Should you try Vero?

Should you try VeroAnother day, another social media platform has come into our lives (and, potentially, stolen a teeny bit more of our time). What was your first thought? ‘Not again’ or ‘Ohhh… sounds interesting!’. If you’re the latter, you will have probably decided to sign up, but if you’re sure, I hope to answer the question – should you try Vero?

Why is Vero different?

I’m not going to lie and say I’m an expert on Vero. I signed up a few days ago and have done a fair amount of reading and video watching since then. So I’m going to tell you how I see it.

The main idea behind Vero seems to be to promote real, genuine and true content… and the main part of this being that the content isn’t filtered or impacted by an algorithm. The algorithm of any social media platform is what ‘decides’ what content you as the user will see, based on various factors. The algorithm restricting reach on posts has been the source of a lot of people’s annoyance… and I can completely see why. You pour your heart and soul into a post, or spend hours on the perfect pic… and then next to no one sees it. And it’s gutting. And the algorithm gets the blame. And it is to blame… but it doesn’t have an easy job. Generally, the aim of an algorithm is to rank posts in order of importance or relevance rather than time, to allow you to see the most relevant and engaging content. It doesn’t always work like that, granted, but that’s the idea. Of course, it’s not quite that simple. It’s not just relevance that influences the algorithm and what you can see… but I digress.

One of the key things that makes Vero different is that there is no algorithm reordering your posts. And the business model means that there are no ads either. Two things that users of social media have become increasingly frustrated by on other platforms.

How does Vero make its money?

Subscriptions. That’s how Vero plans to make its money. As of yet, I can’t find how much the subscription will be and I can’t see it online. The first one million sign ups will not have to pay for their subscription, for life, according to Vero’s Manifesto.

First impressions of Vero?

At time of writing, I haven’t been on the platform a lot… and that’s mainly because the server keeps timing out. At the moment, it is a bit glitchy in my experience BUT let’s not forget its age. We’re used to Facebook and Instagram and Twitter – platforms that have been around for a long time are now fully fledged adults in this social media life. Vero has recently got a lot of attention on social media and online, and based on the Twitter feed, this sudden influx has caused them some issues. It’s good they have been open and communicative about the issues and it does look like (again, according to Twitter!) that these are being resolved. There will be teething problems, there always are, with any new thing.

I also have found it a bit overwhelming. I think that while we like to moan about the algorithm, it has actually removed a LOT from our feeds. When you look at Vero, you’re greeted by everything that has been posted from people you follow or have connected with. And that can be a lot… even in the early stages. I think it’ll make me very careful about who I follow as I just won’t be able to process everyone’s posts. And that will mean that the things that are the most relevant to me will get lost. And then I start thinking that the various algorithms have, perhaps, done me a favour? Maybe?

What about the founders?

I have to address this issue. I’ve read about one of the founders and the issues that he has had with another business (and I appreciate that ‘issues’ doesn’t do the problems justice in many ways!). This doesn’t make me 100% comfortable BUT I am also aware that stories can be spun. I’m not saying the information isn’t accurate, but what I am saying is that I personally haven’t done enough research to discount a platform that some seriously big influencers are supporting. I also think that the press can twist things to suit. And that these stories have only started to surface since Vero became popular. I’m reserving judgement. And I haven’t dug deep into the other social media platforms, their founders and all previous businesses/current business dealings either. That’s not belittling the issue and I wouldn’t want you to think that at all. It’s just my honest view on it. As I read more and learn more, I might decide that everything reported seems to be accurate and it’s not something I want to support… I’m not pig headed enough to never change my mind when evidence supports that change.

Should you try Vero?

Should you try Vero? It’s completely up to you. And if you want to, do your own research, read all the Ts and Cs and then decide. I have – here’s why. We all know that early adopters to any platform have the greatest chance of success on it, so that’s that box ticked. The idea is interesting too.

Now, you might be thinking ‘but what if it doesn’t last or changes?’… and my answer would be ‘and?’. See, for the first million sign ups, it’s free, so you haven’t lost any money. You will lose some time if it doesn’t work out, but I see it as research and learning… and really the amount of time involved to learn about this new platform is minimal… and can be controlled by YOU. If you want to get on it and spend five mins messing around, good for you. You don’t have to commit to the next three weeks solidly. The choice is yours – as it is with all social media. And if you hate it for whatever reason, you can delete your account.

And if it does become the next big thing, then you’ll be an early adopter and that’s a great position to be in.

What do other people think about Vero?

A lot of people seem very excited about it on other social media platforms, but I first heard about it through Sara Tasker of Me and Orla fame. Sara is an Instagram legend and produces a superb podcast called Hashtag Authentic that I would recommend anyone in a creative industry listens to. I asked Sara what she thought about it and why she got involved. She said: “I like the premise of algorithm free – I genuinely miss that on all my social media. Plus it’s the first platform in ages that enough people have adopted to make it worth being on!”

And if that’s not enough of a nudge to give it a spin, I’m not sure what is. I’m just keeping everything crossed that it starts working a little more reliably for me…

How to use Instagram Stories (and stop them taking over your life)

How to use Instagram Stories (and stop them taking over your life)Instagram Stories – another ‘thing’ you have to do? Well, if you want to fully embrace the functionality of Instagram, then yes. You kind of do. You might feel that your social media commitment is already bursting at the seams and you can not take on ANYTHING else. And I hear you and I understand. But in this blog, I’m going to share a few ways to help you with how to use Instagram Stories without them taking over your life. Well, more than social media does already!

Now, before, I venture down this path, just one point to note. If you do not want to Instagram Stories at this moment – don’t. I encourage clients to have a go and to try it because I know how well it can work. But if your plate is overflowing at this second, it’ll wait. I wouldn’t wait too long, but if you feel like it’s another job to do and you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t stress.

But if you do want to know how to use Instagram Stories, I have some ideas below that are really easy to implement. Especially if you don’t want it to completely take over your life…

How to use Instagram Stories

  1. Document. I’m sure this is a Gary Vee-ism… document, don’t create. I use Instagram Stories to share what I’m up to. Unlike a ‘proper’ video, I don’t get the tripod set up, storyboard, etc etc… I just press go and crack on.
  2. Mix your media. You might not fancy video today – that’s fine, take a pic. Don’t have a pic? Mess around with Boomerang or Rewind or Stop Motion. There’s lots of functionality built into Instagram Stories… and with GIFs recently introduced and lots of other things, it’s set to get better.
  3. Volume. You don’t HAVE to add to your Story every hour. Or even every day. Personally, I try and have something on Stories all the time, because I’m a bit of a geek like that and I’ve been seeing Stories get more and more visible on the app.
  4. Use your Camera Roll. You don’t have to include pics you’ve just taken… you can use older pics or even screenshots from your website! If you have an amazing special offer on an item, you can screenshot it, do a bit of editing inside the app and get it out there.
  5. Special events. If you’re attending an event, or exhibiting at a show, Stories is a great way to share lots of exclusive content about what you’re up to. I think you should use your feed for your best work, but you can add fun content on Stories that might not fit the aesthetic of your feed, but is bang on for your brand.
  6. Personality. Video content, candid snaps… even a bit of crazy dancing if it suits, is a great way to show the personality of the people behind the brand, which then helps to give the brand those personality attributes too.
  7. Behind the scenes. If you’re setting up for a show or an event, if you’re a photographer doing a shoot, if you’re opening a special delivery or parcel… why not share what’s going on behind the scenes of your business? It allows people to connect to you and your business on a deeper level… and people really do buy from people.
  8. Stay on brand, but don’t take yourself too seriously. It takes a lot time to build a brand, so make sure your content feeds into this… but don’t overthink. A nice contradiction… but let me explain. You might be a fun, young brand who likes to enjoy some bubbles and country shows. You can capture that fun on Instagram Stories – brilliant. However, fun and being drunk and ill, and feeling rough as hell the next day is not on brand. So I wouldn’t advise that… do you see what I mean?

Enjoy it. The best way to use Instagram Stories and to see what works for your audience is by just having a go. If you record a video clip or take a pic and you hate it, don’t publish it, just delete it… no one will know and you can just go again. Instagram Stories is a great tool, and finding out how to use Instagram Stories for your business could be a really big deal for you too.

If you’d like to see how I use Instagram Stories (and maybe even follow me on Instagram!), my Instagram handle is @rheafreemanpr. I’d love to see you there.

A few minutes with… Charlie Trietline – Huufe

Huufe Mobile App- Ride ScreenshotThe ‘few minutes with…’ feature was created to help people find out more about the brands I meet in my travels… and today’s is no exception. Perhaps the main difference from this and my usual ones is that this Huufe isn’t a product or ‘service’, it’s a whole new community! I’ll hand over to Charlie Trietline from Huufe to tell you all about this exciting development in the equestrian world.

Who are you?

Charlie Trietline

What’s your business called?

Huufe

When did it start?

January 2017

If you could sum your business up in one sentence, what would it be?

The online community (Web and Mobile App) for the equestrian world – capturing and sharing your rides, pictures, videos & stories

Tell us a bit more about your business – what makes you different and what was the idea behind it?

Huufe Through the EarsKnowing how passionate the horsey community was, I was amazed that there was no way of capturing rides and sharing them like runners and cyclists do. We wanted to create the first dedicated online community for equestrians, so we started asking riders what they wanted in an app – lots it seemed! Then we started building exactly that.

Your favourite product?

The smartphone – they are so unbelievably powerful.

Who designed your logo? 

We ‘crowd sourced’ our logo design. The winner was a wonderful chap called Omar Crespo from Puerto Rico. I would thoroughly recommend crowd sourcing.

Which product launched the business?

The Huufe app will launch with key functionality and then grow according to community demand. In addition to ride tracking, initial features include: stable management, activity analysis, free classifieds, riding groups and accident detection / notification.

One thing we might not know about you

Before I (briefly) rode as an amateur jockey my father sent me off to Ted Edgar to sharpen my jumping up a bit. I was only 16 or 17 and remember being terrified. The horses he made me ride were unbelievable, in the end all I had to do was sit and look good!

Favourite podcast?

I have tried to get into listening to podcasts, yet to get into them properly!

Best business book

Felix Dennis (Dennis Publishing) used to live next door to us in Warwickshire. He wrote several books on how to be successful in business. I served in the Household Cavalry and Felix, very generously, helped fund several expeditions and charitable events I organised. His life was an inspirational rag to riches story- colourful, varied and successful- he trod his own path. So more a person than a book.

Best advice you’ve ever been given 

To thrive, every working relationship must work well for both parties

Favourite quote

I am not one for memorising inspirational quotes. But, thinking about what is important in my life, it’s to cut my own path and be the very best I can be and so if there is a quote that best epitomises this then it is by Oscar Wilde- ‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.’

Brands you love (can be equestrian or non-equestrian)

I like technology and I spent nearly 10 years working for HP, so I suppose it’s the brand I know best. The garage used as its first office in 1939 is considered the birthplace of Silicon Valley. It’s a great company with great values. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard’s offices remain as they were, a picture of the Queen hangs very prominently on the wall.

Who do you admire? 

There are lots of people I admire from different parts of my life- the Army, Business and of course in the Equestrian world. From the Equestrian world it has to be Richard Pitman, incredible jockey, racing commentator and a really nice guy. In 2012 he donated a kidney to a stranger.

Quick fire questions…..

Dogs or cats?

Dogs

Blogs or vlogs?

Vlog

Favourite blog/vlog?

Much to my wife’s horror I have started to get into road cycling. There is a vlog that I watch every now and then called the Cycling Maven. He is an Australian cyclist with lots of advice etc delivered very cheerfully.

Tea of coffee?

Tea

Sweet or savoury?

Savoury

Where can we find you online? 

Facebook:            https://www.facebook.com/huufeapp/

Twitter:                 https://twitter.com/huufeapp

Instagram:           https://www.instagram.com/huufeapp/

Youtube:               https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjq9N831s2XIn1gzPwxpzUQ

Website:               https://www.huufe.com

 

Ego vs. engagement on social media | Rhea Freeman

ego vs. engagement on social mediaEngagement on social media is a funny thing… and one that our ego can fight against. On Instagram, so many of us get pangs of delight when we see the likes flood in when we post. And a like or even love on Facebook is magic, isn’t? Now, I’m not denying that all the above are nice, but engagement actually matters more. Our ego might not agree, but it’s wrong on this one.

Ego vs. engagement on social media

Egos tend to like numbers. More followers, more likes, more loves, etc. Now, I’m not going to say that this is wrong as such, but it has to work hand in hand with engagement to be useful.

On Instagram, for example, you can follow a load of people, especially those using certain hashtags, and you’ll get a load of followers in return. Great, hey? Or is it. Because these kind of followers aren’t actually that ‘useful’. And I mean ‘useful’ in the best possible way. I mean ‘useful’ in terms of forming any kind of connection with you or your business or having any interest at all in your business and you. When I follow an account, I do it because I have an interest in the person and the content they are creating. To me, that makes me a useful follower. I’m likely to like the odd post… I might even be compelled to leave a comment or two on posts. To me, that cements my usefulness. That didn’t come from merely following the page though. It came from caring about the content and engaging with the content.

See, ego wants the followers. Left to its own devices it would seek out the #followforfollow hashtag and follow these accounts like crazy. Ego would have us put out our best content with this hashtag too, to attract likes… but largely from people who don’t really care. Not their fault. They’re just not ‘our people’. And that’s where ego is wrong. Ego might also want to buy followers to achieve its objective… but we know buying followers is a bad idea.

It’s all about engagement

I’m not going to lie to you and say that I don’t watch the number of likes a post gets and it doesn’t concern me. It does. But there’s a lot more to it. See, some of the best posts I’ve had for my business, for DMs, for people actually reaching out and connecting to me, haven’t necessarily had the most likes. Pretty pictures and quotes tend to do well on Instagram, and I love both of these a lot, but when I share something relatable, the engagement goes up. This isn’t me being calculated, it’s just fact.

Earlier this week, I shared a selfie. I don’t hide the fact that I hate selfies… I’m always squinting/looking the wrong way/looking tired/crazy hair/sheep wrinkle… so much I don’t like. I have no real issues with video, but a still image doesn’t sit well with me. But this year, I’ve decided to blummin well get over myself… because it’s important to me to practise what I preach. I encourage my clients to get out there and own their brand all the time, yet I hide away from things that make me feel uncomfortable and stop me really owing my brand? Nope – I can’t do that. So I’m challenging myself to put my imperfect face out there more. And I have to say that the reaction has been so lovely that I’m feeling a bit stupid for building it up in my head… but that’s another story. Now, what’s interesting about the selfie sharing is that I am far from alone in this. So many people have commented on the selfie post saying that they feel the same. Getting that engagement was important to me. It made me feel a whole lot better on one level, but you know what else? I had a DM from someone who had been worried about using Instagram Stories and showing her face. My post gave her a nudge and made her realise she wasn’t alone. And she posted an Insta Story… and it was flipping brilliant! THAT’S what matters.

Engagement on social media

So many people have moments when they forget the social element of social media. Yes, we want our content to be liked, maybe even loved, but the whole point of these incredible platforms is ENGAGEMENT. It’s making those real connections with people. It’s sharing a joke, giving someone confidence, getting a little support, sharing a win or a crushing blow. And having someone who cares, because they know you through you content, connect. The same applies to business. Engage with your customers and prospective customers. People buy from people. Show them you care, help them with their issues, respond to their comments and engage with them. Engagement on social media is king. The rest is ego. And while we can all give our ego a little free rein from time to time, we shouldn’t do so at the expense of engagement… it negates the whole point of the platforms we spend so long cultivating. Don’t you think?

Five ways to use social media to grow your equestrian business

5 ways to use social media to grow your equestrian businessDo you want to grow your equestrian business? Do you have a limited budget? Fear not, there’s never been a better time to market your business to your target customer with a limited budget. There are LOTS of ways to promote your equestrian business to your target customers, and you’ll find lots of hints and tips in this blog. I have dealt with (and spent) really sizeable sums of money on behalf of clients, and although I am not against advertising (this should be followed by a star and list of exceptions!), I also appreciate the value of money. If you’re spending any money on advertising in the conventional sense, you need to make sure you are getting maximum bang for your buck… but that’s a whole different blog. This time, we are looking at how to use social media to grow your equestrian business. Actually, we’re looking at five ways to use social media to grow your equestrian business. Are you ready? Then let’s get going…

Five ways to use social media to grow your equestrian business

  1. Use it. Obvious? Of course it is, but I mean really use it. If you want to use social media to grow your equestrian business you need to really grasp this point. Go beyond just getting accounts on all the platforms you can and actually learn how to use them, one at a time if need be. Find the sweet spot in terms of how often you need to post, what kind of content engages your audience more than any other, and get to know them. Getting to know your audience on social media is something that is massively underestimated. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how can you create content that they’re going to like? Consistency also falls into this bracket too. Although getting to know your audience is key, acting on this information is essential. Posting regularly (and I mean at least once a day kind of regularly, not once a month regularly!) can really change the game.
  2. Strong images. With social media being so visual nowadays, using strong images is a must. If you’re looking to use social media to grow your equestrian business, you need to invest in strong pics. Even if you’re not a photographer. Although when we think of photograph led social media platforms, we might thing of Instagram, posts with good images do better everywhere. It’s just a fact. You don’t have to invest in getting images done by a profession if you don’t want to, but I would urge you to put some time and energy into learning how to take better pics yourself.
  3. It’s not all about you. A key way to use social media to grow your equestrian business? Remember who it’s all about. Your customer. Yes, the content you’re creating will be to promote some element of what you do, but that’s not where it ends. If you’re a photographer, you will be looking to show your photography expertise alongside your images and what you can do for people. This combination of content will help to inform, educate and inspire… and isn’t that what all of us want to do for all our customers?
  4. Create value. Yes. Give your clients and potential clients stuff for free that they can actually use. So, for me, although I coach people on social media and how to leverage it, I put a LOT of energy into creating content. Why? Doesn’t it hurt my business? Nope. First of all, it helps people to see that I really do know my stuff. Secondly, it actually give potential clients something to try and test that will help their businesses. Thirdly, not everyone is my client, by which I mean you might be at the start of your journey with next to no budget. Does this mean that I shouldn’t help you? No. You might not be able to afford a one to one coaching session, but you might learn something from the content I put out. You might tell a friend. You might join my Small & Supercharged Facebook group (it’s free). Your business might grow/we might work together… or you might just read this and carry on with your life. That’s fine too. Content can work in weird ways, and the more I create and learn, the more surprising it is. Never underestimate the value of creating value on social media.
  5. Use video. Yep – we all knew that video would have to be one of my five points. Video is huge on social media and is set to continue to grow. It allows people to connect with you as a person. It allows your personality to shine. It allows your knowledge to come out too. And it’s SO easy to do now. If you have smart phone, you can Live Stream straight onto your preferred social media platform, just like that. If you want to create a video for Youtube, let’s say, you can record, edit and upload from your trusty smart phone too. You have everything you need in the palm of your hand. Honest. Give it a go. If you want to use social media to grow your equestrian business and you’re not using video, you’re doing yourself and your brand a disservice.

Of course, there are more than five ways to use social media to grow your equestrian business, but here are five ways that you can implement today, without spending a penny. And they’ll work. I have used these methods time and again with clients and I promise you that if you are consistent with all of the above, you’ll reap rewards.

A few minutes with… Ruth Box – Trackener Ltd | Rhea Freeman

Ruth Box - Trackener - Team at OlympiaHave you heard of Trackener Ltd? A new company on the equestrian tech scene? In this ‘a few minutes with…’ I catch up wth Ruth Box from Trackener, and she tells us all about the new device and app…

A few minutes with… Ruth Box – Trackener Ltd…

Who are you?

My name is Ruth Box and I am the Sales and Marketing Manager at Trackener Ltd.

What’s your business called?

Trackener

When did it start?

In September 2015

If you could sum your business up in one sentence, what would it be?

A revolutionary horse wearable device and app that is helping horse owners and carers optimise their horse’s health and wellbeing thanks to unprecedented insights.

Tell us a bit more about your business – what makes you different and what was the idea behind it?

The idea for the product came from Pauline Issard, one of Trackener’s co-founders during her Masters degree in Engineering. As a keen rider, she found she was always facing health problems with her horses including the loss of a loan horse to colic one night. Frustrated, she was determined to find a way to detect problems early on in order to prevent these scenarios.

TrackenerIn terms of horse wearables, Trackener is unique as it can be worn 24/7 with or without a rug and during exercise. Furthermore, data on the app can be accessed anywhere in the world, the user does not need to be with their horse to monitor their activity. The idea is that no matter how well we know our horses, we cannot be with them around the clock to take care of them and therefore Trackener helps us do this.

Your favourite product?

For everyday use, I am a big fan of Cowboy Magic Nothing gets the coat gleaming and smelling fresh like Cowboy Magic. I always get comments after I’ve used it.

Who designed your logo?

Pauline one of our co-founders designed the first logo, which was then improved thanks to the help of a graphic designer and Jeremie (the other co-founder) with lots of testing and feedback!

Which product launched the business?

Trackener Life, the all-round health care equine monitoring device and app that helps you keep an eye on your horse wherever you are. There has been another app Trackener Ride that was developed for Brooke’s ‘My Hackathon’ but we are now focused on our main product.

One thing we might not know about you?

Between the whole team, not one of us owns our own horse! We nearly all ride regularly and have owned in the past but at the moment we only share horses.

Favourite podcast?

Gastric Ulcers with Richard Hepburn featured on Horse Hour.

Best advice you’ve ever been given

You can only fail if you don’t try! The start up life is all about trial and error. Mistakes are a great learning curve and you won’t learn if you don’t try and test things out.

Favourite quote

An expert at anything was once a beginner

Brands you love

Google, we use Google for everything! and Lauria Garelli. Pauline and I both bought a lovely brown Lauria Garelli coat at Your Horse live last year without knowing the other had!

Who do you admire?

I am really captivated at the moment by Olivia Towers. I am always watching her latest vlogs with the intention of a quick glance and then end up watching the whole thing. She is very confident in what she does and makes vlogging look effortless!

Quick fire questions…..

Dogs or cats? Both!

Blogs or vlogs? Vlogs

Favourite blog/vlog? Olivia Towers Dressage

Tea of coffee? Tea

Sweet or savoury? Oh sweet – definitely!

 

Where can we find you online?

Facebook – @Trackener

Twitter – @Trackener or @ruth_box6910

Instagram – @Trackenerhorses

Website – www.trackener.com

What do you love about your job? | Rhea Freeman

What do you love about your job?What do you love about your job? Is it a question you’ve been asked before? Maybe you’ve asked others what they love about what they do and found their responses really interesting? I had a ponder on this subject and asked a few friends and clients what they loved about their job. For me, there are quite a few things. I love seeing clients and friends succeed, and being able to help them achieve their goals gives me the biggest buzz. I love planning campaigns and seeing them fly. I love learning new things and testing them out. I love sharing my knowledge with people and helping them to grow and develop. I like being a teeny part of someone’s success story.

I asked a few clients, friends and members of my Small & Supercharged Facebook group what they loved about their jobs. Here’s what they had to say…

So, what do you love about your job?

Rachel Bragg is the incredibly talented photographer behind Sweet Images Photography. She said: “I love the flexibility of working for myself and the diversity of my days…”

Emma Warren is the MD of Hiho Silver and the lady behind Doris & Co, Dimpsey and Dimmet… and does a lot more too. I’ve had the privilege to work with Emma for a number of years now… hence the reference. “I love…learning from the great people and brands we get to hang out. I love that we can have ideas and try them out. I love working with you, Mrs F, and pursuing our hare-brained schemes. I love delighting our customers and knowing that someone is excited about receiving a present or treat that we’ve designed. I love that I get to live and work in the country and I can organise my day around my family. Oh and I love that I get to wear jewellery, hats, belts and lovely things in the name of work and research!” 

Sam Hobden is founder of Haynet, #horsebloggers and my partner in crime on the Haynet podcast (if you haven’t listened, go now if not sooner!), she said: “Lucky to love most aspects of my work in the equestrian blogging industry. I have met bloggers from all over the world, learning along the way from their super content to then helping others with their blogging questions too. With it all themed around horses and life in the countryside, what is there not to love!”

Sarah Johnstone is the brains behind equestrian apparel brand Apt Cavalier (I’m basically surgically attached to the Apt Cavalier Bobble Hat!). She said: “I love my job because the subject matter is something I get truly excited about: it combines my degree and my ultimate passion (Eventing) and I feel really lucky to be doing it!”

Ruth Chappell is part of the team behind online dressage competition platform Dressage Anywhere, a service that allows you to compete (and be judged by BD and FEI judges) from anywhere in the world. It’s amazing. Anyway, she said: “After spending nearly 15 years commuting a long distance, I now love the commute down the stairs to my home office. I love watching my customers develop and progress in their dressage journeys and I love the flexibility of being able to walk my own dog and ride my own horse in daylight hours – I used to have a dog walker and ride my horse between 7 and 8pm!

Melanie Clarihew is the co-founder of luxury British leather belts and accessories company Mackenzie and George, Actually, that doesn’t even start to do the company justice – go and have a look at the M&G website if you don’t know about them yet. Melanie said: “I love… having a role that exercises all of my grey matter; one day I could be doing accounts and analysing reports, the next day researching and developing, sketching designs and creating prototypes, then I could be plotting and designing marketing materials. I love seeing and reading our customers’ reactions to the products, or when we’re able to exceed expectations and make someone’s day. Of course, I’m in a fortunate position to be able to work with my husband every day too, so we are in the unique position of being able to share the highs and lows, and support each other in every aspect of our lives, and it’s been one of my greatest achievements to grow this business from scratch and see it go from strength to strength together.”

Chantal Wellavize runs Equichoice Ltd, and online equestrian store that selects products ‘your horse would choose’. She said: “I love the fact that I get to decide what I do, how I do it, when I do it. No politics, no inequality, no boss. I get rewarded for what I get done and if I don’t enjoy it, well I don’t have anyone else to blame but myself with that level of control over what my job looks like

Laura White is a freelance Instructor and rider and runs White Horse Support, she said: “I love the fact that I get to travel around to all sorts of different yards and help people enjoy their hobby even more. No two days are ever the same!”

Danielle Crawford is one half of Black Nova Designs, an IT Solutions Business that has worked with many equestrian (and non-equestrian!) businesses. “I love what I do. It fits around my family – I get to see my little girl in school plays, parents visit mornings and be around what I love most each day. My job helps people with website and internet issues that most people are usually not interested in or do not understand – we help people understand the importance of a good website, hosting and internet in hopefully a fun and family orientated way. Computers and the internet are fairly ‘boring’ subjects but we try and help others understand the basics to help their home and working lives. Never thought I’d be lucky enough to have a job that works around my lifestyle and not the other way around.”

Sarah Skillin is the lady behind online magazine The Bit UK and also runs Equiconsulting, a company specialising in business improvement services for the equestrian world. She said: “Because it means I get to completely immerse myself in the world I love, whilst doing something I really enjoy and with people I actually like!”

Jen Atkinson is the lady behind Bling In The Show Ring, a business that specialises in bespoke designs using Swarovski crystals. She said: “Proud of doing what I thought I could never have done as I didn’t have any belief in myself. I also work full time hours from home in customer services so it’s a struggle but so worth it to get the feedback I have.”

Janey Lazenby is an equine photographer with ‘a modern artistic twist’ – see her images at EJ Lazenby Photography. She said: “My job completes me – I would have it as a bucket list thing, but it’s actually reality- using my imagination and creativity to celebrate the horse in art and all of its variations”

What do love about your job? Please comment below if you’d like to share.

When to pay to boost your Facebook post

When to pay to boost your Facebook postDo you see posts with the word ‘sponsored’ on popping up in your News Feed more and more? I do. I’m going to state the obvious here (I know, and I apologise), but this means that the creator of that content has paid to show that post to you. Maybe I’ve been noticing it more lately, but I’m beginning to wonder if Facebook’s new News Feed changes have caused this surge? Now, I’m in no way against giving a post a boost or placing an ad with Facebook. Quite the opposite. But what I will say is that although you can throw a LOT of money at Facebook, it will only generate the right impact when you’ve spent it on the right content. To help with this, here are my tips to help you decided when to pay to boost your Facebook post.

When to pay to boost your Facebook post

Some people say that you should never boost a Facebook post. There’s some good logic behind their reasons and if you don’t want to, don’t. I, however, do boost the odd post. I haven’t actually boosted any posts for a few months now on my own page. This is not because I have some objection, far from it, I just like to use my money wisely (even if it is £2!), and I haven’t felt the need to pay to boost a post for a bit. However, I want to share with you the thought process I apply when I boost a post. You don’t have to agree, you might have another method, but this is what I do. I would love to know how you decide when to pay to boost your Facebook post.

  1. I boost posts that do well organically. Generally I only boost posts that have started to gather momentum on their own. I use this as a test. Again, I use the word generally when I say that if a post does well organically, it’ll do well when boosted.
  2. I boost posts that have a point. I wouldn’t boost a post that didn’t have a point. But then I don’t tend to post that much that doesn’t have a point. I like each post to have some value in some way, as I for one am tired of self indulgent posts cluttering up my News Feed.
  3. I boost posts I want my followers to see. I boost a post if I want my followers to see it too. I would run an ad if I was looking to target new people and if the content was more of an advert nature.
  4. I boost posts that are informative (well, that’s the aim!). If I was creating something more like a straight advert, I wouldn’t post it on my feed, so I wouldn’t boost it, I would do an advert.
  5. I boost posts that are time sensitive. Not all the time, but something that is time sensitive is more likely to get a boost because I want people to see it quickly and don’t have time to recycle.
  6. I boost posts that I think people will engage with. Point 1 should have proved this, but if people start engaging the organic reach will increase too, making my boost do more.
  7. I boost posts when I just want a lift in a post’s reach. Facebook Ads have a lot more options and functionality so if I have more of a campaign in mind, I would invest the extra time in placing an ad as I would be able to make my ad style content work harder by utilising different styles of ad, objectives, etc. etc.
  8. I boost posts that meet the ad guidelines. Too much text, for example, might work in a normal post, but if I boost a post with too much text on the image (according to Facebook), my money isn’t working as hard as it could be.

…and I tend to boost posts for short periods of time… and for not much money. The kind of content I boost is usually blog content or day of the week style content.

When do you pay to post a Facebook post? Have I missed any criteria from the list above? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

 

 

Why buying followers is a bad idea

why buying followers is a bad ideaA few weeks ago, a lady called me to ask for help with her social media. She was finding it hard to grow a following and wanted advice. We chatted and then the dreaded question came. You know the one, don’t you? ‘What about buying followers, is that a good idea?’. I get asked this a lot and my answer is always the same. Always. And here I’ll explain why buying followers is a bad idea.

Why buying followers is a bad idea

Having lots of followers on any platform is nice. It’s nice for our egos, let’s be honest. We don’t know each and every person that follows us (I mean, you might do, but I don’t), but the numbers keep increasing and that makes us happy. So could we shortcut this process by throwing a bit of money at the issue and buying a load of followers? Well yes, in theory we could, but it would completely defeat the whole object of growing a following for me. And if you’re using social media properly, it would kill it for you too…

But buying followers gets more followers… isn’t that what it’s all about?

Nope. Getting more ENGAGED followers is very much what it’s all about. Getting more followers who don’t care about you, your product, your service, your industry and will never ever be a customer or interested in your content? Nope. That’s just feeding your ego. And I don’t mean to be boring here, but I don’t have a huge amount of time for that.

See, I do work hard on my following on all platforms. Could I grow my following more quickly? Absolutely. If that was the sole objective, my followings would be much higher because there are lots of ways to do this. But I don’t want to do this. I want to grow my following on all my platforms, but I want to grow them with genuine followers.

Why do genuine followers matter?

I put a LOT of time into creating content online for my social media platforms. One of the aims of my social media activity is to increase my visibility to people who are a) interested in me and my services or b) interested in my PR and coaching clients (because I share a lot of pics and content from them too) c) interesting or inspirational to me. If I want to achieve any of the objectives above, I need to make sure what I am putting out into the world appeals to these people and gets seen by them. One way to do this is through social media. And that’s why the genuine follower thing is key. As you probably know by now, I’m very into anything country and equestrian. So if I have thousands of followers who are into, I don’t know, baseball, we are probably going to have a disconnect. And although they’re following me, they’re never going to show a real interest in what I’m doing, be interested in me or my clients, will never read a blog or mine (I mean, why would they)… you see what I mean. So the numbers look good BUT the engagement rates would be horrible. And any conversion would be a flipping miracle.

If you buy followers, the chance of you getting followers who have any interest in your business at all is slim. Your ego will like it (well, depending on how your ego works, mine would also feel a bit embarrassed, but that’s just me!), but your following won’t do any more than that. Follow. Withoit any true connection.

Most of us use social media as a way to help promote our businesses. And if the following you have gathered, the audience you are promoting to, couldn’t care less, is there really any point in creating the content and putting in the effort?

When is it OK not to blog?

when is it OK not to blogWhen is it OK not to blog? The short answer is that consistency in everything you do in your business is really, really important. So, therefore, you’d think that the answer to this is that you should always blog. No matter what. But I think there’s an exception to the rule.

When is it OK not to blog?

I talk about consistency a LOT. I have consistently published three blogs a week on my website for a flipping long time. And I’m really proud of it. I love writing. I love sharing my knowledge. And it works as a great tool for my business too. Many people who speak to me about small business coaching or equestrian and country PR and marketing have seen my website first. Some have read a few blogs. Some have read them all (thanks if that’s you!). Blogging is a really important thing for my business, and it’s a really important ‘thing’ for yours too. It has put me on the map in a big way (in addition to the other things I do), and I love it. But sometimes, life gets in the way, and as any blogger will know, content doesn’t manifest out of thin air. Sadly. Although I could be onto a million dollar idea if I can make that happen…

So I should blog all the time, consistently?

Yes, yes you should. That’s the short answer. But you may have noticed that last Monday, I didn’t publish a blog. It bothered me (more than I can express) that I didn’t. But I had a word with myself and realised that sometimes it is OK not to blog. See, I have really rotten cold last weekend (well, from about Thursday) and I felt really rough. I am not a sickly person and I don’t handle illness well. I’m one of these ‘I’m too busy to be ill’ people. I know. It’s not a great quality. As the mother of twin toddlers, running my own business, two horses, a dog that is very high maintenance and being crazy busy (I mean, I know everyone is, just for the record), I can’t just stop. I have been going to bed early, eating paracetamol like Smarties and so on. But life doesn’t just stop. However, removing a bit of pressure can be really helpful.

When is it OK not to blog?

I could have prioritised last Monday’s blog above going to bed early and getting another hour’s quality sleep. Should I have? Well, I’m going to say no. Because although I love blogging and it’s important for my business, because I have been a bit sickly, I’d been slower at other things. I had more emails in my inbox that I would have liked, the house still needed cleaning/washing done and all those boring things. And my clients still needed my attention in coaching sessions. There’s little point in working your backside off to attract the right clients and then doing them a disservice because you’re using your energy badly. Do you know what I mean? So last Monday’s blog was a casualty of me feeling a bit ‘meh’ and needing to focus on the core. What I NEED to do for my business on a day to day level rather than want or need to do on a big picture level.

Life happens

See, life happens. I’m not playing up a cold as something dramatic. It isn’t. But it shows that something as minor as a cold can make you readjust. When bigger life things happen or you and your focus is NEEDED elsewhere, things do slip. And you can either beat yourself up for it or just accept it and aim to get back on track as soon as you can. The former won’t help. If you’re NEEDED elsewhere, you can’t change that. All you can change is how you feel about the choice that you’ve made.