social media marketing

Stuff shmuff - stories are how we make sense of the world.

2017.12.18 Post #3 BLOG - Stories are how make sense.jpg

The effect of our environment has on us and the way we develop, the way we live, our habits and beliefs, is astounding, isn’t it?

I still think of human brains like massive sponges soaking up everything around them and then incorporating the other stuff we’ve already soaked up. For me personally, I find this thought both comforting and exciting because for most of us, we have a lot of control over what we hang around, both physically and mentally, and therefore, what we soak up.

You know that maxim that we are the average of the 5 people we hang around the most, or spend the most time with, however it goes … That’s pretty interesting, but what’s most interesting about it is how you can control who you’re hanging around and what you’re feeding that brain sponge of yours.

For me, I access ‘hanging out’ with all sorts of brilliant and amazing people through the books I read. This totally counts and while I can’t physically be with them, it’s probably more powerful anyway to be hanging out with their focused and organised thoughts that are books.

And there’s something really interesting that I’ve noticed about this - while you can learn from the step-by-step guides and lists and reference-type articles, the ones that show you exactly how to do something and are of great value because of this, the greatest value comes from tapping into someone else’s experience. It’s the story, that kind of connection that seems to reach our brains in a different way - an emotional way.

That connection, that emotion is what really inspired and motivates us to make use of the practical knowledge and resources all around us. I really do believe that you can learn anything and that, especially now with the sea of information available to us, is not that hard. Pretty easy in fact.

I had a friend whose car battery went flat and wouldn’t start. The only other person around was another friend who did have jumper leads, but neither of them knew how to use them. What did they do? Call one of their husbands or the RAC? No, they YouTubed it of course and were back on the road in less than 5 minutes.

That’s a really simple example and I’m sure that heaps of people would have done the same thing. I’m pretty sure they didn’t tap into some deep archetypal story in order to think of YouTubing how to jump start a car. But with so much information available to us about EVERYTHING, how are we drawn to and know what to listen to, to seek, to choose?

It’s through the stories that we identify with, the stories we internalise from our environment and the stories we aspire to make our own. And that’s why being aware of the environment you’re creating for yourself reveals the path you’ll take, the opportunities you’ll attract and the outcomes you’ll manifest.

Stories allow us to see ourselves in a different light, to see the possibilities and options that in the end lead us to choose the information, the people, the art, the places, the brands and everything else we’ll seek and incorporate into our lives.

Think about this in terms of content, both that which you create and that which you consume. Content that’s just information alone might be useful, but it’s kind of like a commodity. Will we come back? Maybe. Will we feel a connection with it and start feeling trusting and eventually loyal towards it? Well maybe, but if there’s something else that gives us that emotional connection as well as solving the problem, we’ll probably go for that … and go back again, primed and ready to take notice and incorporate what it says.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’ is full of statistics, but it’s the stories that inspire and bring those stats to life. Jen Sincero’s book ‘You Are a Badass’ has a great list of other books and resources at the back, but it’s all the stories in all the preceding pages that make a reader almost certainly pursue at least one of them.

Stuff is just stuff, information is just information. Humans are emotional creatures and we all make sense of the world and stuff and information through stories. When content lacks the emotional element, the story bit, it just becomes a commodity and blends in, gets lost and doesn’t stick like it could.

Find the stories that matter to you and follow the people who tell them, see where they take you. If Tony Robbins is your story guy, but you’re a tax accountant, follow the trail of his stories - they’ll inform and influence your own in a way that’s unique and a way that will stand out.

If you’re a patchwork quilter, but you love Steve Jobs and Metalica, more’s the better. Follow them, read their stories, open your mind to how you fit into all three because when you do, then your own stories develop and shine in a way that only yours can. You’ll start to have an impact on people’s lives because you’re allowing them to connect with you in a way that tax accounting or patchwork quilting alone can’t.


This isn’t a content marketing or social media tactic, it’s just being human. Tools are just tools - it takes a human connection to get them to take us where we want to go.

Content marketing isn't rocket science and you don't have to be a multi-million dollar brand to express your message and build your tribe. Everyone has a story and they're all unique and they're all important. Pepper Street's mission is to help small businesses tell theirs in a way that's manageable, is true and feels good, so if you liked this article, you can receive the weekly blog via email by adding your details below. And if you'd like to check out our Ultimate Content Framework, you can download that here
 

Stuck for words?

Blink. Blink. Blink.

You blink at the screen and it’s blinking right back at you. You’ve just made an awesome image for Instagram, or found a really excellent piece you want to share on Facebook, or maybe it’s time to write your blog post for the week, but there’s nothing. Zip. You can’t for the life of you figure out what to say.

I know that at this point you could hardly care less about why it happens and that you really just want a quick and easy way to fix it, right? Well I do have a few quick and easy solutions actually, but that answer is really tied up in understanding why it happens anyway.

Quite simply, it happens because you’re disconnected from who you’re talking to. That means you’ve lost sight of who you’re writing for and that leads to overthinking it and writing stuff that doesn’t really resonate with anyone.

So if you’re wondering what topic to write about, the absolute best go-to tip ever is to think about real conversations you’ve had with people. Clients and customers are the best, but also peers, colleagues, friends and yes, people you interact with on social media. When a customer actually asked you how to do something, or a client told you about the thing they struggle with most, that’s the thing you want to write about ... and here are some reasons for that;

  1. It’s real - that question, that conversation was real, so you know that other people like them will also be wondering or struggling with the same thing. No need to guess or make assumptions.

  2. It’s easier to write, not only because you actually had that conversation, but because the person you’re ‘talking’ to is solid in your mind. Again, you don’t need to make it up.

  3. It’s of more value. Whatever you write, it should be of value to the person reading it. When you actually helped someone and saw it was valuable to them, then again, you don’t have to guess.

Sometimes thinking of topics and conversations and being of value is dead-easy. Those are the times when you’re most likely really connected to your audience, your people, the ones reading. It flows, it’s easy, it’s natural and it’s valuable.

But what about the times when you’re not feeling really connected? It happens, we get busy, we’re doing the work and not every conversation is an inspiration-bomb. What then?

Here are some tips to hack yourself back into being connected with your audience, or at least find something relevant to write about …

  • Think of the last, or most epic conversation you had with a client or customer - there’s gold in that

  • Scroll through the social media feed you’re most active on - look at the comments, what are people saying/asking/commenting

  • Check out the newsfeeds of the groups you’re in, your own and others - again, what are people asking and talking about?

  • Blogs and blog comments - your own and other people’s. What are people talking about, what’s your spin?

  • Look through your own social posts - if it was worth saying once, it’s probably worth saying again. Repurpose it - say it another way, add to it, update it

  • Think about your own story, something you struggled with, something you didn’t know, but have since learnt and share it - people connect with stories

  • And if you have a community, ask them what they want you to write about

I love to write and I’m a dead-set worshipper of developing and expressing brand stories, but I get stuck too … with my own writing, not yours. Yes, it’s a weird thing. I’m really good seeing your story and helping you with what to write and how to tell that story, but we all are. Most of the time we only get stuck because it’s ours.

And that’s why getting help and having a supportive community is gold beyond measure. People to bounce ideas off, to give feedback, to remind you of your value and of your voice. It’s also why Pepper Street Social is about to launch a community exactly such as this. AND it’s, of course, geared toward figuring out what the heck is up with social media. Oh! Get me in there now! I know, I’m making it, so if you want to be in it, fill in the form below and I’ll be sure to invite you when it goes live, which will be within the next couple of days. It’s going to be awesome.

Thanks as always for reading and I really hope to see you in that Facebook group soon,

Andrea

What's the plan, Jan?

The thought of a marketing plan can be rather uninspiring, at best, and at worst, downright overwhelming. Unless you’re a marketing nerd, (and even they, if the truth be known, feel the same way, at least from time to time) chances are, those words are not met with unbridled joy and elation with the possibilities.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to sell you on how you should be elated by a marketing plan - I understand you won’t be, so don’t stop reading just yet. I would, however, like to try to simplify the concept of a marketing plan so that you can feel less ambivalent and more empowered to use it to fuel your business growth.

First of all, forget about the concept of a marketing plan as you know it, and just focus on the following core questions;

WHO do you serve?

  • This is about your target market - who are they?

  • Who are the people that you set out to serve the needs of?

  • Who are your customers, or who are you hoping to attract & serve?

HOW do you serve them?

  • This means the products and services that you provide for them

  • Break it down, be specific

  • You’ll notice that you may serve more than one target market with more than one product or service (Pepper Street Social does)

WHY do you do it?

  • In other words, why does your company exist?

  • Your answer to this helps people understand how you’re different to your competition

  • This is about what matters - your values, your vision, the things that motivate you, your dreams

In essence, this is what a marketing plan seeks to clarify. Of course, a fully-fledged strategic marketing plan goes into a lot more detail, dissecting your position in contrast with your competitors, for example, but at the end of the day, to simplify it enough, this is essentially what it’s about.

When you spend some time thinking about the answers to these questions, your mission and your message soon become a lot clearer. By understanding WHO you serve, HOW you serve them and WHY, you almost by default begin to express who YOU are, WHAT you sell and the services you provide, and WHY people should choose you over your competition. That’s the essence of a marketing plan.

Now if you’re still in a fog, just send me an email and we’ll set up a half hour call to nut this out - it’s amazing the clarity that come from a fresh set of eyes and ears. It’s andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com, or fill in the contact form on the Work page, or connect with me via one of my social accounts (Facebook & Instagram are my favourites). Also, if you’d like to relax knowing you’re in the loop with our latest marketing updates, insights and inspiration, subscribe to our list right here ...

Have a great day,

Andrea

Pictures aren't taken, they're made.

We all know how important images are on social media and how image-saturated the internet in general has become, but have you considered that’s exactly why yours could probably do with some pimping?

Human beings love imagery and we love looking at photos of other people, especially faces. This is nothing new, think of all the famous portraits that have been painted and then photographed throughout history - social media is just another medium for the same fascination. A fascination reflected by the countless apps, software & courses available to teach you how to manipulate and enhance your own creations - anyone can.

It’s probably, in some part, due to this that the general standard of images on the web seems to be getting higher. We see so many great images, that we expect great images, and it means that the ones that aren’t so great get ignored. Now I’m not talking about your personal profiles here, I’m talking about your business profiles and, therefore, that having them ignored is most certainly not on your business-growth agenda.

So when you’re thinking about the images you create and post for business, here are some things that might help you stand out just that little bit more;

1. Brighten up your photos - dark, grainy photos just won't do and are totally unnecessary. If you’re taking a photo that doesn’t have great lighting, adjust the exposure on your camera before you take it (on iPhone, tap the screen & move the sun icon up or down). Already taken the photo? Brighten it using the exposure & brightness options in your after-edits

2. Selfies & faces - people like to know who's behind a business and people like looking at faces anyway, so make it your mission to get over your own resistance by making your face shots as lovely as possible. Now, authenticity is important too, so I’m not talking about plastic surgery & fake makeup - you want people to recognise you, but brightening & enhancing a little can make a big difference.

Look   at these two photos of me - this   one's   the original. It’s an ok photo, but I’m looking a little bit burnt in the sun there.

Look at these two photos of me - this one's the original. It’s an ok photo, but I’m looking a little bit burnt in the sun there.

This   one's   been enhanced with a portrait filter - no more sunburn & the composition of the photo is highlighted too.

This one's been enhanced with a portrait filter - no more sunburn & the composition of the photo is highlighted too.

 

3. Develop a consistent ‘look’ - play around with filters & apps to see what you like and what works, and once you do, use the same filters each time you post on that network. This means that your photos will have a consistency, be more recognisable, unique and representative of your brand. On Instagram, you can save the filters you use by clicking on the cog icon to the right.

4. Keep it simple - the idea is to ‘enhance’ your photos, not make them gaudy and visually obnoxious, right? This is easy to understand with your selfies and the cosmetic edits available for faces, but the same is true for other photos. Strong filters are fine, just as long as they fit your brand and your objectives - less is usually more.

And last, but not least, here are some of my favourite photo editing apps & tools;

For creating graphics, overlaying text & adding special effects;

PicMonkey (phone app & PC)

Canva (phone app & PC)

WordSwag (phone app)

 

For adding filters & enhancing the overall look of photos;

PicMonkey

Canva

PS Express (phone app & PC)

Litely (phone app)

VSCO (phone app)

 

For enhancing selfies & portraits;

PhotoWonder - best & easiest (phone app)

Be Funky (phone app)

Darkroom (phone app)

Wow, that should keep you busy for a while! I hope you have fun with those, and I should have said in fact, that fun is the whole point - it’s not about perfection and it’s not about mucking around with photos so much that you never actually post anything. Keep it simple, but try a few new things to make your photos just that little bit better :)

In the meantime, if you want to pick my brains on any of this photo stuff, or would like extra help working one-on-one, send me an email - andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com, or fill in the contact form on the Work page, or connect with me via one of my social accounts (Facebook & Instagram are my favourites). Also, if you’d like to relax knowing you’re in the loop with our latest marketing updates, insights and inspiration, subscribe to our list right here ...

Have a great day,

Andrea

Think bigger, bolder, braver ... and turn it into a system.

Much of marketing is about creating systems - systems of communication that are designed to achieve certain outcomes and drive business objectives. At the end of the day, a business itself is just a system that drives revenue and creates profit. I know we all get very passionate and emotional about the difference our businesses make and the people we serve ***you KNOW I’m ALL about THAT***, but essentially it’s a system that makes money. Marketing, therefore is a system within that system that nurtures relationships and drives behaviour that allows the system to produce revenue.

Anyway, with all that out of the way, the point I wanted to make is that for all of the potential ‘touchy-feeliness’ of marketing, creating systems around your messaging, your customer relationships and your promotions is really a very good idea.

Now if you’re starting to feel a bit ‘icky’ about words like ‘system’, ‘messaging’ & ‘customer relationships’, please hang in there. I never, ever endorse or encourage icky, spammy, salesy marketing - it’s just not necessary and it’s certainly not when I’m getting at here. But what I am getting at is that all that good marketing stuff of building community, helping others, being of service, providing value and having an authentic voice can all have it’s beauty and results magnified with a solid system.

Creating solid systems around solid marketing principles means you can;

  1. Scale - systems create efficiencies that allow you to serve many rather than a few

  2. Achieve greater consistency & reliability - key to brand awareness & visibility

  3. Apply a strategy that specifically meets your business goals & objectives

Creating systems is a lot about doing a bit more work up-front so that you can focus more time on tweaking and improving the ways you serve your customers. And that means paying attention to what you want each part of that system to achieve, what you want people to do next, and how you nurture the connection your have with your customers.

So with social media, for example, we try to find ways to stand out, to capture attention, and then, to keep that attention, we have to figure out how to nurture connection. Nurturing connection is about knowing and having the system in place to encourage the next step. That next step might be a visit to your website, or to sign up for a free download, subscribe to your newsletter, register interest in your upcoming workshops or events, or just leave a comment. Whatever it is, we know that whatever we’re asking for, or offering, will help turn that attention into a happy customer.

Think bigger, bolder and braver - getting attention isn’t worth much if you don’t know what to do with it. Figure out what you want to achieve with your marketing & social media activities and how you can serve the people whose attention you’ve earned. Ask yourself what the next step would need to be for that person to trust me enough to become a loyal customer - how can I serve them now, to achieve that later?

 

In the meantime, if you want to pick my brains on any of this, send me an email - andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com, or fill in the contact form on the Work page, or connect with me via one of my social accounts (Facebook & Instagram are my favourites). And, it has to be said, that if you’d like to get to know me better, plus also relax knowing you’re in the loop with our marketing updates, insights and inspiration, subscribe to the Pepper Street Social SNAP right here :)

Thanks for reading and have a great day,

Andrea

How DO you grow your email list then?

In the last blog post, I gave you a bit of a rundown on why email is *still* a critical feature of any decent marketing strategy (if you haven’t read that yet, you can find it here: http://pepperstreetsocial.com/blog/2016/9/13/the-moneys-in-the-list-still). And so, as promised, today I’m going to give you a rundown on ways to grow that list.


Just to recap from the last post, email’s still really important for reasons like it’s personal, the people receiving your emails are warm prospects, you’re in control and you own the list etc., but obviously you have to have a list to use it. Using social media to grow your list is a bit like fishing in the big sea. You go out to where all the fish are, you catch your fill and you bring them home to prepare them … to eat. Ok, probably not a great analogy. We’re not ‘eating’ anyone, ok? But, the point is, we use social media networks because that’s where the people are.

In essence, we’re going to where the people are, this is often social media networks, but might also be conferences and events, collaborations, traditional media etc, and giving them an incentive to sign up for the email list, so we can get to know them better. Once they’re on that list, we nurture that relationship from ‘knowing’ about us, to ‘liking’ and ‘trusting’ us enough to buy a service or product from us. That email communication is then integral to keeping that relationship warm and encouraging repeat business and loyal customers.

And here are some ways you can do that;

  1. Content offers - where you provide free content that adds value to your subscriber’s life by solving a problem they have. It could be in the form of information or education, like a downloadable report or guide, webinars or videos, or it could be a discount or special offer. They exchange their email address in order to receive the offer.

  2. Non-content offers - this is similar to the above, except there’s no immediate content, just the offer of joining the mailing list to receive valuable information on a regular basis. Pepper Street Social SNAP’s sign-up is currently like this.

  3. Short sign-up forms - similar to the above, but you can put these short forms at various points on your website, social networks and other digital products. We use a short sign-up form on our Homepage and at the bottom of every blog post.

  4. Long forms - again, similar to the short forms, but they ask for more information. Information that’s of value to you in qualifying and segmenting your leads, and this value is usually repaid by offering a more highly valued piece of content in return. Long forms can be incorporated into landing pages & pop-ups.

  5. Contact sign-up forms - if you have a contact sign-up form, where you’re inviting people to enter their details so you can contact them, you can also put their email on your list. But to be sure they want to receive emails other than the initial contact, it’s best practice to either include a radio button allowing them to include this option, or ask them to confirm their subscription when you email them.

  6. Set up a Twitter card through the Twitter ad page and you can collect email addresses on that network

  7. Use sign-up forms on LinkedIn

  8. Add a an email sign-up tab to your Facebook page - super easy

  9. Use Facebook ads to target your audience and drive them to a landing page where you can use one of the above methods to offer them something in exchange for signing up to your email list

Whichever methods you use, the idea is to provide value. This is about creating and nurturing relationships, so tricking people to sign up, or not delivering what you say you will, isn’t a great idea. Always be respectful of people’s time, attention, and of course, privacy, and you’ll soon have a long list of loyal customers who look forward to seeing you in their inbox.

In the meantime, if you want to pick my brains on any of this, send me an email - andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com, or fill in the contact form on the Work page, or connect with me via one of my social accounts (Facebook & Instagram are my favourites). And, it has to be said, if you’d like to relax knowing you’re in the loop with our own marketing updates, insights and inspiration, subscribe to our list right here :)

Have a great day,

Andrea

The money's in the list ... still.

Social media marketing is brilliant for reach and targeting, no doubt about it, but email is still the linchpin for building genuine relationships with your customers and clients. And that’s very much STILL the case, which is why email marketing absolutely has got be a permanent and prioritised feature of your marketing plan.

There are lots of reasons that email’s really important in your marketing efforts, but it’s good to also remember that it works best when it’s part of a strategic and purposeful system. That is, I’m not here telling you to forget about your social or content marketing, or that paid ads have no place if you’re rocking your email marketing - they do. It’s the role of email marketing as the linchpin or glue in an overall system that makes it truly awesome.

Did you know that on average, for every $1 spend on email marketing, $38 is generated in return (Content Marketing Institute, 2016)? Not bad, hey? Here are some reasons why that’s the case;

  1. They’re already interested - you have their attention. You have their email address for a reason, either you’ve worked with them before, or they’ve shown their interest by signing up to your list, that’s why it’s so much easier to build that relationship from here.

  2. It’s a personal medium - it feels like you’re talking one-on-one and that the message was sent just for them … or at least it should. And when it does, it’s so much easier, again, to build rapport and relationships.

  3. An inbox is quieter than a social media network - when you’re in someone’s inbox, you’re not competing with a thousand other bells, whistles, people, offers and ads.

  4. You’re not limited to how long for short you want to go - if you have a lot to explain about a more complex product, service, or event, you can provide a lot of value by providing the necessary detail. If, on the other hand, short is more appropriate, that’s fine too.

  5. Email marketing is targeted - when you email your whole list, you already know they’re interested in what you do, but by segmenting that list, you can be even more targeted in your messaging. By changing your messages depending on the needs & interests of each segment, you’re providing more value and becoming more relevant to your people.

  6. Stay top of mind & build brand awareness with each and every email that you know is going to be seen - even if they delete the email, they still had to have seen it, and your company name, and then taken an action.

  7. Email is easy to share with friends - an email jammed with valuable information or a great offer is just the ‘forward’ button away from being seen by a wider audience.

  8. Email marketing is measurable. When you use an ESP (email service provider), they’ll provide you with all sorts of accurate and useful data that will give you excellent insight into your efforts, as well as your audience’s preferences based on their actions - gold.

  9. Email marketing is incredibly cost effective. When you’re starting out with building a list, you can market without any cost, except your time. As your list grows and you require more complex functions to manage it, your ESP will cost more, but because of the reasons listed here, your return on every dollar spent makes it extremely lucrative.

Oh, and one more reason … you own your list and no one can take it away from you. This is really important because it puts you in control. Your social media followers aren’t really yours because if Facebook shut down your page, or ceased to exist (this is not going to happen of course, just an example), you’re left with nothing. Your list is yours. It’s part of your company’s IP, and you’re in complete control of it.

So given you’re now fully sold on the importance of your email list and email marketing, your next question will be how to grow your email list, right? Oh! Glad you asked. This bit’s pretty cool and I have some brilliant ideas for you, especially for using social media to do it … but, I’ve pledged to respect your time and keep my blogs a bit shorter than they used to be, so you’ll have to wait until Thursday. Don’t worry, it’ll be totally worth the wait, I promise.

In the meantime, if you want to pick my brains on any of this, send me an email - andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com, or fill in the contact form on the Work page, or connect with me via one of my social accounts (Facebook & Instagram are my favourites). And, it has to be said, if you’d like to relax knowing you’re in the loop with our latest marketing updates, insights and inspiration, subscribe to our list right here :)

Have a great day,

Andrea

Content without action, what is it?

We all get caught up in the social media buzz for business to be in front of your audience, to produce quality content, to be consistent, grow your brand, right? And it’s all good, all true, but with all that focus on content and exposure and engagement, it can be easy to lose sight of the next step. Not your next step, your customers’ next step.

That next step is all about the ‘call to action’. In other words, what do you want them to do next? Now that they’ve seen that awesome graphic, read that excellent caption, liked and shared that brilliant blog post … now what?

Here’s the thing; the people that like what you’re doing, have taken the time to follow you and read what you’ve written, have clicked ‘Like’ or double-tapped to show their support, they’re often ready and primed to do more. They just need you to tell them what that ‘more’ is.

Sometimes it’s a call to action (‘CTA’, in case you’ve read that elsewhere and wondered what it stood for ;) that addresses interest that’s early on in the piece and therefore asks for a super-simple action. On Instagram, ‘Double-tap if you like this’, or ‘agree with this’, or on Facebook, ‘Hit Like if you agree’, or ‘How about sharing this with your friends if you think they’d agree’.

It sounds so incredibly simple that we could easily dismiss this, right? But don’t mistake simplicity for ineffective. I admittedly sometimes underrate the worth of this wisdom too, and yet when I’m scrolling through my feeds and I see a request for me to ‘Double-tap if you agree’, or something similar, I always feel compelled to do so … IF I agree. And often, when I see this request on posts I would ‘double-tap’ or ‘Like’ anyway, funnily enough, I feel compelled to then embellish that ‘like’ with a comment. Am I alone here? I don’t think so.

Then there are calls to action that address interest that’s further along and ask for a little more commitment, not much though. Something like, ‘Comment below’, and sharing with friends can take a moment more than simply ‘liking’, but if people are finding value in what you’re doing, then it’s really no big deal.

The thing about asking for comments and shares as your calls to action is that people like to be helpful and they like to share the knowledge they have as a way of being useful to others. It’s a fundamentally human trait and one of the basic reasons that social media has embedded itself so quickly in our lives. We like to help others and we like to use our knowledge to help others, so commenting and sharing facilitates this need pretty easily and pretty intuitively. Oh and you get engagement and exposure. Win - win.

More complicated calls to action meet our audience further down the line, where they’re ready to take more action and commit further. Therefore, these actions require more structure and planning on our behalf. Calls such as ‘Sign up to our newsletter’, or ‘Learn more’, or ‘Get your free …’ obviously require some additional set-up on our side so that our customers’ impetus goes somewhere. But I’m sure you can see that this how your content really becomes a tool for lead generation and sales in your business, and much more than a ‘nice to have’.

Content is lovely, content is enjoyable and engaging, but to make it worth the effort, make sure you tell your audience what you want them to do next. Social media is just a hobby unless it’s driving business objectives, so make sure your content is contributing to meeting those objectives by simply asking your audience to do what you want them to do next.

And here’s my call to action for you ... If you’ve read this blog post and you thought it contained some small value, how about commenting below to let me know you were here? And if you’re super-keen, would you mind sharing it with a friend? Plus, if you want a hand with setting up the other bits so you can call your audience to even more action, email me at andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com, or contact me via the form on my Work page … or just hit one of the social icons and connect with me that way.

 

Thanks for reading,

Andrea

 

 

 

Keep showing up

If you’ve read any of my blog or social posts, you’ll probably know by now that I rate quality and consistency pretty highly in terms of social media marketing & the associated production of content. Quality is half the battle, consistency is the second, but showing up is all about the balance between the two so that striving for perfection doesn’t jeopardise achieving either.

You know that feeling when you’re committed to writing or posting or creating in a reasonably scheduled way, and you’ve been doing well - you’ve stuck to what you said you’d do & delivered good quality on time. But then things get busy, it’s time to post and you’re staring at your screen thinking, “What on earth am I going to do?”.

So you stick with it, you get it done … but it’s not good enough. It’s not as good as your other work. It’s not perfect. You can’t post it, can’t ship it, can’t send it. Damn! Not only have you spent time producing something that you’re just not happy with, but now you don’t even want to use it, so your consistency, your schedule is interrupted.

This is where showing up with ‘enough’ is better than not showing up at all, and where good enough is better than nothing at all.

Now please don’t get me wrong - when I say ‘good enough’, I am in no way advocating using ‘good enough’ as an excuse for poor quality. I am not for one moment saying you should post any old rubbish or deliver substandard work EVER. But what I am advocating is that sometimes perfection has to take a backseat to doing enough NOW.

That’s because reaching perfection could take a couple of days, a week, a month … years! And will it be worth it? No, because you diminish the power of quality if it’s not delivered consistently.

Improvement takes time and it comes from doing the work, so in your quest to attain that perfection, that mastery, you have to be willing to practice consistency so that you get better at producing quality ON TIME. Ship the ‘good enough’ - your next will be better, and doing this is precisely how you’ll get better.

Showing up is a long game - consistency builds trust in your audience over time, and you’ll feel more comfortable and get better at the work you’re producing over that time. Showing up also means being in front of your audience on social media every day - if you’re not, then someone else will be. Google needs you to show up on a regular basis so you can stay relevant and be found in search queries - periods of silence just don’t rank.

And another thing - every time you show up, you’re adding to your body of work. If you posted on social every day, or wrote a blog post every week, or gave a presentation once a month, you would have 180 social posts, 24 blog posts, and 6 presentations not only done and dusted, but at your disposal to reuse & repurpose in any way you please. You’ve also got data on how those pieces performed, and you learnt about producing quality content on time with each and every one.

Don’t let perfectionism or creative block stop you from showing up. You’ll learn more from showing up under different circumstances than you will by not showing up at all. And your audience or customers don’t need you to be perfect - they mostly just want you to show up for them because they’re looking for someone to trust with their attention and their money. Be that person - show up for them … and it’s amazing how what they think is perfect differs from what you do anyway. Show up today, and tomorrow, and the next day … I just don’t want you to stop.


As always, if you want to chat about some simple things you can implement to get better at producing your content consistently, send me an email at andrea@pepperstreetsocial, or fill in the form on the Work page, or connect with me on one of my social accounts - I would love to hear from you and I don’t charge anything for having a chat :)

Stand out with quality & consistency over time

I guess it comes with the territory - the age of instantaneous results and the accompanying plethora of ‘life-hacks’ no one can escape, that when it comes to social media marketing, there’s an expectation that there must be an easy way. A quick tip. A super-charged growth hack. A secret formula. A magic pill. A silver bullet. A way to go viral.

But you know what? There’s not. Well, I mean there is, there are many. You can buy apps and bots and courses and coaching and followers and boosts and rockets and code and black hats and white hats and this and that and on and on … but at the end of the day, they’re all just trying to either circumvent, replicate, or speed up the staple truth; quality + consistency (over time) = visibility.

Visibility is critical to success, right? If no one knows about you, how can they do business with you? So it stands to reason therefore that since most of the world, it seems, has some sort of social media presence, it makes sense for your brand to be there too.

The thing about visibility is that it’s not a one-off thing. Being seen once isn’t enough to establish brand recognition and be ‘top-of-mind’ to your customers. You need three things (hacks aside);

  1. You need to be interesting to start with and the best way to be interesting is to lead with value - you need QUALITY content

  2. Then you need to show up CONSISTENTLY - once isn’t enough and neither is sporadic bursts - you need consistent frequency.

  3. You need to do this OVER TIME - solid businesses don’t just pop up, they grow over time; visibility and success take time

Things take a while to sink in, to register, to be noticed, especially on social media where we’re all bombarded with more information than we can handle. We’ve all become really good at tuning out ‘noise’ that doesn’t concern us, just so that we can make sense of the chaos before us. That’s part of the reason you have to keep at it, keep showing up, keep standing out with quality, consistently. Over time, you’ll gain traction as people become familiar with your message and recognise your brand.

The tyresales.com.au billboard on the freeway is a great example of what I’m getting at with visibility. Everyone on the freeway is in a vehicle with tyres. Granted, it may not be their own vehicle, but the majority will be in their own vehicle and will someday require new tyres. Every day they drive past the billboard taking no notice of it, but subconsciously, the message is getting through, and when it comes to the time that they need new tyres, it’s highly likely tyresales.com.au will come to mind.

Now social media has advantages over billboards, not the least being it’s much, much less expensive, much, much more targeted, and it’s interactive, which means you can actually build relationships through engagement. Something a billboard struggles with, but hopefully you see my point with visibility through consistency and something that happens over time.

So when you see a big brand or account on social media and feel that pang of green-tinged envy, don’t be fooled into thinking they got there overnight - it’s unlikely. You’re noticing them now, with all their polished content and thousands of followers because they’ve achieved visibility … over time. Have a look at their quality and consistency, and have a look to see how long they’ve been doing that. Visibility is about building a brand and that’s a long game, whichever way you look at it.

Whether you do the work yourself, or you get someone to help you, or a professional to do the whole lot for you, you have to accept the fact that it’ll take quality, consistency and time. That’s the hack, so let’s get to work.

I hope this has been useful, and I’m sorry if you were looking for a quick fix, for that silver bullet or shortcut - I’m not your girl for that :( However, if you’re in it for the long haul and need a hand to get your strategy in place and implement it consistently, then I can definitely help. Email me at andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com, fill in the form on the Work page, or connect with me via one of my social accounts - the links are just below.

Have a great day,

Andrea

What's the go with #hashtags?

Feeling a bit ‘in-the-dark’ about hashtags? Ever tried to tag someone using a hashtag and wondered why they never responded? Have you been adding the # to random words just because you think you ‘should’ be using them, but haven’t the foggiest idea about what they actually do? Great! Read on because although you’re certainly not alone, by the end of this post you’ll be able to happily cancel your subscription to the #HashtagNoIdeaclub (don’t be offended - I just made that up). Read on - it’s super-simple, promise.

What are hashtags?

They’re little search tools that help you find your tribe and help your tribe find you. That’s because a hashtags act as a kind of category label that people use to group their posts under certain themes or categories that other people are using to find stuff.

In other words, it's simply a way for people to find content and have their content found. A way of organising & categorising in an attempt to match what people are looking for with content that's relevant.

So on this blog post, I could use #hashtag (and I have), so that it'll show up when someone searches the hashtag #hashtag. It’s a way for someone to find content that’s specifically relevant to what they’re looking for, and a way for me to show up in those searches. In other words, by incorporating #hashtag in my post, I’m indicating that this content is relevant to hashtags and will show up in a search on that. See what I mean? Easy!

Although I’m sure you already get this bit, you create a hashtag by adding the # sign to the front of a word or a phrase. Please know however, that hashtags don’t contain spaces or special characters. So if it’s a phrase like #hashtagninja, placing a space between ‘hashtag’ & ‘ninja’ would create the hashtag #hashtag without the ‘ninja’ bit. Probably stating the obvious, but still …

And, although you can’t use special characters, you can use capitals. Using capitals can be a good way to make a phrase hashtag easier to read, for example, #HashtagNoIdeaClub … and this is not you, so don’t worry about that one.

How do they work?

I’ve pretty much covered that in the ‘what’ paragraph, but basically it’s a way of applying a label or keyword category to a piece of content (any content) as a way to be found in searches. Tapping on or clicking on a hashtagged word in a post or message, will show you other posts, Tweets, messages and content that includes that hashtag.

Hashtags operate in much the same way on all platforms, although they’ll be more useful on some depending on the ‘culture’ of that platform or network. For example, although hashtags started as a Twitter thing, Instagram is the network whose users utilise them the most. And, while you can use hashtags on Facebook, they haven’t really taken off on that platform, so results may be scanty. It’s worth having a snoop though - you never know what you’ll find.

Why should I use hashtags?

Depending on which platforms you’re most active on, and where you’re at in growing your business, there may be some good reasons to use hashtags. If you’re primarily on Facebook, then you can do a bit of research and see if it’s worth incorporating a few that are super-relevant to your industry or niche. Same with Twitter. You won’t need many (up to 3), just really relevant ones that serve the purpose of you being found in that category.

If you’re on Instagram, then you’ll most probably want to give bit of strategy to this and get your hashtags sorted. Instagram is a hashtaggy platform and using them makes a real difference to finding people and being found - this is critical if you’re trying to grow your following.

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags in a single post and if you’re just starting out, or trying to grow your following, I would recommend using all 30. It’s a completely acceptable practice on Instagram and if you put your hashtags in the first comment, rather than the description of your post, you preserve the message you want to share without risking readers being side-tracked by hashtags, or appearing unnatural and spammy.

Go to one of Pepper Street Social’s Instagram posts (click here, or click on the Instagram icon anywhere on the PSS site), and you’ll see what I mean. I use all 30 allowed hashtags, but I put them in the comments section so they don’t interfere with my message.

 

How do I know which hashtags to use?

Do some simple research.

All you need to do is click on the search icon in Instagram, or Twitter, or Facebook, and type in the hashtag you’re interested in - see what comes up.

A good starting point is to find someone in your industry or niche and see what hashtags they’re using. Make a note of them and go search those hashtags.

In Instagram, when you go to ‘Search’ (on mobile), you can select the type of search you want to conduct i.e. you’ll see the options ‘Top’, ‘People’, Tags’ & ‘Places’.

If you click on ‘Tags’, and type a #hashtag in, Instagram will show you how many posts are using this tag. Cool hey. So after you’ve found some tags that are relevant to your business, pop them in the search to find out how popular they are - the more posts that hashtag appears in, the more people are using it and searching it, which means your reach is greater. See?

Yikes! This has gone a bit longer than I’m aiming for at the moment - I know you’re too busy to read massively long blog posts, so I apologise for that, but I do hope this one’s been particularly useful.


Go muck around with hashtags and if you’re on Instagram, use them well and you’ll see a difference in your engagement - it actually works. And if you need a hand with this stuff, send me a message (andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com, fill in the contact form below, or on my 'Work' page) - I’m about to release a brand new package where you can work with me for a month getting Instagram sorted and seeing results. It’s personally tailored coaching, but you do the work, so it’s super-affordable and an excellent investment … even if I do say so myself ;-)

 

 

Stuck for what to post? Educate. Share what you know.

We all get stuck for what to post from time to time. Maybe it’s a blog post, maybe it’s a an email article, or maybe it’s just a plain old social media post … that you don’t want to be either plain or old, but the ideas just aren’t flowing.

Allow me to suggest you create a post that educates your audience on an aspect of what you do, or of the industry, or niche, that you’re in. Sharing knowledge can be very valuable, interesting and entertaining to your tribe, plus it helps establish you as an expert, which nurtures trust.

Some businesses are blessed with what seems to be endless opportunities for interesting content, while others constantly struggle to find an even remotely interesting angle to what they do. But either way, content that educates your audience is definitely something you want to include consistently in your content mix.

Take a florist, for example. To me, florists are surely one of those businesses that are have endless opportunities to create beautiful and engaging content. The images alone are drool-worthy, not to mention the scope for ideas, what’s in season, new trends, colours, special occasions, etc. Sure, but they also have to be careful not to blend in with every other florist too, right?

Knowledge sharing posts that educate an audience are a great way to keep a florist’s content mix from looking the same as every other florist out there, and this could apply to your business too. Once or twice a week, post something that’s designed purely to help your audience. Make it easy to understand and something that real value can be found in.

For example, a 3-step process to make your flowers stay fresher and last longer … and explain *why* each of these steps are important. There must be tonnes of useful information and ‘hacks’ a florist could offer their audience and in doing so, they’re not just looking pretty, but providing value and being of service. How can you do the same?

Educative posts are brilliant for all business-types, but those that tend to be less exciting, let’s say, can really stand out and set themselves apart by offering value in this way. Take a plumber, or an electrician, for example - there are plenty of creative ways to build a brand in these fields and offering useful knowledge is certainly one of them.

Think about ways you can share your special knowledge with your audience and when you do, remember that the goal is to be of value and for the content to be useful. It’s not going to be of any use to anyone if it’s too complicated for a layperson to get their head around, if it’s full of industry-specific jargon that makes no sense to anyone other than other plumbers/accountants/lawyers/florists etc, and if it’s too long to be consumed quickly. Get into your customer’s shoes (or head) and ask yourself how this would be useful to them, and how will they get the most out of this?

  • Be of value & make it useful

  • Keep it simple

  • Don’t use jargon

  • Explain why

  • Make it easy to consume

TIP: A short video demonstrating a simple procedure might be easier for someone to grasp than a 4-page instructional PDF … and video just happens to be a lot more engaging, so that’s a win for you and them.


So add some education and knowledge sharing into your content mix. You know stuff that is incredibly useful to your audience, so share it. They’ll get great value out of it and you’ll earn their trust as someone who knows what they’re on about and is willing to share it.

 

Thank you for reading - I hope you found a bit of inspiration in that. If you'd like some help with your social media, please email me at andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com for a free 30-minute consult/chat/lightbulb session, or connect with me on social media (buttons below) - I'd love to help you out with what I know.

Have a great day,

Andrea Kelly

Find Your Tribe

At the end of the day, social media marketing is about finding the people for whom your products and services are a great fit. It means not only being seen by people who need or want for your stuff, but it means showing up in a way that appeals to them, speaking in the way they want to be spoken to, and about forming a relationship. It’s all about interaction and the establishment of trust.

Relationships and trust in business have always been cornerstones of success, but with so much information available online, they’ve also become a filtering tool to help us make decisions. One of the reasons social media marketing is so powerful is because most people will trust a recommendation from a friend, and the interactive nature of social media makes those kinds of recommendations so easy, it’s become part of our social behaviour.

The concept of finding your tribe is all about leading with value and generosity, and being known for more than just what you sell. The goal is to establish genuine relationships and for people to not only trust you enough to buy from you, but to also care enough to tell their friends and to become loyal and true advocates for what you do. Therefore, it’s not about mass marketing and trying to appeal to everyone, but quite the opposite.

Pre-internet, particularly pre-social media, marketing was predominantly mass marketing. It was all about reaching as many people as possible in the hope that enough of them would buy your stuff over your competitor’s. It was more about short term sales, less about the lifetime value of the relationship you have with your customers and not the way any savvy business owner should approach their marketing today.

Savvy business owners approach their marketing with a Tribe mentality. They set out to find the people they can best serve and they ask themselves questions like, how can I make a difference? How can I help my tribe? How can I lead them? How can I give them value? How can I reach out and help them solve their problems? But most of all, what do they value and how can I connect on that?


Those answers will be different for every business and that’s precisely why there is a unique tribe for every business, and precisely how and why you can stand out even with a boring, commodity-type business in a sea of competition. It’s because when you find the people you really want to serve and design everything you do around serving them better than anyone else, your marketing will no longer feel like marketing. To you it’ll feel like purpose and to your tribe, it’ll feel like a gift. Imagine the feeling of standing out like that.

Thank you for reading - I really hope you've found some value in this. If you have something you'd like to share, I'd love it if you'd comment below, or if you want to have a chat about content for your Tribe, email me at andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com, or click here to fill in the contact form on my Work page. I'd love to hear from you.

Andrea

Are your sandwiches really better than your competitor’s?

Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. It’s subjective anyway - what one person thinks is the ‘best’, will leave another begging to differ. And that’s why the experience you offer your customers is just as important as the product or service itself.

 

Brad’s been going to the same coffee shop in his lunch break for years. They know him by name, they know exactly how he likes his BLT, and that he doesn’t like his coffee too hot. Brad, on the other hand, tells anyone who listens how these guys have the BEST sandwiches and coffee in town, hands down. As far as he’s concerned, it’s the best and there’s no reason to even consider alternatives.

 

If the truth be known, there are probably 15 other cafes & coffee shops in a 1km radius that have sandwiches that are at least as good, if not better, and the same goes for coffee. But that’s irrelevant to Brad. You see whether he’s aware of it or not, part of the reason he’s so convinced that *these* sandwiches & coffee are the best is because of the way he experiences *these* sandwiches & coffee.

 

He’s familiar with the staff, their friendliness, and the way they do what they do. He feels like he’s a part of it, like it’s personal, and they remember his name. That’s given him a feeling of trust, which he’s reciprocated with his loyalty, not to mention his conviction in converting the unconverted to his way of thinking.

 

Don’t ever listen to anyone who tells you trust can’t drive revenue. The truth is that it does and in a world of fairly homogenous products and services, it’s one of the only things that can.

 

So the moral of the story is that we all pour our heart and soul into the things we produce, whether they’re products or services, to make them the best. And so we should - it’s never a good strategy to sell people rubbish. But be realistic. You coffee is probably not that much better that the guy up the road. Another accountant could probably get just as good a tax return for you. My social media services are absolutely available elsewhere.


Our ‘stuff’, at the end of the day, isn’t that different, but the way our customers experience it can be. Remember names, remember details, follow-up & go the extra mile in ways that matter. Make your customers feel like you really care and like Brad, they’ll reward you with their loyalty. Loyalty is hard to compete with.

Thank you for reading - I hope you found a kernel of inspiration in that. If you'd like some help with your social media, please email me at andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com for a free 30-minute consult/chat/lightbulb session, or connect with me on social media (buttons below).

Have a great day,

Andrea Kelly

 

 

Facebook page mini-audit checklist

Whether you’ve just set up your brand new Facebook business page, or you’ve had your page for a while now, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s set up properly and functioning as optimally as possible. Use this checklist like a mini-audit and rest assured that you’re giving all your hard work the best opportunity to be seen and to flourish.

1. Does your page have it’s vanity URL, or is it using a yukky generic one with lots of numbers and other garbage on the end?

Yes, this is just a vanity thing, but it’s nice to have a Facebook URL that’s clean so it’s easy for people to find you and also because it looks much more professional when you use the link in other places like email or other social networks.

If you’ve got the ugly URL thing happening, go to https://www.facebook.com/username to change it and claim your business name.


2. Have a really great cover photo.

Take some time and get this right.
First of all, the size for a cover photo is 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. Now you also need to remember that your profile pic sits on top of your cover so plan for this and make sure it’s not covering something important. Also, your cover image will be cropped a bit on mobile devices, so allow for this. Pepper Street Social’s Facebook cover is cropped on mobile and as I still haven’t fixed it, it’s a good example of what I’m talking about. So to avoid this, keep text and images inside 144px from the left and the right of the cover.

 

Image courtesy of http://andrewhubbard.co/complete-2016-guide-facebook-image-sizes/

Use imagery that represents your brand, is interesting to look at and good quality. It’s a good idea to use images that are the same or similar to ones on your website - you want your brand consistently respresented so that people can easily recognise it.

Also, did you know you can add a description and other text to your cover photo? Use this section to include your tagline and links to website and other social networks so that when people hover over the photo, more about you without any effort on their behalf.

3. Make sure your profile picture is the right size and legible.
It should be 180 x 180px and it will display at 160 x 160.


4. Fill in your About tab well.

Here is an opportunity to describe what you do so be clear and concise and not vague or waffly. You can also use links in here so you should add a link to your website and your other social network profile links.

5. Using keywords in all descriptive sections allows Google to find you more easily.

Fill in all of the other areas such as Mission etc, don’t leave them blank. You should write good copy that is enjoyable to read, but in which you have incorporated keywords relevant to your industry, product or service.


6. Is there consistency in the timing of your posts?
In other words, don't post 20 things in 20 minutes & then disappear for 3 weeks. However much or however little you can handle on a daily basis, do it well & do it consistently. It makes a massive difference. (Using a content calendar, it needn’t be complex or fancy, can help a lot with planning and consistency).

7. Are your posts quality content?

In other words, don't post crap, put *some* effort in - this is your brand. It's important. Be mindful.

Photos and videos do really well on Facebook because they’re visually appealing … as long as they’re, well, visually appealing. Again, take some time to find images that are good quality and interesting. Photos and video seem to get more likes, comments and shares, but simple text posts might get better reach. Either way, it should all the be best quality you’re capable of producing.

8. Does the page have personality?

Too often business pages make the mistake of being too ‘businessy’, too salesy and show too much of their product. Don’t do this - it’s boring!

Put yourself into what you do. YOU are unique: you're both interesting and hard to duplicate whereas, hate to say, but your products & services are not. Without personality, they're just stuff. YOU make your stuff stand out.

Mix it up and try things out - find ways of expressing personality that are consistent with your brand. Have fun, show people you’re a real person or people - that’s much more engaging that just talking about your stuff all the time.

9. Does the page allow fans to message you?

Not sure about this? Well it’s a personal choice, but there’s a lot to be said for allowing people to connect with you privately. If that’s not an available option, they just might not engage at all … and they’ll likely find someone else doing what you do who allows them to do that. Customers who engage personally are more likely to become long-term customers.

You can switch messages on in page settings.

9. Does your page respond to your fans?
When people take the time to comment or ask questions on your page, there’s no excuse for not replying - please make sure you do. The ability to interact is the whole point of social media - it’s social, not a billboard!


10. Tag other pages
This is a good way to expose your brand and build awareness within your industry. Tag people and other pages in context with what you’re posting and talking about. You might want to highlight their page and share some of their content with your fans as a way of networking and building relationships
 

You can tag someone or a page by using the @ before their name or the name of their page and Facebook will make it a live link. If the page is not recognised by using the @ symbol, you may need to Like that page personally and as your page first. Also, make sure you enable people and other pages to tag your page in Settings.

11. Pin your best and most timely posts to the top
Clicking on the grey arrow in the top right of your post shows some options including Pin Post. This option just pins that post to the top of the newsfeed so that anyone visiting your page will see that post first without having to scroll through the feed.


12. Does your page use milestones?
Milestones are another way to show the personality and ‘realness’ of your brand and business by taking your fans on the journey with you. You can use milestones to mark opening your doors for business for the first time, for hosting events, winning awards - the list goes on. You can really engage your audience in your milestone sharing them to your personal timeline and asking your fans to do the same. People visiting your page can see Milestones in the About section.

13. Update your Featured Likes

When you Like other pages as your business page, Facebook will choose at random which of these will be displayed on your page under the ‘Like by this Page’ section. This is good for networking and showing your place in your industry, and you can also choose which ones are featured. Do this in Settings under ‘People and Other Pages’.

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but I hope it gives you a quick run-down of things to check when you're getting started or when you haven't checked for a while.

If you'd like to know more, please comment here, or connect with me on Facebook or Instagram. Can't find something or get something to work? Let me know - I'd be so happy to help.

Andrea Kelly - Pepper Street Social
 

7 things a great social media manager does to grow your business

What exactly does a social media manager actually do?

Running a business is a more than a full-time job, especially in the beginning when so much is front-end loaded, and so many things are being set up for the first time. There are lots of things to get your head around and make time for, and the learning curve is steep and long. Marketing your business through social media is one of a plethora of things on your mind.

Social media makes sense and you want to get onboard, but how does anyone find the time to manage social media accounts on top of everything else, and how do you know where to start anyway? Social media management sounds like it could be a solution, but what is it exactly, and what are you paying a social media manager to do?

Here’s a list of 7 things a great social media manager does for you and your business;

1. Marketing strategy

Social media can be a lot of fun, but at the end of the day, you’re spending your business time and resources on social media to get business results. Anyone can post on social media, but it takes a marketing professional to design and implement a social media marketing strategy, analyse the data and tweak the plan to achieve the best results.

A marketing professional understands fundamental marketing principles, like branding and positioning, and can apply them to a social media strategy designed to achieve your specific business goals. This should never be a one-size-fits-all approach. Your social media manager should be taking the time to dive deep not only into what you want to achieve for your business, but what your values are, what you want to be known for, what matters to you and your business the most. These underlying values are what makes your brand and your marketing strategy stand out.

There’s a lot of data that comes with social media and while your social media manager should have the analytical skills to decipher that data and extract insights and knowledge, a true marketing professional will always put people and relationships first. There are things, like genuine goodwill and generosity that are difficult to extract data on, or pin a definite return on investment, but these are business and marketing non-negotiables that a professional will honour and which, over time, you will see reflected in your bottom line.

Marketing is a science, an art, a profession, and a discipline that can mean the difference between a mediocre business and one that booms. Find a social media manager that has a marketing background, experience and qualifications - your success is worth it.

 

2. Content creation

Content is any form of information on the internet, so it includes social media updates, images, video, blogs, e-books, podcasts etc. Marketing and social media run on content - messages and information that you want to share with others to grow your business.

Content serves many purposes for a business like gaining exposure and awareness about your brand or business, engaging & interacting with your audience and customers, promoting your products or services, gaining feedback from the market or industry and so on. That’s why in addition to being a capable marketing strategist and analyst, your social media manager needs to be good at creating content.

This involves skills like the ability to write and communicate to a very high standard, copywriting, design and imagery. Not only does your social media manager need these skills to produce  excellent content, but that content needs to be created as a piece in your overall strategy. It needs to make sense in the bigger marketing picture and contribute to achieving the goals that strategy was designed to achieve.

Furthermore, each piece of content needs to be adapted for each network. Not only are the technical requirements for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, for example, all different, but each network has a different tone and ‘vibe’, which means that what works on one, may not work on another. One message, or piece of content therefore is adapted both technically, as in size of images, character limitations and use of links, as well as communicatively, that is, saying the same thing in a way that better suits each network’s audience.

Your social media manager should be excellent at producing high quality written content that matches your strategy and which looks amazing on social media. Attention to detail and creativity in producing amazing images to accompany brilliant copy absolutely has to be of the highest standard. Don’t let your brand down with poor content.

 

3. Community building and communications management

Facilitating connection between others and with your brand or business to build a community is one of the key goals of social media marketing. People don’t have relationships with businesses or brands, they have relationships with other people, collections of which we call communities.

Communities are created when people find they have something in common because we gravitate to people that are like ourselves. They’re important in business because it’s a way of scaling relationships, if you like. Relationships can foster loyalty and word of mouth in ways that are invaluable to growing your business, and this happens when people don’t just engage with the company, but start engaging with each other.

Community building takes time and requires someone who is an excellent communicator and facilitator, someone who is good at connecting with people and who is good at connecting others and someone who can set the tone and promote the values of the community through their interactions.

 

4. Project management

There’s a lot going on when you’re managing social media accounts, especially for multiple clients, as social media managers do. It’s imperative therefore that your social media manager is an excellent project manager.

You want them to be following an implementation plan and using scheduling tools to ensure your content is posted consistently when and where it should be. They should be working on creating and scheduling content well in advance so there’s never any last minute scramble and compromise on quality. You should have access to the implementation plan so that you know what’s being posted and when - there shouldn’t be any surprises, except for maybe some nice little bonuses and of course results that exceed your expectations :)

The other important aspect of project management is your social media manager’s ability to understand and respond to the changing needs of your business. That is, in addition to implementing the strategic plan, they also need to be adaptable and flexible to things that change. These are not always negative things and can include things like an upcoming event, or the unexpected response to a product, or piece of content. You want your social media manager to be able to minimise any negative impacts as well as identifying and maximising opportunities for your business.

 

5. Customer service management

This is similar to community building, but I think it deserves a category of its own because customer service is so important. Even if you have your own customer service reps, your social media manager is often going to be in the position of seeing questions and comments on your social media accounts before anyone else, therefore it’s really beneficial for them to respond quickly and accurately.

Your social media manager becomes the voice of your business in many ways so making sure they are very familiar with your business, its products, services, processes and employees, means they have the opportunity to be an extra set of eyes and ears in the trenches. Understanding questions and comments in the context of the business, and being able to respond is another way of promoting your brand, fostering community and encouraging loyalty and word of mouth, as well as learning first-hand about customer sentiment.

A good social media manager understands that looking after your customers and potential customers is key to achieving results for your business.

 

6. A dedication to ongoing learning and keeping a finger on the pulse

Social media is a hungry beast. Not only does it need to be fed quality content often, but it changes constantly. Keeping up with changes to network features, algorithms, and new tools, as well as knowing what’s working in your industry and what’s the latest thing people are talking about is a daunting task, and it’s part of the reason you have a social media manager.

A professional who’s dedicated to constant and ongoing learning means that your business benefits without personal effort on your behalf. Your social media manager will keep their finger on the pulse and constantly incorporate network changes and new learnings to your content and the management of your accounts.

Your social media manager lives in and can navigate the social media jungle so you don’t have to. Living in the jungle will have taught them how to keep up, survive and thrive. They’ll be able to spot new opportunities and understand the pulse of your industry not only on a local, but a global level. They’ll know where to looks for news, compelling information and movements that will keep your brand relevant and captivating.

 

7. Your own social media business coach

Last, but certainly not least is the role your social media manager plays in being your coach.

Life gets busy, business gets even busier. We get excited, enthusiastic, and want to move forward, take action NOW. And we also become overwhelmed and disorientated, finding it hard to make a decision, overthinking things and feeling stuck.

A really great social media manager is one that can help you to exercise patience when it’s needed and identify the best next step if you get stuck. They can become a sounding board for your ideas and a right-hand-man for turning those ideas into actions.

The key to utilising fully utilising the resources of your social media manager is in your relationship with them. The best social media managers prioritise their relationship with you because they know how important this is in the success of you both.

Your social media manager should make you feel like you’re a priority, and like they’re excited to be working with you. You should get the impression that they’re as excited about growing your business as you are, and that they’re willing to put in just as much effort. Find a social media manager who you click with because your relationship with them can make all the difference.

What do you think? Have I covered everything, or are there things you think are important that aren’t on this list? I’d love to hear your comments, after all, my journey is one of learning if nothing else.

 

Relax, you’ve got this.

Andrea Kelly, Pepper Street Social

 

 

Foundation for greatness - 3 social media marketing fundamentals

So you’ve had this great idea for a business for some time now. It’s probably been percolating away in your head forever until you just couldn’t ignore it anymore and you decided now’s the time to make it happen. You’ve bought your domain name, set up your social accounts, maybe even got a great logo and a custom email address … now what?

 

At this point, two responses are common;

You’re either stunned like a rabbit in the headlights (do rabbits actually get stunned by headlights? Just that we don’t have deer here …), frozen on the spot, too scared to move, petrified of posting the wrong thing, and what on earth would you say anyway.

 

Or, you’re so excited you spend every waking moment on social media posting everything from pictures of your dog (not an entirely bad idea - people do love dog posts), to your logo, what you made for dinner, your logo, 20 thousand articles links, related or not, your logo, your product, your logo, and your logo.

 

Either way, overwhelm starts to set in and heaven forbid anyone mention the words “social media strategy” and you’re likely to explode, or crawl quietly into a hole. Ridiculously stunned, completely petrified, or ridiculously enthusiastic, to the point of being a danger to yourself and others - can you relate?

 

The good news is that strategy, when you’re starting out on social media, can be really very simple - just 3 goals to keep in mind and be moving towards achieving;

 

  1. Being visible - in other words, getting out there.

  2. Building relationships - you might have a great logo, but your business isn’t your logo, people want to connect with you.

  3. Learn by doing and asking. You don’t have to have it all figured out before you start and you don’t have to guess - try things out, see what works, ask about what people want, how much they want to pay - listen.

 

When you’re starting out on social media for your business, it can be daunting, that’s a given, but it doesn’t have to be harder than it needs to be. Whether you’re going it alone and wearing 20 hats on any given day, or you’ve got a team and looking to scale as quickly as possible, these social media goals are timeless and will continue to underpin your strategy as it grows and becomes more sophisticated. That’s why it’s a really good idea to start simply and nail these fundamentals before things get more complicated.

 

Being visible means getting out there. People have to be able to see you and be able to find you. Simply having a great logo and your social accounts all set up is not enough. That’s because people aren’t looking for profiles - they’re in their feeds looking at content. I hate to state the obvious, but this is why we post, pin, tweet, snap and share - so people see it.

 

Initially, this can be quite confronting for some people, the deers (or rabbits), but there’s no way around it. You need to put yourself out there and show people what it is you’re doing and who you are. Of course you don’t want to be salesy, sleasy or just too in-your-face (the dangerously excited ones), but people need to know who you are and what you do in order for them to even consider doing business with you.

 

For both the deers and the dangerously excited alike, the comfort, voice and rhythm of social media takes practice. Don’t lose sight of that. Feeling comfortable with this stuff and knowing what you’re doing will come with persistence and time, and you will get there.

 

Be visible by;

  • Choosing one or two platforms to get started with, you don’t have to be on every one, and then take some time to make sure you have your profile and bio details filled in completely and correctly. Do a Google search for each platform you’re active on and fill in all of the fields.

  • Consistency matters - post at least daily. You may want to post more often, but particularly if you’re not super-comfortable with getting out there that much, posting every day is a daily step forward in practicing and gaining confidence in getting out there.

  • Invite your friends that are active on your chosen platform(s) to follow you - they’ll be keen to support you and it’s all just more practice for you in getting out there.

  • Use the search function on your chosen platform(s) to find other businesses like yours and follow them. Follow them as yourself and as your business - you can learn from what they’re doing and expose them to your brand at the same time.

  • Use images (obvious for Instagram and Pinterest), but images on other platforms make your posts more visible and engaging.

  • Show yourself - don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. The people who do well on social media stand out because their personality, or their brand personality shows through.

 

Building relationships - forget about ‘being a business’, just focus on relationships.

A business is a collection of relationships … and we human beings like to have relationships with other human beings. It’s how we do everything, including business. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to treat people the way you would in real life (assuming you’re not a sociopath of course) because in fact, this is the very thing that helps you stand out on social media and will make your business a success. Lots of businesses get that wrong and don’t put the effort they should into the relationships that sustain them.

 

Building relationships means using the same rules of engagement as you would in the real world. It means being respectful, saying hello, acknowledging people when they’ve taken the time to acknowledge you with a comment, or a follow. It means introducing yourself, being real, being you. It means being helpful and interested rather than interesting. It means seeking out the person behind the posts and it means being a real person behind your posts.

 

There is a lot of value you can offer people right now, just by being helpful, so be helpful. You don’t have to have your 5-year strategy and full-product or service line fully figured out to be insanely helpful to someone today. By listening and learning and offering your help wherever you can, gives you the opportunity to start building relationships, which are the foundation of your business and all of your marketing and social media efforts. Relationships take time to seed, nourish and flourish so don’t wait to get started. You have everything you need to start building your business relationships right now.

 

Start building relationships by;

  • Always respond to people who have taken the time to comment on your posts

  • Be authentic - don’t say things that aren’t true to make yourself look better

  • Be helpful - be of value to people by being helpful

  • Thank and acknowledge people who have tagged you or shared your posts

Learn by doing and asking.

The best way to learn anything is by doing it. By jumping in and getting active and consistent on social media, you’ll learn a tonne about the platform itself, you’ll learn about yourself and start to find your voice, and maybe most importantly, you’ll learn about the people you interact with - the people who are interested in what you do.

 

Through posting consistently you can be seen and found - you’re visible. Then you start building relationships by being a decent, helpful person. Then through those relationships you have an amazing opportunity to learn about the people who are interested in you, your product or your service. In marketing terms, these people are called your target audience, or target market.

 

The reason a relationship with these people on social media is gold, is because they can give you insights that enable you to better communicate and position your offerings. That means instead of making assumptions about a product you think they might want, at a price you think they’d be happy to pay, you can actually ask them. Imagine being able to do that. Now are you beginning to see why  being visible, building relationships and learning from those relationships is a killer strategy?

 

Yes, it is simple, but it’s fundamental, evergreen, this is how-it-really-works stuff. And it actually does work. But, like all good and worthwhile things in life, it takes time, patience and effort. It’s not going to happen overnight and there’s a lot to learn and tweak along the way - both reasons to get started sooner than later.

 

Don’t wait until you feel like you’re qualified and confident enough - you just need to jump in now. Share what you know because that in itself provides enormous value to the person who knows a fraction of what you do, so that means you can help them right now. Post consistently, try things out, be real and learn. That’s all you need to do to keep it simple and set a solid foundation for future greatness.

 

Relax, you’ve got this.


Written by Andrea Kelly, with lots of encouragement and enthusiasm for the deers and the dangerously excited alike.

How social media can build a small business brand - part 2

Yesterday I posted part 1 of this article, (http://www.andreakelly.org/andreakelly/2015/3/25/how-social-media-can-build-a-small-business-brand-part-1) about how traditional brand building principles fit in with a contemporary social media marketing plan. I looked at how the first 2 steps of brand building, identity and meaning, play out in a social media setting. I mentioned that these brand building blocks fit so well with social media that it’s incredible to think we ever managed to build brands without it.

 

Today I continue that exploration into response and relationships, and I’m pretty sure that straight away it’s pretty obvious that these 2 steps also fit perfectly with social media and probably even better than the first 2. Social media is social and it’s interactive - perfect for eliciting and encouraging response and building relationships.

 

So following on from identity and meaning ...

 

3. Next is response - judgements and feelings about your brand

When a customer or client puts your brand identity together in their mind with your brand meaning, they form brand judgements and feelings, and naturally we want them to be positive.

There are four broad categories of brand judgement - they are;

Brand quality - influenced by how well you perform in relation to competitors, your professionalism, image, customer value and satisfaction.

Brand credibility - influenced by perceived expertise, trustworthiness and likability, that is, competent, dependable and interesting or fun.

Brand consideration - how much does your target consider your brand to be a good fit for them. It is possible to believe a brand to be of high quality, dependable, competent and interesting, but still not a good fit for a prospective client or customer - this is where your personality and going the extra distance comes in so that word-of-mouth gets your over the line.

Brand superiority - do your customers and clients believe that your brand offers them advantages that other brands can’t or don’t deliver? If your products don’t stand out, or if they are commodity type products, then you can still achieve this belief in superiority through your customers' overall experience with your brand. Again, your personality and going out of your way to make your customers’ experience exceed their expectations can be your ticket to brand superiority.

 

Incorporating these categories into your social media strategy capitalises on social media’s interactive and relationship building qualities. Using your personality to deliver content that fosters the formation of favourable responses from your audience is perfect for the social platform. Compare achieving the above via traditional marketing and advertising channels to the now ubiquitous social platforms we have available to us today. Just makes you want to throw your hands up in the air and say ‘YEAH’, doesn’t it?!

 

4. Finally is relationships - creating brand resonance

This is all about the relationship your customers and clients have with you and your brand, and how ‘in sync’ they feel with what the brand represents. This is where engagement, loyaltybrand advocation and a sense of community happens.

 

Engagement happens when customers and clients are willing to spend time, energy and money on the brand in a way that goes above and beyond the exchange of goods and services. Engagement is a fundamental characteristic of a mutually beneficial relationship and can be expressed through comments on your blog or social media channels, participation in competitions and other promotional activities, attend events hosted by your brand and tell their friends and colleagues about how good you do what you do.

 

Loyalty means your customers and clients will be back for more products and services from you rather than searching the market to satisfy their needs. Loyalty not only produces repeat business, but it increases the frequency, as well as the quantity purchased, feeds engagement, community and evangelism.

 

Brand advocation is where your happy clients and customers become evangelists for your brand. When humans are happy, it’s just in our nature to share it. Word-of-mouth has always been and will always be the most powerful form of marketing because we trust our friends more than we trust companies, brands, and well, marketing.

 

Community is important to people because we’re human - identifying with others is what we do. When a brand creates a community around their values, customers and clients can express an affiliation with others they perceive to share similar values. And when a community is created, the strength, reach and influence of that community greatly exceeds that of the individuals of which it is comprised.

 

Social media as a marketing platform offers itself so well to these principles that I wonder how we ever achieved these outcomes without it. Of course it was done, but there were so many more barriers to entry for the small business owner. The expense, the media and agency gatekeepers, the mass marketing channels and the disempowerment of small business to name a few.

 

Luckily you and I now live in a new era. Traditional marketing principles still stand, but we have better, more accessible ways of implementing them and have greater potential to achieve better results. Social media plays a massive role in that change and in the opportunity that now exists to take traditional marketing and make it better, do work that’s more meaningful, reach more people and change more lives.

 

Your brand, coupled with sound marketing principles incorporated into a contemporary social media strategy, can be a part of this brave new world.

I hope you enjoyed this, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thank you,

Andrea

Photo credit: View from the top of the Rock, New York, by Dimitry B. via Flickr

How social media can build a small business brand - part 1

The concept of building a brand can often be overwhelming and confusing for small business owners. You wouldn’t be alone if you thought your brand was your logo, period. And that brand building meant incorporating that logo into more stuff. The truth is that you wouldn’t be completely wrong either - brand certainly does incorporate logos and images, but it also reaches far beyond these expressions of brand, making branding both a powerful and daunting concept.

 

My goal for my clients is always to break down the jargon of marketing and explain things in ways that are easy to understand, relate to, and most of all apply. I love to be able to show them that when you do break it down, marketing doesn’t have to be a confusing and intimidating bunch of corporate academic voodoo, but in fact, should be fairly common sense. The reason for that is that marketing is about people and relationships, always was, always will be. It can get a bit fancy as it moves more towards applied psychology, but even still, at the end of the day, it’s just about people, their behaviour and their relationships.

 

This got me thinking when a client of mine wanted to know about the science behind a social media marketing strategy. She hasn't used a great deal of social media in her business and although she’s committed to implementing a strategy to grow her brand, she was really keen to know why and how it works, and what she’d actually be achieving. Most of all, she recognised that a social strategy was a sizeable commitment and wanted to be sure it was able to deliver results based on traditional marketing principles. A very good question.

 

… and the answer turned out to be rather long, so I’ve split it into 2 parts. In this post, I’ll cover the first 2 steps, identity and meaning, and then tomorrow, I’ll cover response and relationships...

 

Traditional marketing principles commonly teach that there are several steps involved in building a brand, and that each step builds on succeeding at the preceding level. Let’s strip out the jargon, explain them in plain English and see how those steps play out in a social media marketing strategy;

 

1. The first step is identity - who are you and what do you do?

This is all about establishing an awareness of the brand, where you want to help your customers, potential and existing, to understand what you do.

You want them to know what product or services category the brand operates in, and which products and services are sold under that brand. In other words, you want to establish an awareness about what products and services your brand represents without people having to read much or to go to too much trouble to find out. If they don't already know what you do, you want to make it pretty obvious for them, and if they do know what you do, then you want represent than consistently so they're not confused by the brand.

 

In order to establish your brand identity, you need to get it in front of a lot of people and educate them on what it is you do. Social media not only gives you access to the masses, but because of its interactive nature, enables you to educate them about your brand through conversations and images. Through social conversations and sharing valuable content, you teach your audience to associate your brand with the products and services you provide, which in turn, serve their needs.

 

2. Then comes meaning - how well do you meet needs?

This is where you want to influence the different types of associations your target market links to your brand. That is, the meaning they attach to your brand beyond what you say you do. This is primarily achieved through the performance of your products and/or services, and imagery. So you want your products and services to have been developed in response to what your target market wants and needs, and you want to deliver those products and services in a way that exceeds their expectations. That way your customers and clients not only know what products and services your provide, but they know how good they are. Your brand now represents what you do as well as how well you do it - there’s a quality and performance aspect.

 

And what do customers whose expectations have been exceeded do next? They begin to form beliefs about your brand, they pay closer attention to what you do and say and they start to tell others. Wouldn’t you like a tool to help you influence, capture and share these responses? An active social media presence means you can.

 

This is also where you can use imagery, as mentioned above, to influence the more abstract aspects of the brand. If your product or services are the tangible things that exceed customers’ expectations, then imagery helps to imbed those associated meanings. Images in the context of social media can be used to encourage favourable associations between your brand and the values of your audience. For example, your brand might use images to form strong associations with environmentally friendly practises, recyclable packaging, a small carbon footprint and sustainable living. Or, for another industry, it might be the creation of wealth, financial security, family and shared experiences, travel and attainment.

 

Remember that a picture speaks a thousand words and think about the feelings and associations you want your audience to conjure in response to the images you use in conjunction with your brand. It's well documented that social media posts that contain images elicit more engagement, that is, more likes, shares, retweets, pins and comments. Now isn't that a happy coincidence?

 

So you can already start to see how these traditional branding principles transfer perfectly to the world of social media. Access to an audience of millions means it’s almost a given that your particular target market is also well represented and accessible. Social media loves images and stories - it’s how we’ve chosen to use this medium to create and foster relationships and makes establishing your brand identity and meaning a whole lot easier than it used to be.

 

In tomorrow’s blog post, I’ll continue with steps 3 and 4 in building a brand; response and relationships. It’s exciting to think that traditional tried and true marketing science can not only be successfully applied to a modern tool, but applied in a way that has the potential to produce better results.

Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow,

Andrea

Photo credit: View from the top of the Rock, New York, by Dimitry B. via Flickr

Why Facebook's a great place to start for a small business social media strategy

Whether you’re just starting out in business, or have been in business for a while and are just starting out on your social media marketing journey, Facebook is a great place to start.

From a social media perspective, Facebook is still the big daddy of social media - almost everyone you know and do business with has an account, and if not, then they’re at least going to be aware of Facebook. Not only does that mean it’s an easy place to start in terms of a platform you’re already somewhat familiar with, but you’re also likely to have a list of friends who can support you instantly. That coupled with Facebook’s massive user reach, means you have an incredible opportunity to achieve greater exposure for your business and reach more of your target market.

When you’re starting out in business, or wanting to grow your existing business, then your main objectives are going to be increasing your brand exposure, your brand awareness and, naturally, increasing your sales as a result.

Increasing your overall business exposure means that more people are seeing your brand and being exposed to your business. It’s why big brands advertise and use mass media tools like billboards - they want eyes on their brands. The more eyes on their brand, the more they can increase awareness and the more likely they are to reach their target.

Increasing your brand awareness means that your brand is being recognised by potential customers and clients AND that they make the correct associations about what it is you do and what you stand for. You need exposure to build awareness, but exposure alone is useless if there’s no awareness. No good having all that exposure if people think you’re a pet shop, when actually you’re a vet.

Facebook is a tool for achieving these goals by capitalising on their enormous audience, reach and utility in a way that’s in alignment with your brand and business vision, without an enormous advertising budget. And because Facebook is interactive, instead of just broadcasting a message, you can engage and interact with your audience - something billboards have never quite got the hang of. In every day terms, Facebook is a smarter billboard that lets you not only get your message out to a huge audience, but enables you to build a community as well. It’s been said that content is the new advertising and certainly in terms of social media, the interactive component is key. Now you can promote your business, look after your clients and customers, build your community, and increase your revenue, in a more efficient, scalable and wider-reaching way.

Engagement is key because that’s what’s going to build your community and building a community around your brand is where the exposure and awareness gets real and when people actually want to interact and be a part of what you do. Building a thriving community has always been important in business because it’s how we achieve loyalty (repeat customers) and brand advocates (our word-of-mouth brand evangelists). People expect more from the people and brands they give their loyalty to and in return, their advocacy of those brands will be greatly amplified due to our social media connectivity. That means that just as your brand is able to achieve greater exposure through social media, so can the word-of-mouth of the people who love what you do.

***I really need an info graphic right about here to illustrate the amplification effect that social media has on brand exposure, brand awareness and word-of-mouth advocates … I’ll get onto that and post it separately in the next couple of days***

A solid Facebook marketing plan is a great place to start, but don’t be fooled - it’s a long-term investment that requires a decent commitment of time and energy to reap sustainable results in the future. If you’re expecting thousands of likes and follows in a matter of weeks with little more effort than what’s required to set up the page itself, you’ve been mislead. Building a loyal and thriving community takes time and there are very few shortcuts that deliver any meaningful outcomes.

Black hat tactics such as buying likes and followers are not sustainable, they don’t deliver good business outcomes and can be extremely damaging to your brand in the long run. It’s human nature, or rather, our collective social media training reflects our human nature to view the number of likes and followers a page, business or person as an indication of popularity, authority and success. Of course likes and followers are one form of social proof, but what does it really mean? The truth is that having thousands of likes and follows probably will influence people’s perception of your brand or business online, but does that justify paying for fake ones? Maybe it does, maybe not. That’s your call, but just remember that at the end of the day it’s your real relationships with real people that make your business a success or not. You can’t engage fake likes, you can’t have a relationship with them, they won’t tell their friends about you and they certainly won’t buy your products or services.

Building a genuine, thriving community that will increase the exposure, brand awareness and loyalty around your business is only made possible by leading with generosity, nurturing your community and delivering outstanding value to your existing and potential clients and customers. The tools have changed and a greater reach may be easier to achieve, but people haven’t changed. The reason a successful Facebook presence takes time to cultivate and to see real results that convert to revenue is because it’s about people and relationships - those things, the real deal, take time, just like as they do in *real* life. Facebook is an amazing tool that can give you access to many people, but how you treat them and cultivate your relationships with them is up to you and that’s always been the same.