Social Media Simplified

On Being Social

This past year I joined Toastmasters and it's been an amazing experience. I never expected to love it as much as I do. Last night I gave my third speech and because the topic was social media I thought I would share it with you here.

Keep in mind that it is written as a speech, so just imagine you are in a room listening to me give it as you read it :)


Social media and technology get a bad rap.

“It’s a waste of time”

“People don’t have real conversations any more”

“In my day this…."   

"In my day that…”

Have you ever heard any of those things? Have you ever SAID any of those things?

Today, fellow Toastmasters, I’m going to talk to you about why social media is more than just taking Buzzfeed quizzes and sharing pictures of your lunch. It can actually be incredibly connecting and instead of people no longer being social and forming “genuine” relationships, they’re actually just doing what we’ve always done in a new and often more effective way. After this speech I hope you will have a new appreciation for all the amazing opportunities to find friendships and community online.

Let me start with a story. As I’m sure many of you in this room know, becoming a mother can be really lonely. You’re never alone… but you’re always alone.

Depending on your baby…. or babies…. You may feel like it’s really difficult to leave the house, or maybe you’re just too tired to leave the house after being up all night with a baby…. or babies…

When I was pregnant with my twins I discovered the beauty of Twitter. When I was at home stuck under a baby… (or babies…) I could still find someone to talk to.

I could find someone to talk to in the middle of the day when everyone else I knew was at work, and I could find someone to talk to in the middle of the night when everyone else I knew was asleep. Did you know there is actually a hashtag for moms who are looking to find other moms who are tired and sleep deprived and looking for someone to talk to? #zombiemoms

Not only do new moms have a place to go to escape the loneliness of new motherhood, they have a place to go to to ask questions when they’re nervous or insecure, to share funny stories with people who will understand what they’re going through, and complain to people they know have been there too.

While this is an example of being a new mom, the examples of people who are otherwise isolated who can find a community are endless. People who feel too bullied to leave home, people who are sick and can’t get out of the house, people who just have a hard time in social situations.

Social media helps people who feel isolated find community.

What about those who aren’t isolated by situation, but by discomfort? I’m sure you’ve all seen people who are on their mobile devices at parties or at a restaurant.

I’m in no way suggesting that that’s a great thing to do, but I do want you to consider that a lot of the people who are doing that are doing it as a crutch. They’re uncomfortable in social situations and for lack of knowing what to say or how to interact. They’re using their technology to escape. They would have been the same people reading a book in the corner during a Christmas party or hiding in the basement watching TV 20 or 30 years ago.

Access to technology and social media provide safe places for people who are uncomfortable in big groups to still have social interactions. 

There are articles that I see going round fairly frequently that intrigue me. They’re all called something along the lines of Why is it so hard to make friends after 30?

It's harder to make friends once you’ve left school, but we all still need to be able to make new friends. The thing is, we’re also pickier about who we’re friends with the older we get – aren’t we? We want to feel like we have something in common with people other than their locker is next to yours.

You can find your community online. You can find the people who like to talk about what you like to talk about.

I have a friend whose daughter was born with a very rare disease. She’s found a group of parents online who also have kids with the same disease online where she can talk openly and honestly with people who understand what she’s going through. The disease is so rare that there are only dozens in this group from all around the world - before social media she wouldn't have been able to have these kinds of discussions.

My husband loves online poker. He’s found a community of people who like to talk about poker and who take it as seriously as he does and we’ve even been on vacations with people he’s met through that community.

I have met other female business owners who not only understand what it means to run a business from home while raising a family, but who also live in Ottawa. Not only are they in my city, they're in my suburb. I met almost all of them online. There are three of them in the room right now.

Social media can help you find your tribe. 

There is no doubt that people spend more time on their technology wasting time than they probably should – many of us are guilty of that.

But when it comes to technology making people less social while they hide behind screens all the time? I can’t disagree more.

Next time you see someone with their face in their phone – consider that they might be having a conversation with someone in a space that feels safer and more comfortable to them than the one that they’re actually physically in.

Next time someone talks to you about Facebook, don’t just think about it as a place that people go to waste time and play pretend farming games but as a place they’ve found safe places to talk about the things that are meaningful to them.

Because of social media I have the biggest group of friends that I see in person on a regular basis than I’ve ever had it my life.

Because of social media I never need to feel alone and I know I can always find someone to help me when I need it.

Social media could help you be more social too.

Social tools for business

Social Tools for Business

I'm at the cottage and I am thinking about all the online tools out there and how valuable they can be for businesses. Now, more than ever before, business owners can communicate with their clients and potential clients quickly and effectively.

If you are a business owner who continues to struggle with how to make social media work for you then I encourage you to read through five of my favourite blog posts that offer up valuable social media tips on some of my favourite social channels:

1)   Should you be on Instagram?

If you are a business owner who doesn’t understand the value of posting pictures on a regular basis, then read this post to find out if you’re missing out on a tool that could be helping you reach an audience you didn’t even know existed! If you are a visual business, you should most probably be on Instagram. Click here to learn more.

2) The Value of Recommendations and Endorsements

LinkedIn is a professional social channel and is the best place to showcase your accreditations, skills and accomplishments. It is also a place to connect and network with new professional connections and prove that you are worth working with. It is for this reason that you should learn and use the recommendation and endorsement features on LinkedIn. These features allow people to see what you are all about and have to offer without having to connect with you first. To learn more about the value of LinkedIn, click here.

3)   Why should my small business use Facebook?

Believe it or not there are still small businesses who are not on Facebook – or they are on as a personal profile or group and do not have a business page.  There are advantages to being on Facebook as a business and this post goes back to the basics – for those who still need convincing. To read the full post, click here.

4)   The Twitter Rules of Thirds

If you are new to Twitter, or you have an account, but instead of using it for business use it for news updates instead, this blog post will help you understand what you should really be using this conversational social channel for. Twitter is not as time consuming as you may think! Used correctly for about ten minutes a day can help grow your audience substantially. Click here to learn more about Twitter.

5)   Periscope – What is it and why should I care?

This is a new social app and it is taking the world by storm!  Periscope allows you to live stream from your cell phone and it’s free to broadcast and view. There is a lot of potential in this simple app, and I have seen business owners use it to share tips, product reveals and more!  It’s a quick and easy tool that can be used to connect with your audience in real time – from anywhere in the world. Click here to read more on Periscope.

So, as I connect with you miles from my office I hope you find these highlighted posts helpful as you continue to explore the endless possibilities social media brings for small businesses. 

Planning your social content: a step-by-step guide

The best way to effectively use social media for your small business is to have a plan. Since that is definitely easier to say than do, I thought today I would break down step-by-step how to come up with a simple plan.

1) Know what you're trying to achieve.

I've written about this topic quite a bit in the past, so check out some of those posts, but the simple explanation is to figure out why you're using social media - we all have different reasons beyond "make more money," which is key for most of us. 

2) Know who you're talking to.

Different audiences are on different channels and different audiences like different kinds of content. You need to know who you're talking to so they feel like what you're saying is for them. If you're too vague or general nobody will feel like you're talking to them, which defeats the purpose of what you're doing.

3) What do you want them to know.

This is SO important. This drives all of your content. What do you want people to know about you and what do you want people to know about what you do. 

4) Pick your channels

It doesn't make sense for you to be on every social channel. You don't have the time or resources for that. Start with a couple and once those are completely under control you can grow from there. 

My top three social media choices (without knowing your audience so this is flexible!) are for you to have an email newsletter, a blog and Facebook.

If however, your audience is very business-to-business, I might prioritize LinkedIn over Facebook.

If your audience is under 25, I might prioritize Instagram over Facebook.

If writing and time is hard for you, I would leave the blog until after you have Facebook and a newsletter set up.

5) Know your numbers

Knowing your numbers is so important in all aspects of business. You need to know where you're at now so you can tell if you're growing.

Set up a spreadsheet or table that lists:

- Facebook likes
- "Talking about" numbers on Facebook
- Twitter followers
- Instagram followers
and so on and so forth

Make sure that Google Analytics or some other analytics tool is set up on your website and track:

- Visits
- Unique visits
- Page views
- Referral sources

You are then going to want to track these numbers monthly to see if what you're doing is working. We want to make sure that the effort you're putting in is worth it to you - you're a busy person!

6) Start sharing your knowledge

Take 10-15 minutes and write down as many tips as you can about something.

Are you a realtor? What are great ways to get your house ready for sale?

Are you a hairdresser? How should your clients be taking care of their hair between cuts and colours?

Are you a nutritionist? What are some great ways to make healthy food on the fly?

The goal is to have a list of one or two sentence tips that you'll be able to use later on and to realize just how much content you can write in a short period of time when you have a specific topic to write about.

Do the same for a few other topics and you'll have a lot of content ready to go!

7) Don't think you need to create it all

You want to share content that's of value to your audience. There is a LOT of content that already exists that your audience will really appreciate having access to. If it backs up your key messages, the things you really want people to know, use THAT content instead of having to write your own.

Whenever you're browsing the internet or Facebook and you see an interesting article, a funny joke or a video that you really like, think about whether or not it would add value to your audience while still staying in line with your key messages. If it does, save it and you'll be able to use that content later!

8) Evaluate

You have your baseline numbers, make sure to check and see what's working, what isn't, and how you can shift and change to improve.

A plan doesn't need to be extensive to get you going on the right path. If you want more help figuring all of this out for Facebook and Twitter, we have a program called Simple Start. It's on sale right now for $39 (regular $99) while I work to update it from the old Wellman Wilson branding. The price will go up once it's been revamped so now's the time to invest!

How do you schedule content?

Don't get overwhelmed at the idea of posting content on social channels regularly, write it in bulk (or get someone else to do it) and then schedule it! (Here's some inspiration for finding good content to schedule too.)

How do I schedule my social content?

There are lots of different tools that can do this. I'm going to talk about scheduling straight to Facebook and two tools that will let you schedule to multiple other channels. 

Scheduling directly to Facebook

I can't help but be a bit of a pessimist when it comes to Facebook not penalizing third party apps when posting to your Facebook page. That means that I recommend that when you schedule content to Facebook, you do it right in Facebook.

The good news is that it's really simple. When you go to your Facebook page, write the post as you would if you were posting it right away. Instead of clicking post, click to the right of post and select Schedule

Editing or making changes is just as easy by going to the very top of your Facebook page and selecting Publishing Tools and then going in to your scheduled posts tab on the left.

Using Hootsuite for scheduling

Hootsuite is a tool that I use more for engaging and organizing my content (mostly Twitter in fact) but it has a lot of capabilities for scheduling. A free account lets you connect 3 accounts and a paid account will let you add more accounts and more users. 

Hootsuite connects to:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook (personal account, pages and groups)
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Wordpress

Scheduling is easy and you can schedule the same content to multiple channels (as long as that makes sense - remember that most of the time you want to use different language and tone depending on the channel). Select the channel you want to schedule to from the dropdown on the left and select the calendar to open up the scheduling options.

There are two easy ways to find the content afterwards if you want to change anything. Either select the publisher icon on the left hand toolbar (it looks like a paper airplane)

or create a stream for scheduled content, which is my preferred way of doing it. 

Using Buffer to schedule content

The tool that I use the most for scheduling is Buffer. Like Hootsuite it has limited capability unless you have a paid account (which I have).

Buffer connects to:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook (personal, page or group)
  • LinkedIn (personal or page)
  • Google+
  • Pinterest

You can schedule to multiple channels at once and easily access your scheduled content by selecting your channel on the left hand side and viewing the queue tab.

bufferqueue.png

Buffer also has a plugin you can install to Chrome that makes it easy for you to schedule content as you're browsing the web. It even has an advanced schedule that lets you schedule the content to post more than once, which is handy for scheduling your own new content.

 

Which tool should you pick?

A lot of what you pick comes down to preference. Scheduling will take a lot of the daily pressure off of your online marketing work, so even though learning a new tool can feel like a big time commitment it will save you time in the long run - for real :) 

I find Buffer a bit easier to use because everything is bigger and there is more white space. Hootsuite has the ability to see more at once which can make it a more useful dashboard for some. I recommend you give both a try with the free version and see if you have a preference.

Leave me a comment and let me know what tool you have been using for scheduling and what you like about it. I know there are some I didn't mention too!