So rather than jumping straight into Twitter or Facebook just because they have the highest number of members, take the time to really consider what platforms are right platform for your business. Do this by performing research on your current customers’ social media habits to  find out where your audience likes to spend their time, the type of content that they find most appealing, and how they like to engage with content. All of this information will help you form a concise strategy that will maximise potential for success.


Having Incomplete and Inconsistent Social Media Profiles

 All too often poor planning leads businesses to have an inconsistent image, voice and persona across their social media platforms. From incomplete profiles, to different profile images across platforms and different messages being shared, not having consistent branding fails to reinforce to your audience your brand message. From this, 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. 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.


Not Using Analytics

 Analysing your metrics shows you a wealth of information and insights. It can show you whether your network is growing and how fast, how much of your website traffic is referred from social media and what content resonates best with your audience. Failure to analyse this data however is a huge mistake, without it you have no insights as to whether you are a making a successful and measurable impact and whether you are actually reaching the overall goals of your social media presence. In addition you will remain unaware as what you are doing right and what areas are in need of improvement which leads to poorly guided future decisions and the continued use of tactics that aren’t driving results. You don’t have to suddenly become a meticulous number cruncher however but you should pick several important metrics that are representative of your overall goals and regularly track and analyse them to make sure they are growing in a positive and successful way.


 Not Posting Content that’s Interesting, Varied and Encourages Engagement

Social media is centered on having conversations and engaging with people. That being said, many businesses make the mistake of sharing content that is simply an update of what they are thinking or doing or random images of cats to encourage likes that ultimately has no real substance or value in what they are sharing. To avoid to making this mistake every post and tweet you post 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. A common mistake made with posting is not including some form of media content such as a relevant video or picture that can lead posts to look uninviting and not capture a reader’s attention.  To avoid making this mistake make sure to post insightful and valuable content that your readers will want to read and looks visually appealing also.  Posts with some form of media such as a photo or link always get more clicks so it is vital that you try to include some form of relevant media.


Posting Too Much, Not Enough or at The Wrong Times

 It is common to see businesses that either continually post unvaried and spam type messages all day across their platforms or leave it weeks without updating their content then have a sudden surge of content posted across their profiles in a day. What those businesses don’t understand is that in order to get the most out of using social media as a marketing tool, you need to post varied and informative content consistently and at the times where your audience is most likely to see it otherwise your posts may be overlooked or ignored, causing your brand to miss out on important engagement opportunities and lack of interest generally leads to unfollows and unlikes from consumers. It is therefore vital that 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. This process involves some experimentation to find the best publishing schedule for you along with tracking your metrics to see when people are most active and your engagement and feedback rates for your posts. There are however two things that should always be considered and will dictate your posting schedule; your company goals and what your audience wants.


Not Listening and Responding to Your Audience

 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. Many businesses take the approach of taking several days to respond to comments, or only responding to positive interactions or worse not responding to either at all. Ultimately, people want quick responses from you if they interact with you online and if you fail to respond you ultimately develop a negative image for yourself by not acknowledging good and bad interactions and importantly miss out on opportunities to make valuable connections with customers and learn important feedback that can help develop your business in the future. From this, make sure to always have someone available to monitor interactions and what people are saying about you not just in your work hours. After all, you may only be working and online at 9 – 5 but that doesn’t mean your audience is.


Not Having the Right Person Managing Your Social Media Presence

Ultimately, whether it’s yourself, your sister an intern or a freelance social media manager, the person you have put in charge of your social media presence is in control of how your brand is presented publicly online and ultimately how successful your presence is going to be. It is vital therefore that you choose someone who has a true understanding of what your brand stands for, knows how to successfully market on social media and is proactively working with you to make sure both you and your audience are getting the best out of using social media.  Remember it’s more than just simply having a presence, it’s also about knowing how to market yourself successfully and it is that point where that general family member, friend or inadequate social media professional is not going to successfully perform.


What are you struggling with when it comes to your social media? Let me know in the comments or head to the get in touch page and book a FREE consultation with me to get you back on track!

How to Perfectly Handle a Social Media Crisis

Experiencing a social media crisis is an intense time for any business and one that hopefully you will never have to deal with. However if you do find yourself unfortunately at the receiving end of a social media crisis, you need be prepared and know what to do in that situation. This post will help you with your pre-crisis planning and provide 6 steps to successfully managing a social media crisis.


One of the key elements to successfully managing a social media crisis is pre-crisis planning and this includes;

Always Listening on your Social Media Platforms

You cannot deal with a crisis if you don’t know it’s there so it is important that you are actively watching all of your social media platforms and listening to what is being said. That way as soon as a crisis emerges you can respond immediately or as soon as protocol dictates.

Knowing What Constitutes a Crisis

Knowing what constitutes a crisis is also a very important factor. A Social Media Crisis normally has three characteristics;

  • A social media crisis is a significant change from the norm. It is expected that some negative talk will occur and this is not a crisis. It becomes a crisis however when a  different line of criticism occurs that is more serious.
  • A social media crisis is when the business does not know any more than the public about what’s going on. For example if a disaster has happened and you find out via a social media platform when everyone else does that is the sign of a social media crisis.
  • A social media crisis has a strong impact on the business as a whole. If the scale of what is being said has a large impact on the business itself then that absolutely constitutes a crisis.

Having a Crisis Plan

Every business whether big or small should have a strategy for how it will deal with a service shut down or public relations disaster. As part of your plan, you need to have clear answers to the following questions;

  • Who will handle your social media accounts in case of a crisis?
  • What will that person/people be authorized to write?
  • Who needs to be made aware of the crisis?
  • What is the response protocol?

If a crisis has broken, here are 6 steps to successfully managing a social media crisis;

Acknowledge there’s an Issue

The first thing you must do is respond to the crisis by acknowledging something has happened, even if you have no answers or solution to it yet. It is important at this stage to be genuinely sorry and apologise and acknowledge the issues on your part. It is easy to see whether a company is being genuine with their apologies, so be honest and up front and this will help you later down the line as you try to rebuild your reputation.

Respond on the Medium in Which the Crisis Broke

Once you have gathered information, you should respond first on the medium where the crisis broke. This means if the crisis broke on Facebook, then respond first on Facebook and then work your way through and respond on your other mediums. You never know where a crisis will break so you must be aware and listening on all of your social media platforms.

Create a Crisis FAQ

You will then need to create a Web page or something similar and put all the information about the crisis in one place. That way you can direct people to that page where all the answers are clearly there for them; this will save time and prevents misinterpretation of your responses.

Information provided on the crisis FAQ should include;

  • Acknowledgement of the crisis
  • Details about the crisis, how it broke, who was alerted first, when, and how
  • Specific actions taken in response to the crisis
  • Potential effects it may have
  • What is being done to prevent future occurrence
  • Contact information for complainants to get in contact

Build a Medium Where People Can Talk/ Voice their Concern

While this may seem counter intuitive, you want people to raise concerns on a medium you control. Whether it’s your Facebook page, forum, or the comments section on your Crisis FAQ, you will be able to keep more of the conversations about the crisis in a single venue, making them easier to track. If you do not provide this then you give no option but for complainants to create their own which will then give you no control of it whatsoever.

Keep Your Employees in the Know

Every employee is a potential spokesperson which makes it imperative that you keep them informed about the crisis. Whether it is by email, text message or something similar you must keep your employees in the know so that if they are approached they can respond accurately.

Learn your Lessons

After the crisis subsides, part of moving forward and rebuilding your reputation is to learn from the events that happened. This means you should create a document for your records that contains information that can guide future crisis management, highlight positives/ negative in your crisis protocol etc.

Information contained in this document should include;

  • Copies of all comments, tweets, posts, emails made during the crisis
  • Information about where the crisis broke, when it broke, where it spread and how
  • Where all relevant people informed and in the know at all times?
  • How did your response protocol work?
  • Who if anyone, rose to your defence? Those who did will later need to be thanked

Useful Resources

How big brands coped with social media crises

6 examples of social media crises: What can we learn?

Are You Prepared For A Social Media Crisis?

PR Crisis Comms in Action: Top 7 Social Media Fires of 2017

What We Can Learn From the Biggest Social Media Management Nightmares of 2017


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


What is Google My Business and Why it’s a Must Have For Your Small Business!

Did you know that 70% of online searches are conducted via Google, and one out of every five of those searches is regarding a business or a place, according to Search Engine Watch? Put simply, this means that potential consumers are actively searching online for businesses just like yours. In order to get your business found as quickly and easily as possible, you need to harness the power of Google and its product offerings to ensure you put forward the best representation of your business. From this, If you don’t have your small business listed on Google My Business, that job needs to be put on the top of your ‘To Do’ list!


What is Google My Business?

Google my business is a free, easy-to-set-up online platform that Google provides to allow small business owners to manage their presence on Google’s search engine, increase their online visibility and to help people find and review businesses in their local area. Simply put, it’s the most comprehensive and easily accessible business directory ever!

On your Google My Business page you can display important information about your business, such as the opening/closing times, contact phone number, your website link and more advanced options such as your upcoming events.

When someone searches for a business on Google, information such as the business phone number, address, reviews, website etc are pulled from the businesses’ Google My Business page and displayed in the results.

Whenever someone is searching for something which Google determines to have local intent, such as ‘restaurant in Chorley’, links to several Google My Business listings will be displayed below a map of the local area. When clicking on a business’s Google My Business listing, the following information is displayed;

  • The business’s name, address and phone number
  • The business’s location on a map.
  • The business’s opening hours.
  • A link to the business’s website.
  • Photos related to the business.
  • Reviews of the business left by previous customers which give the business a rating out of 5.

This is an example of what a Google My Business listing looks like:

GMB

Creating a listing is free and should be regarded as a necessity by all businesses. Even If your business is an online business with no physical shop then you should still consider having a Google My Business page as there are plenty of benefits!


Why Every Small Business Should Be Using Google My Business

People go online multiple times a day to find information to make their lives easier, after all how many times do you hear  —”just Google it!.” Whether through a search result or a maps query, over five billion searches are made each day through Google which makes improving how your business appears on Google a crucial element in your business online presence. Here are four benefits of having a Google My Business listing;

It’s Free and Easy to Set Up

Creating a GMB listing has many benefits, but at a most basic level, listings provide key information quickly for searchers which can help them to find a business, decide on a visit and with the handy maps section to help with directions – it all makes it more likely that searchers will visit your store/place of business. Moreover, even creating a relatively basic listing can help to improve your search presence, so it’s well worth setting one up.

TOP TIP! Your Google My Business page determines how your information will show on Google’s results. Since you are in complete control of this information, you have to make sure that every detail of your business is listed accurately and you don’t miss any critical steps to showcase your business!

Gain Trust and Credibility With Customers

With the overwhelming popularity of Google, web users searching for businesses on the platform are now accustomed to seeing these GMB profiles and as such, having one yourself will add a degree of credibility to your business. Google itself says that businesses that verify their information with Google My Business are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers.

Beyond this, the listing looks professional, provides key information that helps people to decide whether you’re a credible business or not and of course the unbiased rating/review system used for Google My Business listings makes reviews on there more trustworthy than those on a business website. Google makes it very difficult for unscrupulous businesses to attain good rankings in their local search results so reviews on here are held in higher esteem than those directly of a business website for example that may not be genuine. Set your sights on achieving as many genuine, positive reviews on Google My Business as;

  • Reviews are a ranking factor that Google uses to determine where you should be placed on search results.
  • Your reviews will showcase your positive business efforts and people are way more likely to visit a business with multiple positive reviews.
  • According to Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results.

Better Prominence in Search Results

Google My Business listings are displayed above the standard search results which means the businesses shown there have a greater presence and get more attention. This of course also has the added benefit of you having two 1st page listings instead of one. It’s important to note that whilst having a listing guarantees that you’ll appear front and center in brand name searches, this prominent position isn’t automatic and guaranteed for general ‘business type’ results. For example, my business will appear when someone searches for ‘Scarlett Darbyshire’ on Google, but I may not appear so prominently if the search made was ‘Social Media Marketing Consultant in Lancashire.’ Getting into the ‘top results’ for a generic business search is the aim for all businesses but achieving this can depend on the level of competition in your local area for your business type and factors such as review scores.

TOP TIP! In an effort to prevent spam, Google will not allow you to enter a P.O. Box as your address because this is not considered a physical location. If you don’t have a storefront you can verify your business by using your home address. Don’t be put off by this fearing your privacy – Google will not make your home address public, as long as you mark that you do not receive customers at this address.

Find Insights into Customer Behaviour

Google provides useful insights such as how customers searched for your business, where those customers are coming from and how many people called your business directly from the phone number displayed on local search results in Search and Maps. All of which you can use to gain insights into customer behaviour.

TOP TIP! Post photos that show off what you do! Businesses that add photos to their listings receive 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.


Get started with your listing now, with help from the comprehensive guide from Google: https://support.google.com/business#topic=4539639

How a Local Butchers Shop Can Utilise Social Media: A Complete Guide

Local Butchers shops can have many advantages over large grocery stores. Every market is unique, but personal service, hand-trimmed meat cut to order, and a butcher who is knows his customers’ preferences are a few things that make a local butcher special. Many times with a small local butcher chain, higher quality meat is sold because they have the advantage of personally choosing their suppliers sourcing meat locally from local farms, and knowing suppliers and farmers personally. All of which results in the highest quality and flavour meat when it’s sold. Yet all these features that ‘beef’ up the benefits of choosing you over a competitor matter little unless potential customers know about the shop through some form of advertising.

Many Butchers use social media and use it as a means to communicate and promote their products, news and special events and also to interact, inform and engage with their customers and community. Demonstrating their extensive knowledge and excellent customer service skills through regular blog posts, offering tips, recipes in addition to interacting with the wider community by getting involved and giving gift certificates as prizes at local events and sharing community news and encouraging customer loyalty through the use of loyalty cards. Moreover, a butchers presence on social media platforms comes not only from its own online activity, but also from everyday visitors who share content, express their opinions and experiences, and post photos on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

A local Butcher looking to utilize social media will be best served by channelling into using social media as a platform to promote their activities, interact with past and potential customers and share valuable facts, information and insights that will engage, inspire and interest their fans and followers.


Facebook

Where Facebook can really be leveraged for a Butchers is within the use of its extensive potential for user engagement. With over one billion active users, it is likely that many of your clients and competitors may already be there. It is compatible with any type of multimedia content meaning you can post videos, photos, and links to external content, allowing it to enhance and support your other online marketing efforts e.g. blog posts.

Purpose

  • Generate Engagement
  • Increase Brand Awareness
  • Generate Leads and Sales
  • Strengthen Customer Service

Key Metrics to Track

  • Likes
  • Reach
  • Conversion
  • Engagement

Twitter

Where Twitter can really be leveraged for a Butchers is within its use as a real-time public information network that gives your business greater exposure in web search results and makes it easy to build a community of potential customers who are there to discover and share interesting content. Twitter can also benefit a Butchers through the use of both creating and joining in with existing Hashtags. Twitter Hashtags categorize topics and discussions so users can quickly and easily connect with businesses and individuals with a common interest. In addition they can also be used as keywords to help easily find and connect with your target audience. Examples include #NationalHamburgerDay (May 28th) and #NationalButchersWeek (13-19 March) including generic hashtags such as #ShopLocal.

Purpose

  • Increase Engagement
  • Establish Network
  • Increase Brand Awareness
  • Strengthen Customer Service

Key Metrics to Track

  • Follower Quality and Growth
  • Brand Mentions
  • Retweets, Replies and Lists
  • Reach
  • Conversion Rate

Blog

Where Blogging can be really utilized for a Butchers is its use in improving search engine rankings and boosting industry perception placing you as an authority in your sector. By regularly updating your corporate Blog with valuable, interesting, engaging and relevant analysis and comment, it shows that you have a deep interest in your sector and are more informed than the average participant; giving potential clients a compelling reason to choose you over competitors.

Purpose

  • Increase Engagement
  • Increase SEO
  • Establish Authority
  • Generate Brand Awareness

Key Metrics

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Authority Share – Cites and References
  • Audience Growth
  • Conversion Rate
  • Subscribers
  • SEO Improvements

Example Blog Posts You Can Post

  • Our Top Tips to get a Deliciously Moist and Flavour Packed Turkey this Christmas #
  • 10 Great (and tasty!) Ideas for Using up Your Christmas Leftovers
  • 10 Top Tips to Cooking a Show-Stopping Steak Every Time
  • Quick and Easy Guide to Choosing the Best Cuts of Beef (could easily be a blog series for each variety of meat)
  • How to Keep Your Knives Looking Their Best: A knife sharpening tutorial
  • A Handy Guide to Freezer Storage times
  • A Day in The Life of a Butcher

Proposed Content and Example Activity

The proposed content/activity schedule below is just a basic guide. How often you need to post will of course depend on many personal factors to your business, from what content type resonates best to your audience, to what social media channels then are most active on and when etc.

Activity

1x Weekly Blog Posts

  • Post blog post on a specified day in the week
  • Promote the latest post regularly across other social media platforms
  • Daily monitoring of blog, responding to any comments and interactions

5x+ Daily Tweets

  • Go through and find relevant influencers/ local businesses etc. to follow.
  • Search for and utilise any relevant trending hashtags.
  • Respond to questions and general interaction from followers.
  • Relevant retweets of positive brand mentions, customer reviews/photos and local news and events.
  • Go through and unfollow inactive/unnecessary accounts (if applicable).

1x+ Daily Facebook Post

  • Daily look for relevant influencers/ business pages etc. to like and interact with.
  • Respond to questions and general interaction from fans.
  • Sharing of any relevant and interesting items – positive brand mentions, customer reviews/photos, local news and events etc.

Content Ideas to Get You Started!

  • Update Audience on General Business News/Developments
  • Product Promotion

e.g. Beautiful handmade #sausages made with our #Fresh #Local #Pork this week! [insert picture of sausages] e.g. A small selection of the award winning meat we have to offer! [Insert video of meat on counter]

e.g. To all you gym goers we have plenty of offers on our fresh trimmed chicken fillets! [insert picture of chicken]

e.g. Try Something Different For Tea! Flavour-packed and straight to the oven! All Made Fresh and Daily! [Insert picture of ready made meal pack]

e.g. Come on down to the shop to pick up our award winning black pudding to transform your fry ups this weekend! #FryUpFriday

e.g Ready for the sunshine? We are! [insert picture of bbq style meat,chiken skewers etc]

e.g. Another quality display this morning from our highly skilled team [insert picture of counter with meat]

  • General Content from the Website repurposed for Social Media
  • Meet the Team, Awards and Accreditations etc.
  • Content (Both original and shared from news sources] about Your Area
  • Customer Testimonials
  • General Facts, Tips and Information surrounding the Industry

e.g. Did you know according to the Guinness World Records, the largest hamburger weighed 913.54 kg (2,014 lb) and was prepared by Black Bear Casino Resort, Minnesota, USA, in 2012. The hamburger was topped with 23.81 kg (52.5 lb) of tomatoes, 22.68 kg (50 lb) of lettuce, 27.22 kg (60 lb) of onion, 8.62 kg (19 lb) of pickles, 18.14 kg (40 lb) of cheese and 7.48 kg (16.5 lb) of bacon!

  • General Industry news and events that are interesting/relevant
  • Tips, Advice and Expertise
  • Post recipes, meat cooking advice and tips etc.
  • Engaging Industry Related Questions

e.g. Our delicious award winning bacon makes for the perfect bacon butty! What’s your sauce of choice – brown or red?

  • Any Special Promotions, Offers, Events you are Doing/Hosting/Helping
  • Give Peaks of Behind-the-Scenes Business Activities –Sneak Peeks of Future Work, Something Interesting in the General Work Day
  • General Useful Information – any special ways of doing things? Any events coverage? Have you featured in the press recently?
  • Competitions

e.g. To celebrate the bank holiday weekend, we are giving our customers 20% off our award winning (insert meat here) Get cooking this weekend and make it a meal to remember!

e.g. Staying in is the new going out – to win this hamper containing all the ingredients you need to cook a delicious meal for a perfect night in simply share this post and comment below with who you will be sharing it with for your chance to win!

  • Funny Pictures, Memes or Jokes #ButcherBanter

e.g I have just been offered 8 legs of venison for £150. Do you think that’s two deer? #ButcherBanter

  • Job Postings/Opportunities

Are you a Butcher looking to maximise your social media efforts? Get in touch and book a FREE consultation to get you on the right track!