The problem with Fakebook and filters

Many of you who know me personally know that once a month I mentor a 13 year old girl called El.  It’s part of the Girls Out Loud Big Sister Programme which targets the girls who sit in the middle of the cohort who simply cruise along. These girls are in danger of becoming invisible purely because they are neither seriously disruptive, nor super academically gifted. They struggle to find their place and often get lost in the noise, either hiding in the corner or looking for validation in all the wrong places.

In the short time I’ve being involved in this wonderful cause I’ve been struck by the impact social media has on these young girls. The insane amounts of pressure they face day in, day out via their online interactions has blown my mind (and I consider myself not to be terribly naïve in this particular area).

Young people (let’s not pretend it’s all about the girls) are exposed to so many things which increase their anxiety around appearance and cause them to focus on their body image.  Society’s obsession with celebrity culture creates an unhealthy image of what we should all aspire to, with many of us forgetting just how much airbrushing goes in to the perfect image.

However, that is nothing new and sadly, isn’t going away any time soon.  What does seem to be on the increase though is the proliferation of social media channels focussing on nothing but image.  The likes of Snapchat and Instagram promote unrealistic messages of how people, especially young girls, “should” look.  If you don’t conform to the “correct” standards you can easily become ostracised.

It’s easy to sit here in the cold light of day and query why anyone would care how many “likes” their latest photo has received, but when social interactions are based on negative or positive comments and ratings, friendships become nothing more than competitions. It is an unhealthy way to live – but to remove yourself from the situation ensures you become an outsider and are excluded in the real world as well.

The problem is in a world where social media dominates, we have fallen in to the trap of sharing almost everything.  Let’s face it, a night out didn’t happen unless there are countless photos all over your chosen platform.  There’s little point in arguing such a good night would captivate your attention so much you’d be able to avoid the lure of the selfie in the first place.

The problem is filters existed long before Instagram came along. When you are in control of what you share it makes sense that you only share the best. It’s human nature and there’s nothing wrong with that. Or is there?

When you post photos of you working in your perfectly manicured garden along with a status describing your perfect life and how you have it all #LuckyGirl #LivingTheDream #Freedom – doesn’t it make it a little harder to yell for help when it goes a little wrong?

Does the inherent undertone of “I have it all, come be like me” not set you apart and put you on a precarious pedestal?  I worry so much that as a society we are all playing the Fakebook game a little too well, and I fear what impact this is having on our mental health.

If, we the sage adults are able to fall in to this trap of pretend perfection, what hope is there for our young teens?

 

 

 

Tragedy is not a marketing opportunity

This is a blog post I never thought I’d write, but unfortunately tragic events are becoming an increasing part of our everyday lives.  In the last few weeks we have had the MEN bombing, London Bridge attacks and just yesterday the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

I know there are far more incidents worthy of comment occurring throughout the world, so please forgive me for focussing solely on those closer to home.

When breaking news occurs, and starts to dominate social media what should you, as a business and brand do?  How do you react to it, and indeed should you make a comment at all?  The reality is no social media platform comes with an etiquette guide to troubling events, and whilst we may all suggest relying on common sense, in the heat of the moment such an apparently common attribute is often lacking.

Here’s the first things you should consider to avoid getting it wrong.

Ask yourself why

In the wake of a tragedy, celebrity death, terrorist attack or natural disaster you may feel compelled to say something.  That’s undoubtedly human nature in this constantly signed-in culture we live in, but stop for a second and ask yourself why you want to comment.

Just because everyone else is saying something doesn’t mean you have to. Sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to say nothing – you certainly shouldn’t say something just because you want to jump on the band wagon.

Equally, if you do want to say something consider whether it has to be via your company.  Is the current event or situation linked in any way to your industry?  If not there is every chance any comment you make or any links to the trending hashtag will be seen as a cheap marketing ploy. If that is the case then trust me, any clicks and interactions you get off the back of it will not be worth the negative responses you will foster in the vast majority of people.

If your industry or business is connected in some way to what’s happened then people will undoubtedly expect you to comment.  Failing to do so can be seen as being as unnatural as those who try to force the issue.  Don’t feel you can’t say anything, just make sure you put some thought in to it before you press send.

Get the message right

I confess I was appalled this morning by a post I saw on a local businesses Facebook page.  Late last night (less than 24 hours after the Grenfell Tower fire started) a letting agent posted a photo of himself when he had a brief stint as a fireman over four years ago.

Knowing the gentleman concerned I have little doubt the tone was meant to be one of solidarity and genuine compassion for those involved. However, the use of two photographs featuring himself ensured the post was solely about him. The associated content was just as equally focussed on him, with a statement that he had previously lobbied the local fire service and council for the installation of fire alarms to be made a legal requirement in private rentals (before this became ratified by government).

I was left feeling he was looking for external validation and applause – all on the back of a tragedy in which countless people have lost their homes, possessions and in all too many cases, their lives. This is no doubt not the case, but the shoddy way the posting was handled meant I know I am not the only one who was left querying the motivations.

This business had genuine reasons to be commenting on this tragedy – I do not dispute that for one second. It is simply the way it’s been done that was entirely wrong. No real message was passed on, there was no benefit to the wider public, it was instead “look at me, I’m wonderful”.

A far better response would have been to remind people (a few days later) that if you live in a rental property it might be your landlords responsibility to ensure there are suitable alarms and detectors in the property, but that it remains your duty to check they are working at regular intervals.

The above message could actually save lives.

The original one cannot.

Err on the side of caution

If you are not sure if what you are posting is relevant to your business, audience or industry, but you still want to say something, it is often wise to err on the side of caution and simply post on your personal accounts instead.

Let the message come from you, not your brand; at least then either way you cannot be accused of seeking validation or promotion.  Get it wrong and people are unlikely to forget quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

Every small business should do this to gain new customers

Last week we wrote a blog about how being a small business can actually be an advantage when it comes to social media marketing, specifically when it comes to building relationships.  It seems to have resonated with a few people, so we thought we would follow up this week looking at another advantage – collaboration.

As a small business you are well placed to make strong connections with your local community.  This can include your consumers and potential clients, but also other businesses based within the area.  When that happens you open up the possibility of combining efforts and therefore potentially reducing your spend, whilst increasing your reach.

For example, I have a client who sells travel insurance.  Following a few meetings with a local spray tan company they struck up a fantastic deal whereby if you purchased a course of spray tans, you could obtain a discount on your travel insurance for your next holiday.

My client saw an increase in enquiries (which he was able to convert) without having to do any additional advertising himself. Equally, the offer went the other way so as one partner isn’t putting in all the effort.

It’s a very simple and effective way of getting more bang for your back – and it helps remind you, as a solopreneur that you’re not actually alone in this big bad world of business.

Larger businesses and corporations are unlikely to strike up such relationships, if for no other reason than there’s a lot more to consider and the legal department is likely to scrutinise any suggestions put forward.

Think about what you have to offer, and if anyone in the local area sells something that could enhance or compliment your product and service, and reach out to them.

The worst they can say is no.

Small businesses have the advantage when it comes to social media

Whenever I start talking about social media marketing at networking events there’s always a couple of people that roll their eyes. There’s lots of different reasons for their knee-jerk reaction, and I certainly don’t judge any of them for it.  For many, unfortunately, they’ve had bad experiences of people who have tried to sell them the idea of marketing to the masses – and they’ve been burnt by costly, yet fruitless forays in to digital advertising.

Of course, it’s not that sort of thing I’m talking about. But that’s the point with knee-jerk reactions; they’re not always on target.

However, I digress.

One of the biggest barriers I come against when it comes to talking about SMM with potential clients is their own perceptions.  Many argue that they’re too small to really make any impact with Facebook or Twitter, and therefore don’t see the value of “throwing money” at it.

I agree, simply throwing money at anything and hoping for the best seems like a bit too much of a gamble – and that’s coming from a girl with a thing for the horses.

No matter how big, or small your business, you have to have a plan. That means you need to know what it is you’re trying to achieve, how much money you have to achieve it, and over what time period you’re going to work on it. It’s more complicated than that of course, but that’s the nuts and bolts.

Most of that will be determined by you and any consultant you decide to get in to help; however, there is one thing that applies to every small business.  You can make a huge impact regardless of your size. In fact, I’d go so far as to argue that small businesses might have the advantage when it comes to social marketing.

Think about your small business and any larger scale competitors you may have.  Don’t focus on the things you don’t have such as numerous staff, a large IT department or a huge media budget. Instead, think about what you can do that they can’t.

You can reach out to your local community and be more focussed on the individuals within that community.  You can build genuine relationships.  As a small business you’re more likely to remember Jean from the last time she commented, and you’re definitely in a better position to reply to her when she does reach out to you.  Faceless large corporation couldn’t give a monkey’s about Jean, she’s just order #45789.

Equally, just because you don’t have loads to throw at social media doesn’t mean you can’t get a reaction out of your audience. People love to talk and share, so why not ask them to post pictures of them using your product. Get them to add reviews, or ask questions that they need your answers to. Ask them for their feedback and suggestions, and then act upon them so they know they’ve been listened to.

Being small is a huge advantage when it comes to being genuine.

 

Why size really doesn’t matter

Whenever I talk to people about their current business activity on social media, they often complain about the number of people who follow them. It doesn’t matter if it’s Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook – the number of followers or fans always seems to equate to success as far as they’re concerned.

Big is better, and biggest is best. Apparently.

The problem seems to be even worse when they start to compare the size of their following with those of their competitors.

“Well, John has 500 followers, and we only have 390. No wonder he’s doing better than us.”

I confess in this instance I’m always keen to discover how they know John is doing better.  Because he says so? Well, he’s hardly going to admit sales are down and he’s not sure how he’s going to pay the bills next month is he?

We always assume others have got it together and we don’t, but that’s rarely the reality.

However, let’s make one thing perfectly clear – a larger following does not necessarily mean more business.

Forget online and social media. Let’s look at the real world.

Imagine you have a shop in a dingy back street with very little passing trade. Your competitor, on the other hand is located in the middle of the High Street, and has over 1,000 people pass by their door every day.

Who is doing better in terms of trade?

In all honesty, you have no idea.

More people have the potential to see their shop than yours, but does that equate to more business?  It all means nothing if no one is actually going in and buying anything.

For all you know the five customers you have who actually pop in and purchase exceeds the one he has who window shops.  Plus, your rent is probably lower.

Who’s doing better now?

Social media works in exactly the same way.  Having more followers simply means there is more opportunity for your posts to be seen by people, it doesn’t mean you’re going to do any better from it. In fact, if you have a smaller community of fans who do engage and interact with your content you are most definitely going to do better than someone who is receiving no contact from their audience.

This is the precise reason why I find it so frustrating when people “buy” followers.  Yes, for a mere £20 (or less) you can bump your audience by 20,000.  You may think that looks impressive, you might even assume it gives you a certain amount of credibility – but does it?

There is no “search pages with large followers” option when it comes to Facebook.  The only way a complete random person is going to stumble across your page is if you pay for an ad, or one of your genuine followers interacts with your content.  A paid for, made up profile is not going to do that, and therefore there is simply no benefit to going down this route.

Instead of looking for quick fixes that you think make you look good, take the time to build genuine relationships with your target audience and existing clients.  Reach out to them, ask them questions, thank then when they do respond and most importantly, stop just trying to sell to them.

If you’re not sure how to build relationships online, get in touch with Lu at Time Saving Heroes today – we are always happy to offer some advice. Call 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk

 

 

Your message is not important to us

Despite the impression I like to give, I am only human, and that means even I the-ever-writing-Lu can find it hard at times to come up with content.  Thankfully this week I’ve been given a bit of a hand by some really bad customer service experiences on social media.

One of the most popular services we provide at Time Saving Heroes is social media management.  Whilst we offer a whole host of services in this area, for the most part people just want regular content posting out via their networks.  However, I always try to remind people that it’s not about what they sell or do, but how they engage and build relationships with their audience/customers.

Some people get that, some just don’t.

Never is this more pronounced than when you look at how people manage their business pages Facebook Messenger.  On countless occasions I have stumbled across a page, found the content interesting, liked it, commented and proceeded to follow.  In time I have found myself actually needing to find out something – so I hit the trusty “Send Message” button and wait.

Sometimes I have to wait a few hours – which even the most impatient of individuals can probably live with.

Most times, I have to wait a week, or longer.

In some instances no reply comes at all.

For those of you who have Facebook business pages can I just ask – why are you taking the time to set up a page, fill it with content and to add all your contact details only to ignore your potential customers when they bother to reach out to you?

What the Hell is the point?!

Not only are you potentially missing out on a sale in the here and now, but actually you are leaving a really bad taste in someone’s mouth.  Having managed numerous business pages over the last few years I totally get how annoying “the public” can be.  The seemingly endless barrage of questions that are time consuming to respond to – and they don’t end up buying anyway.  Yes, I get it, but sorry buttercup, that’s what you’re there for.  It’s called customer service.

It’s like having a phone, and never bothering to answer the bloody thing!

If you really don’t want people to get in touch with you via direct messaging, don’t offer it as a method of communication.  And if you are going to offer it, make sure you manage it properly.

If you don’t have the time, then you need Time Saving Heroes.

Are you making the most of the power of word of mouth?

What’s the most important thing when it comes to growing your business? Is it the amount of money you have in your marketing budget? Perhaps it’s your current customers? Maybe it’s developing a new product line or USP.

The reality is there’s no one right answer.  There are plenty of things you need to take into account, and must stay on top of if you really want to make a massive impact and take home the lion’s share of the potential market.

However, one thing I find that often gets overlooked is referrers.

When I talk to business owners looking to get in to social media marketing they often want to focus on their target audience – the people they can immediately sell to.  Of course these people are essential to the success of your business; without these people you won’t make money. However, you don’t just access these people from direct sales. You also rely heavily on word of mouth. And if you don’t currently, you should.

Advertising costs money.

Marketing costs money, and a heck of a lot of time.

You can’t necessarily avoid either of these expenses, but you could add to it for free if you utilise the power of your brand ambassadors.

Last week I had a chat with a woman who runs a domestic cleaning company. She is doing well enough for herself, has 25 members of staff, and isn’t exactly panicking over how to pay her bills at the end of the month. However, she’s the first to admit that sales are stagnant.

She doesn’t spend money on adverts, but does three separate networking events in her local area which takes up over 10 hours of her time each week, and costs her over £300 per month.  When challenged, she admitted she didn’t get as much back as she’d like for her efforts to be cost effective.

When challenged further, she confessed she did get “leads” from her networking colleagues, but by the time she got them, and had a chance to react to them, they’d gone cold.  Further discussion lead to her realising part of the problem was the fact her networking buddies couldn’t easily tag her in to conversations.

For example, one night her colleague saw that a friend had posted on Facebook looking for a recommendation for a cleaner. Dutifully he had posted the right contact details – but as the company in question didn’t have a social media presence he was only able to supply a mobile contact number.

When that number is placed in a list alongside tagged Facebook company pages, which provide all the information a potential client might want, along with photos and independent reviews, it can’t really compete.

It didn’t take long for the woman in question to realise that relying on word of mouth without social media wasn’t really working for her as well as she thought it would.

No matter what your primary focus is when it comes to advertising and/or marketing, social media adds to it.  An up to date account, full of interesting information, reviews, photos and other contact information provides your business with credibility. It gives people an easy way to get in touch and keep track of you.

If you don’t bother with social media, the people on it won’t bother with you.

It really is that simple.

 

To find out more about how social media could benefit your business please get in touch by calling our hero hotline: 0161 883 2024, emailing hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk or messaging us via Twitter or Facebook.