Taking the stress out of social media

Taking the stress out of social media

Another day another bloody awareness day, penguins, vegans, sugar … it’s enough to make anyone stressed.  So it should come as no surprise that today is #StressAwarenessDay. In fact this week is #StressAwarenessWeek.  However this one is worth paying attention to (as are all the others, obviously)

It is with slight irony that the theme this year is ‘Does Hi-Tech Cause Hi-Stress’ when everything seems to be social media’s fault these days.  I’m all too well aware that social media, rather than lightening the load, is often just another thing to add in to a busy to do list.

Added to that, time spent on our phones is eating into family time, our relationships and an ability to hold a conversation without checking the latest Brexit tweets.

Whether you are running a business, marketing a business, expected to use social media as part of your role, or simply scanning Instagram in your spare time, you can suddenly realise that it’s making life difficult.

So here’s the Armadillo Handy Guide to keeping your social life stress free.

  1. Prioritise

You can’t do it all.  Don’t feel you have to be an expert on every social media platform.  Pick one that suits you, and what you’re trying to achieve, and do that one well rather than spread yourself too thinly.  Similarly, don’t feel that you have to accept every request or follow every person who follows you.  Your newsfeeds and timelines will end up overrun with rubbish and you’ll be in a permanent panic.  Streamline your Twitter feed with lists, putting certain accounts into categories which will make things easier to keep track of.  You can also get mobile notifications for people who you really don’t want to miss – meaning that you don’t have to keep checking every 5 minutes or worry that you have let something slip by.  Have a look here for more details

2. Be disciplined

We have all now heard of social media’s addictive qualities.  Those likes and shares can have the same dopamine hit just as a cigarette, so it’s important to have boundaries.  Try to check your social media at certain times of the day.  It might be over breakfast, with your mid-morning coffee, in front of The Apprentice, but having set times of the day will really help keep it all contained.  More importantly, try not to check your social media while you are also doing something else (if you learn how to do this, let me know how).  Multitasking is a fool’s errand, so if you need to focus on something TURN IT OFF.

The work like balance is even more important than ever, and even harder to maintain.  Don’t be on 24 hour call, and don’t expect those around you to be on 24 hour call either.  Remember when “I’m sorry, I was out” was enough!

You might also consider turning off your notifications.  That way you can use it when you want to, not when the world is calling.

  1. It’s all in the planning

A major cause of stress is keeping lots of plates spinning.  It can be difficult to focus if you’re constantly worrying that you haven’t put anything on Twitter this week.  There are a hundred strategic reasons why you need to plan your digital marketing, but one of the major benefits is that it removes a lot of the stress.   Sitting down and concentrating on it as one designated task can then let you forget about it for the rest of the week.  Knowing what content you need to created and when it needs creating can really streamline your time.  Scheduling important things in advance is even better. www.buffer.com has always been my scheduling tool of choice but there are plenty to choose from. In my Digital Marketing Strategy Sessions we come up with ideas and plans for a full three months, meaning you can sit back and relax.

  1. Monitor yourself

Do you know how much time you spend on your mobile phone?  Honestly?  The latest iPhone update has introduced Screentime.  This will tell you how much time you spend on each app on your phone.  You can also set limits for yourself for individual apps, and your phone as a whole.  What’s more, you can also do this for your children!  I still secretly delight at my son’s fury when his phone shuts itself down each night at 8:30.

Be realistic about how much time you are spending, and how much time you want to spend. Think hard about what effect social media is having on you.  The news is fairly depressing at the moment.  Be honest about whether reading it constantly is affecting your mood.  Is it adding to your stress levels?  In which case take a break.

Go read a book, go for a walk, have a conversation with a real life person.  We’ll all be here when you get back.

  1. Look for the helpers

Social Media gets a bad rap for its effects on mental health, bullying culture and trolling habits.   But it’s also a wonderful place, full of supportive people who will be more than happy to provide some support or light relief.  Social Media has shone a spotlight on mental health issues and provided a place where people can share, discover or just hang out.

Make sure you have identified your tribe to turn to when needed.  I have a list called The Biscuit List, of people on Twitter that I like to read when I’m feeling stressed and are guaranteed to make me feel better.

  1. Keep some perspective

We all know this, but you need to remember that not everything on social media is true.  You may be stressed about work, home, money, family and it can often look like everyone else has got it all figured out – but we really haven’t. Not everyone is making as much money as they say, or living their best lives, and those #makingmemories usually ended in a row in the car on the way home.

Get some social media perspective

  1. Haters gonna hate

There are undoubtedly, some wronguns on social media.  They may be people who annoy you, or are more actively aggressive.  Feel free to block.  There’s no law against it and you don’t need to justify it.  If that feels too severe a sanction, there are also more subtle things you can do.  Muting people on Twitter allows you to still follow people but not see their tweets. On Facebook, you can change your newsfeed preferences to hide certain people and pages and prioritise others.

But there is absolutely no need to put up with abuse.  I’ve reported several people for abusive comments on Twitter (these generally followed me saying something about Jeremy Clarkson) and complaints are dealt with swiftly.  Also harassment on social media is taken seriously by the police, if you feel things are getting out of hand and you feel threatened.

And finally ….

  1. Use your powers for good

Your phone can also be your friend.  These a huge range of handy apps to help take the stress out of life.  Here are my favourites

Headspace. The lovely Andy will take you through a variety of guided meditations for every woe you may have in your life from sleeplessness, anxiety, grief, or just general life grinding you down.

Runkeeper. Running is great stress reliever and Runkeeper is the best app I’ve found to help you along.  Mainly because I like the amusing voice settings that call out your progress.  ‘Conscience’ is my default setting of choice

Podcasts. I love a podcast and they are a favourite way to relax these days.  There is another blogpost in here somewhere about my Top 10 podcasts but if you’re not listening to Serial, you really should be.

So all in all, hi-tech doesn’t have to mean high stress.  Social Media can be a great business tool, social circle and entertainment source as long as you, in the words of Jerry Springer,

“take care of yourself, and each other”

Obviously another option is to take all the stress away and hand over your social media entirely.  If you’d like to talk to us about our management packages, give us a call.

3 steps to drown out the noise on Twitter

3 steps to drown out the noise on Twitter

Do you struggle to keep up with Twitter, or anything more than the last 15 minutes of your timeline?  This is one of the main concerns my clients bring me.

How many people should you follow?  It’s a fine balance between having a broad network and drowning in a sea of noisy and confusing posts.

If you are using your account for business, it’s especially important to make sure you don’t miss the good bits.

These 3 simple housekeeping tips allow you to focus on the information you need, and silence those people you don’t want to hear from right now.

So here, allow me to make your life easier.

1.  Lists

Nestling next to your likes, Lists allows you to file relevant Tweeters into carefully orchestrated and beautifully ordered lists.

You can have as many as you like, and you can choose to make these public or private.   I make most of my lists private as I don’t want to make it easy for my competitors!  They include

Social Media Experts/News, Local Business, Networking groups, Clients, Target clients

I can then select any of these lists and see only the tweets by these people.

Genius!

2.  Turn on Notifications

If someone is extra special and you never want to miss a tweet from them, then simply turn on mobile notifications.  A notification will then pop up on your mobile home screen whenever they send a tweet, whether you are in Twitter or not.

N.B.  This is useful for close contacts who don’t tweet very often.  Not so good for those who are at it constantly.

3.  Turn off Retweets

Now I’ll be the first to admit, this is not really in the spirit of Twitter but, sometimes, needs must.  If you don’t want to unfollow someone, for whatever reason, but they appear to have retweeting diarrhoea (you know who you are) then a subtle turning off of their retweets should quieten things down and they’ll never know.  This is particularly useful for those contacts who take part in every networking hour going.

So there you have it, bringing ruthless efficiency and calm to the chaos of Twitter.

You’re welcome.

Time to write your Christmas list

Time to write your Christmas list

OK, I’ll admit, there is not even the scent of Roses in the air, and I haven’t even put a jumper on yet, but many people have already begun their Christmas campaigns.

Retailers have been on this for weeks already, but you may not have planned your social media campaign yet.  However, you really need to get your skates on.  Before you know it, the John Lewis ad will air, and the season will begin in earnest.

Whatever your business, it’s not enough to Instagram a quick photo of a mince pie and hope for the best.  Even if your business doesn’t directly profit from the Christmas season, the general feelings of cheer, goodwill and bonhomie (forget the humbug) can give a warm glow to your business relationships.

So, don’t leave it until the last minute, you need a plan.

Ideally your Christmas campaign should tick a couple of boxes

  • Make people think generously about you
  • Encourage people to talk to you
  • Drive sales either in the short or long term

Depending on your business, you can thought-provoking, funny, endearing or any combination.  A thought-out approach is the key.

The festive season lends itself really well to timed campaigns: Christmas countdowns, shopping days, advent calendars, the Twelve Days of Christmas, are all things you can take inspiration from.

Now, like all good children, it’s time to sit and write your Christmas list detailing everything you would like.

Here are a couple of things you should be thinking of.

  1. Seasonal branding

On a very basic level, this means slapping a Santa hat on anything that moves (or doesn’t), but we can be a little more imaginative than that.  A seasonal theme to your logo or brand templates gives a cohesive look to any social media campaign.  These can be carried across Facebook Headers, social media posts, printed materials and even Christmas cards.

If you can, think of ways to tie in the festive season with your actual business, rather than just some random Christmassy graphics.  This campaign from Penguin last year was sleek and stylish, totally on brand and relatively inexpensive.  They carried the theme throughout all of their social media too.

penguin christmas campaign

Sites like Canva have some great templates to use or look for a graphic designer to create you something really special.

Changing your logo to be slightly festive has the added advantage of rolling out across all of your posts.

  1. Christmas movies

Remaking Elf in the office might be a bit of a stretch, but video content is a great way to add Christmas cheer.  Video messages make a fun alternative to company Christmas cards (and better for the environment too) and short, snappy videos are perfect for your social media feeds.  There are so many clever tools and apps available these days, they’re not too hard to magic up either.  Let your imagination run wild.

  1. Lend a helping hand

Make your content as useful as possible to people over the Christmas period.  Everyone is busy, in a rush and quite frankly need all the help they can get.  Hints and Tips, gift guides, how to guides all come into their own.  People will thank you for them.

  1. Encourage User Generated Content

A clever hashtag in the right place can be all you need to get people talking about your brand at Christmas time.  But there’s lots of things you can be doing offline to promote this too.  Think of Starbucks and their festive cups.  Encourage people to check in or take a photo to share.  If you’re in the Christmas gift market, make sure your tags and packaging encourage people to share their gift on social on Christmas morning. Ensure that your social media handles and campaign hashtags are clear for them to see.

  1. Do your bit for charity

Nearly all charities will have a Christmas campaign, so get involved.  That could be simply sharing their posts, volunteering or donating.  Either way, help them spread the word on your social media feeds. If you already have strong ties with an organisation, it might be worth getting in touch with them now to see if there are any joint initiatives you can do, or events you can organise.

So, don’t wait until Michael Buble is back on the radio, get your plans together now.

If you’d like more of these ideas, or more advice on putting together a campaign, then get in touch.

You can book a One-to-One Half Day Digital Strategy Session between now and Christmas.

I’ll spend some time looking at your business, and the competition. Then we’ll sit down for the morning and look at some ideas and content plans.  You’ll leave with a To Do list and a written To Do list and fully mapped out strategy for the big day.

Alternatively, sign up for one of our group workshops.  If you want to maximise the effects of your efforts, then the Facebook Advertising Masterclass will give you all the tools you use Facebook’s most powerful paid advertising tool.

For an overall refresh of your marketing, join our fundraiser workshop Kick Your Social Media Into Shapeall proceeds of this course will go to #PassTheSmile

 

The Greatest Show – what P.T. Barnum can teach you about marketing

The Greatest Show – what P.T. Barnum can teach you about marketing

The world is full of business books, podcasts and guides.  Many of them have their uses and, if you find them at the right time, they can revolutionise your business.  But sometimes, they just don’t cut it, and inspiration strikes in less conventional places.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Greatest Showman.  I took my youngest son to watch it at the cinema on a dreary Saturday morning and we loved it.  We have the soundtrack, the piano music and even a Ringmaster’s hat.  Aside from it being glorious, it came at just the right time and really struck a chord with me as to how I run my business.  There was a need for more elephants obviously, but it was more than that.

It has been out for a while, so if you haven’t seen it, grab it on DVD/TV and, if you’ve already seen it, watch it again.

The story plays a little fast and loose with the actual P.T. Barnum story, but we can forgive them a little artistic licence.  Barnum himself published his own Business self-help book in 1880 with his book, “The Art of Money-Getting or Golden Rules for Making Money,” and has inspired the likes of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs ever since, so he must have had something to say.

So, putting an eternal love for Hugh Jackman aside, here’s what you need to learn

A million dreams is all it’s going to take

Alright so he didn’t actually have his life mapped out, but he was certain he was going to be successful and never wavered from that.  He had a goal and he stuck to it.

His dream was to create a better life for himself and the woman he loved (cue music) and he was prepared to do whatever it took – even though it took years to achieve.

Having a vision for the world, and the business, you want to create makes every other decision easier, from branding, to Twitter posts.  Even if you start small, everything is better if you have a dream of where you’re heading.

The Greatest Showman “Men suffer more from imagining too little than too much”

You can risk it all and see 

Doing anything involves a little risk, and the best things offer a lot of risk.  This doesn’t always have to be financial, it can be trying something you’ve never done before and trying out some new ideas.

I’m what you might call ‘risk averse’ – I struggle to decide on a new haircut.  However, it’s something I’m working on and getting better at.  Making calculated risks and investments is essential and needs to be done.

Whilst I don’t advocate lying to the bank about your flotilla of ships, from a marketing point of view, it could be experimenting with video, more elaborate campaigns or investing in advertising and exhibitions.

The Greatest Showman “Comfort is the enemy of progress”

Be prepared to change your mind

There’s a difference between being risky and foolish, and largely the difference is tracking what works and what doesn’t.  If something isn’t working, don’t throw it out completely, but look at why it doesn’t work and think of new ideas.

Be open minded about where those ideas come from and they can come from the most unexpected places (even musicals).  For Barnum, it was his daughter’s comment that “he needed more things that are alive” and a couple of random thoughts created the circus that made his fortune.

The Greatest Showman - noone ever made a difference

Haters Gonna Hate

It was PT Barnum that said “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”

The critics hated PT Barnum, and the critics even hated The Greatest Showman (Mark Kermode, we are no longer friends) but it made no difference.  It’s not important who doesn’t like your product or service, it only matters who does.

It’s even possible to turn that criticism into a positive, if it helps to define what you are as much as what you are not.  It was Barnum’s critic that first described his show as a Circus.

Find Your Tribe

What this means is that essentially you must find your tribe.  I prefer Abraham Lincoln’s “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”

Maybe peanut shells is where it’s at.

Decide on your target audience and stick to it.  Forget the rest, concentrate on them.

The Greatest Showman “You don’t need everyone to love you, just a few good people”.

Don’t Hide Who You Are

I spend most of my time telling people to be their authentic selves in business, so this shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone.  However, the rallying cry of This Is Me, probably sums it up best.

Creating a professional image is one thing, but clients and customers want to see more than that, your values, your principles and everything in between.  Vulnerabilities are what makes us human, and people buy from people, so don’t be afraid to be open and honest and let your personality shine through.

The Greatest Showman I am brave I am bruised Greatest Showman

Don’t try to be something you’re not

Barnum’s near ruin came because he tried to be something he wasn’t.  He was successful in his field, but he felt he needed more, that somehow, he wasn’t enough.

Turning your back on what made you successful in search of something bigger, something worthier, something better, doesn’t always work.

Be careful of trying too hard to attract an audience that doesn’t fit with your brand values, or brand personality, because you feel it will give you something you’re lacking.  If you feel you’re not good enough, new clients aren’t going to change that.

“Towers of gold are still too little
These hands could hold the world but it’ll
Never be enough” 

Other downsides include pesky opera singers trying to steal you away from your wife, so be careful of those.

Remember why you started

Opera singers aside, like the true Hero’s journey, Barnham finally remembers why he did what he did to begin with.  Making a better life for his family, giving his acts a place to belong, enjoying his work and their company.  Not only is this what made him happy, it’s what made him successful.  And if you can do both, then you’ve got it made.

The Greatest Showman Noblest Art is that of making someone happy

So, there you have it in a nutshell, everything you need to promote a successful business in one hour, forty minutes.

What movie do you think gives the best business advice?  Taxi Driver? The Shawshank Redemption? Let me know.

And if you can’t quite work out how to make your digital marketing Come Alive (can you see what I did there), then take a look at our Digital Strategy Sessions

We’re DOOMED, DOOMED I tell you … how to adapt to Facebook’s Announcement on business pages

Facebook announcement

Today Facebook’s announcement on business pages made headline news.  Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook was changing its newsfeed to make personal connections more prominent and reducing the amount of business posts shown.

Good!

Whilst there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth about this, Social Media Examiner’s, Michael Stelzner has gone full “Corporal Fraser” and claims we are all doomed and there is even talk of an apocalypse. However, plagues of frogs aside, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  Organic reach from Facebook pages has plummeted in recent years and for largely good reason.

I took a break from Facebook (well, mostly) over the Christmas period and when I returned I didn’t really feel like I’d missed much. There were too many dull posts, click bait articles and the odd amusing video about otters. In other news, I had a lovely chat with old friends about our mutual love of The Crown and I’m slightly mesmerised by those ads for the face mask that peels off blackheads.  That is what Facebook is for.

Facebook is not the Yellow Pages, and its first and foremost role has always been to allow people to connect with each other.  Whether families living far away, or old school friends, Facebook was supposed to be a place for people to share their experiences, opinions and the odd bit of banter – not to buy a pizza.

I sense this has less to do with Zuckerberg wanting to make the world a friendlier place and much more to do with Facebook’s survival. The explosion in uninspiring, promotional content on Facebook pages has resulted in a decline in user experience and seen many people switch to other channels. The controversy over political bias and misleading click bait news stories is probably another good reason to put a dampener on things for a while.

However, the fact remains that you have put time and resources into building your Facebook page and there’s no need to just up saddle up your horse and leave.

Here are a few things you are going to need to adapt.

  1. Be Engaging

According to Facebook’s Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri:

“Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.”

So, the three things you must remember about the Facebook News Feed

  • They clearly want you to use Facebook Live more
  • Create events that people can talk about
  • Talk about issues and stories that inspire conversation
  1. Search is still a priority.

I have several clients which, for a variety of sensitive reasons, are not the kinds of pages that people will like or engage with.  However, we still consider a Facebook presence important.  People regularly use Facebook to search for companies and look at their pages directly (not in the newsfeed).  When they get there, they need to see content that reflects your company values, personality and services – you just don’t need to post 3 times a day.

  1. Nail down which platform is right for you and what you are trying to achieve.

Consider whether you truly belong there and what you are trying to achieve.  I’ll be perfectly honest, if you want to talk about your business to another professional, LinkedIn is the place to be.  My last blog explained why I think it’s the one to watch this year

It essentially works just like Facebook but is ‘shop talk’ only.  If you are a B2B business, it’s really where you should be at.  Likewise, you might want to invest more time in Twitter or Instagram, reducing your Facebook presence accordingly.

  1. Be the talk of the town ….

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. Oscar Wilde

Facebook have announced that they are putting higher priority on people talking to people.  Encourage people to talk about your business.  If you have premises, put signs up asking people to check in on Facebook.  Prompt people to leave Facebook reviews and testimonials, or think up creative ways to make people want to tag your page in their own personal posts.  Rather than running the tired ‘like and share’ competitions (because Facebook is penalising those posts even more), ask people to generate their own content and tag you in it.

  1. Groups

More than just selling old fridges, Facebook groups are a good way to engage with your community.  They are chattier than a Facebook page and the emphasis is on conversation rather than announcements. Members can receive notifications of new posts and invite others to join.  Traditionally only personal profiles were able to interact in groups but now a Business Page can administer its own, meaning you can keep your personal profile to yourself. Consider setting one up for your VIP clients, or dedicated fans. A word of caution though, don’t just let it become another way for people to advertise themselves without saying much else and be selective about what you put.  If you want to join the Armadillo Social Club, click here to request an invite.

  1. Put your money where your mouth is.

I’ve been saying this for some time, but the only way you are truly going to get your content seen on Facebook is by paying for it. I wrote this blog over 2 years ago and it is even more true today.  There’s no other publisher, whether newspaper, magazine, TV or radio, that lets you promote your business for free so why should Facebook be any different?  The power of Facebook advertising to accurately pinpoint your preferred customers is impressive and a tool you should be making the most of.  What other advertising channel lets you select the gender, age, web browsing habits and personal interest of your clients?

In short, Facebook Pages are not dead, they’re not even stunned.  However, you might have to up your game a little.

If you are determined to make these changes work for you, book yourself onto one of my workshops over the coming weeks.  You can spend half a day constructing your Digital Marketing Strategy, or master the finer points of Facebook Advertising or LinkedIn.

Or give me a call on 07801 816793 to talk through how these changes could affect you.