Rural & Equestrian Social Media

I spend a HUGE amount of time in the world of rural and equestrian social media. Not only do I use social media to actively promote my own business, I also use social media to help promote my clients’ businesses to!

For some clients I manage their social media for them – literally scheduling the posts each day, creating the captions, researching the hashtags, etc. For others, I advise them on the kind of content that would work, in the coaching sessions. And other times I’m teaching equestrian and rural business owners about social media and how to use it. This might be in my Small & Supercharged Facebook group, in my Mastermind Membership group, on Facebook Lives, or even in blogs, right here.

Social media is a huge part of many an equestrian or rural business’s success. And when it costs you NOTHING, yes, zero, to get yourself set up and started, it seems silly not to get involved. Why deny yourself access to that many people who are your perfect customer?

If you have a country business, this blog is for you. It’s all about how to use social media to promote your country business. And it’s really, really important that you do. Even if your strongest ‘marketing’ is your customers and word of mouth, or even traditional forms of media like printed ads, I would urge you strongly to get on board with social media. It’s free to get started and allows you to reach people who will have never heard of you. More than this, it adds a new dimension to your PR and marketing as the world is your stage. Not just people in the local vicinity. Social media does level the playing field and also expands your audience to global. Even if you have a local business who serves the local community, you need to get on board. Yes, social media can have global reach, but you can also really focus in on your local area if that’s what you want to it. It also helps you to create a real brand. The kind that brings people in from afar. So let’s get cracking, shall we? Here are five ways to use social media to promote your country business.

Five ways to use social media to promote your country business

  1. Who are you? Use social media to introduce people to your team. Who do they speak to when they call you? Who packs orders? Who serves in the shop? Who churns the ice cream? Who started it all? Share the information. This can be done through images and text or, even better, video. This helps people get a real feel for your business and what makes it tick. It’s a really easy thing to do that can make a real difference.
  2. Where does the magic happen? If you’re a country business, why not show people where you’re based? You don’t have to give people your full address and postal code, but why not show a studio for a craft business? Your animals? The surrounding countryside. Help people buy into the lifestyle, the animal welfare, the feeling that your company wants to create in its customers.
  3. Share tips. If you sell produce, create some recipes- video them/write them up/take some nice images. If you create clothing – style tips. If you run a rural accountancy firm- how to keep track of your receipts. Tips help people and they also help you and your expert status. You can decide to display these tips in a blog, as graphics, as video… or, better still, all of the above.
  4. Document, don’t create. This advice is from Gary Vaynerchuk, and it’s so right. Your everyday life as a country business is filled with things that you might find mundane but, to someone who doesn’t know about what you do and how you work, it’s fascinating. If you run a farm shop, opening up in the morning, dealing with suppliers and restocking could create really great content. Maybe you’re talking about new season’s asparagus that only comes in for a limited time. Yes, it’s your day to day life, but why not share it with your customers? Get them excited about your new asparagus too!
  5. Get people involved. User generated content is a really big deal, and it is a great way to use social media to promote your country business too. Retweeting, sharing and reposting content from your customers can help them feel special and cared for, but it does huge things for your social media too. You could always introduce a competition to encourage this kind of engagement too.

So here are five ways to use social media to promote your country business. Of course, there are loads more, but it’s a good start!

If you’d like to find out more about one aspect of social media, Instagram Stories, download my free guide here by signing up to my newsletter list.

Instagram Stories

Karen McConnell Royal highland ShowI for one was completely blown away by Karen McConnell, aka Karen & Clan and KAEquestrian’s Royal Highland Show content… did you see it?

As an ambassador for Hiho Silver, and as a friend, I did know what was happening before it did. In a full disclosure kind of way. But an idea is just an idea, isn’t it? It’s the execution of these things that REALLY matters, and Karen completely surpassed my expectations (which were pretty high, let’s be honest!). More than this, I genuinely felt like I was at the Royal Highland (and I really wasn’t, I was in Worcestershire!), saw new products thanks to her Instagram Stories, and also have not got a serious liking for Holland Cooper… which was something I didn’t have before. I didn’t ever dislike the brand, far from it, I’ve always been very impressed by what Jade and the team have accomplished, think the showroom is to die for and more, but seeing the outfits styled in a way that I would wear. And seeing how they all endured all day wear. And hearing Karen rave about them too means that they’re now firmly on my list of stands to visit at the next event I go to.

But I digress.

The whole content plan leading up to and during the Royal Highland Show was geneuinely superb, so I asked Karen a few questions to get the inside info from the show. You ready?

Behind… Karen McConnell’s Royal Highland Show coverage

Why did you pick the four brands you did to work with?
I chose HiHo Silver, Mackenzie & George, Fairfax & Favor and Holland Cooper as the four brands to work with on this project as I absolutely love their products. They all stand for the height of style and quality and together, I think, they make up the perfect country outfit.

Did you learn anything new about the brands working so closely with them?
Absolutely, Obviously when you start asking about the different products and manufacturing processes, you develop a better understanding of the products themselves but the most interesting part for me is getting to know the personalities within the teams that ultimately make up the overall personality of the brand. As a consumer, when I find a brand whose personality I like and get on with, I’m completely sold and as a blogger it’s absolutely vital that our personalities gel in order to create content that complements the brands I’m working with. I feel after working on this project together, I know all the brands a little better, love them even more than I did before and hopefully they know me a bit better too.

Karen McConnell Royal Highland ShowWhat did you enjoy the most about the Royal Highland Show? How long have you been going?
I’ve been going to the Highland Show since I was a child and it’s always a great event with loads to see (and buy!). It really does pull the whole of Scotland’s rural community together (as well as lots of others from south of the border and further afield) and this year, wall to wall sunshine just made it even better. As always with these events, although I love the attractions and shopping, what I love most is bumping into friends, clients old and new, and meeting new people with similar interests.

How did you come up with the idea of working with a brand a day, and how did you find implementing that during the event?
I knew I wanted to do something different at this year’s Royal Highland Show (last year was all about the equestrian side of the event), and with country style and fashion becoming such a large part of the Karen & Clan blog, it made sense to me to feature all my favourite country fashion brands who were exhibiting at the show. A brand a day just made sense to me as that way I got to really dedicate my whole day to showcasing the brand to share with my social media audience. It also worked well when I did IG story takeovers for Hiho Silver and Mackenzie & George. Implementing the format was really easy, I always knew where my focus needed to be.

What were the favourite pieces you got to wear and use from each brand – just one from each (I know it’s hard!)
Oooh, this is such a tough question! If I had to pick only one item from each of the brands they would be…..
Hiho Silver – The Bumblebee Necklace – I only spotted this on the website the other week and instantly loved it. I’ve not taken it off since the show, so cute!
Mackenzie & George – The Windsor Maxi Clutch in Navy – I’d coveted that for a while and it’s even more beautiful in real life. I got it embossed with my initials too which makes it even more special.
Fairfax & Favor – The Heeled Amiras in Tan – I wore these three of the four days at the show and they’re super stylish and surprisingly comfortable. I’ve never owned a pair of over the knee boots before and I was nervous about whether I could pull them off (in my head they were only for tall people!) but I LOVE them.
Holland Cooper – Another really hard choice but I really loved the Cadogan Jacket in Stone Herringbone (link to Duke) I wore on the Sunday. Its military influence is super-cool but the gorgeous tweed makes it instantly classic in style. I loved teaming it up with the matching Carrie Cap too (I know that’s two products – sorry!)

You’ve done a huge amount of research into what to wear at country and equestrian shows for your Royal Highland feature. What would your top tip/s be when it comes to clothing for these kind of events?
I think dressing for a country show you need four key ingredients – a gorgeous tweed blazer or cape, a comfortable pair of boots (you’ll be walking all day), a great bag and fantastic accessories. If you have all of those things, all you need are your favourite pair of skinny jeans and a shirt and you’re good to go!

To find out more about Karen’s trip to the Royal Highland – here are some must see blogs and vlogs…

What I wore to the Royal Highland – Thursday

What I wore to the Royal Highland – Friday

What I wore to the Royal Highland – Saturday

What I wore to the Royal Highland – Sunday

What’s in my bag – Royal Highland vlog

What to wear at a country show – vlog

5 easy ways to Instagram StoriesHello there – today it’s all about Instagram Stories (I know, I know, I’m addicted), but not just this – I have a freebie for you! Yes, I have launched a downloadable PDF freebie that talks you through the different styles/types/modes of Instagram Story AND five easy ways to use Instagram Stories.

Why have I created a freebie about Instagram Stories?

Because I love them. No, it’s more than that. Instagram Stories can be HUGE for building businesses and brands and, now, they have the added bonus of allowing you to link to Instagram TV. Even if you have less than 10k followers, you can ‘taste’ the joys of swipe up!

Instagram Stories are very, very different to the highly curated content we seen in the main feed. Because of the options available and how the Story is only there for 24 hours (unless you add it to Highlights), you CAN be a bit more spontaneous, fun and natural. It’s a great place to test new ideas and see the response. It’s a fab place to ask your audience questions using the poll feature. It’s a great place to ask opinions using the slider feature. You can also use it to promote your feed posts too (you can share from your feed easily). It’s great. But I just don’t think it gets the credit it deserves. The potential is HUGE.

So what’s the freebie about?

I know that many people feel a little afraid of Instagram Stories. It’s not edited. It’s raw and real. What happens if you made a fool of yourself? OK. Let’s stop. You CAN edit clips if you want (you can record using the Camera and then edit before uploading), it can be raw and real- but you can also apply filters and edit. And what if you make a fool of yourself? Delete it, don’t post it… or rest safe in the knowledge that in 24 hours, it’ll be gone.

I created the ‘Five easy ways to use Instagram’ freebie to give people a little bit of a kick to explore and have a play with this fab free marketing tool. And I thought providing five ways that you could use Instagram Stories would be a good way to do this. But don’t feel that the freebie is trying to clip your wings – it is not. It’s a basic foundation for you to explore, play and create your own amazing Instagram Stories. These are just five easy ways to use Instagram Stories. There are soooo many more.

How to download the ‘Five easy ways to use Instagram Stories’ freebie

I’ve created this freebie for my email newsletter list subscribers, but I’ve also added a freebie page here that will allow you to download the ‘Five easy ways to use Instagram Stories’ freebie at any time you want to join my mailing list. My fabulous email subscribers receive these kind of guides and videos first, so if you want to improve your PR, marketing, social media and grow and develop your business, it’s a great list to be signed up to. If I do say so myself!

If you use any of the tips or ideas in the freebie, I would love it if you tagged me so I can see what you’re creating (I’m @rheafreemanpr on Instagram) – no obligation to do this, I’d just love to see.

So there you go – Five easy ways to use Instagram Stories – enjoy!

How to mute someone on InstagramIn May 2018, Instagram announced the introduction of the mute feature. In the last month, Instagram has announced some ginormous changes, granted, but this one, I think, is an important one. First, I’m going to tell you how to mute someone on Instagram, and then we’ll chat about why…

How to mute someone on Instagram

I believe there are two ways to do this: one from an image in your feed and one from their profile. Both seem to work in a similar way- tap the three dots, select ‘Mute’ and Bob’s your Uncle. It’ll give you the option to mute just the posts on the main feed or the posts AND story. And it really is just a few taps away. From the reading I have done, these people will be completely unaware on their new muted status too… so that’s a win,

The other thing is, it’s really, really easy to unmute. Just visit the profile, tap the three dots on the right next to their name and select unmute. You can unmute stories, posts or both. It’s really very easy.

Why would you want to mute someone on Instagram? Why wouldn’t you just unfollow?

This is a very, very fair question and I have been giving it a lot of thought.

Instagram has said that mute has been introduced to allow people to personalise their feed more, to see the content that they want. And before you think ‘well, I’ll just unfollow’, don’t forget that Facebook has offered the ‘unfollow’ option for a long old time now… and lots of people use it. Mute might be new to Instagram, but to social media it isn’t.

I think that, in today’s social media and digital world, unfollowing someone is like a virtual slap in the face and being told that they don’t want to be your friend anymore. It’s a bold statement. Realistically, it’s a click, but people take it really badly and it’s used as a gauge for someone’s like/dislike of you… sad but true…

So – a few reasons why you might want to mute someone on Instagram:

  • Maybe your friend is doing something seasonal you have no interest in and although you love them, you just don’t want to see all the images of something you have no interest in.
  • Maybe people are posting too much and it’s drowning out the content from friends and family members you really, really want to see.
  • Maybe you follow a large number of people because they’re clients or even potential clients and even though you like to keep in touch and see some of their pics, you don’t want to see all of their pics.
  • Maybe you like their Stories but not their posts. Or visa versa.
  • Maybe you’re trying to become less addicted to your phone and Instagram feed and want to give yourself less to be distracted by
  • Maybe you’re suffering with a horrible case of comparisonitis – you know it’s your issue but you need a bit of space away from everyone’s shiny Instagram feeds…

I kind of think I see muting someone as a ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ thing. What your friend/the person you’re following is posting is not wrong, and you don’t like them any less as a person (you’d probably unfollow in both these cases), but you just don’t see their content in the same way as before. You’re still able to go and visit their profile and like/comment away whenever you like, so it’s not so much a ‘go away’, more a way to give yourself a little bit of mental space.

I know there are conflicting views on the mute feature – personally I can really see where it can add value. But I do also agree with the fact that you shouldn’t follow people just for the sake of following them… and then mute them. If you want to build genuine engagement on a genuine account, when a follow from you actually means something, use mute wisely. And if you don’t want to build this kind of account, I’m not so sure that social media is the place for you to hang out… because the ‘social’ part is really important!

Are you on Instagram? I’m @rheafreemanpr – come and share your views on ‘Mute’ over there…there’s a Tip Tuesday post all about it.

Are you posting content that matters?Are you posting content that matters?

You may think that this is a really odd question – I mean – of course you are. Aren’t you? Of course you’re posting content that matters. Or are you posting content that’s there to simply get a reaction? Not a reaction that aligns with your business… or your goals… or your customers… just a reaction. Any reaction? I’m seeing more and more people post content that doesn’t really matter and doesn’t really serve any purpose other than to get an reaction. Of course, if that’s your only objective, then go ahead. But to me that’s a LOT of effort for zero result.

What is ‘content that matters’?

Content that matters has a purpose beyond just being a piece of content. Maybe you’re sharing a client story? Or maybe you’re sharing something to help inspire and motivate? A useful blog or podcast your heard/read that you thought had value? What constitutes ‘content that matters’ differs from person to person. It depends on the objectives of your business/page/profile, but it should always add value. Otherwise what is the point? Well, I think I might know the answer…

Are you trying to outsmart the algorithm?

Ok, I get it. Social media’s algorithms can make our job more challenging… but let’s just break it down a little… can we? Social media (I’m talking Facebook, Instagram, etc etc) is built on the people who use it. The companies who run these platforms want the user experience to be good and engaging and interesting. They want to keep people on their platform for as long as they can (because, let’s be honest, that makes them an even more appealing advertising platform). But a recent algorithm update states that it has changed to help people have ‘more meaningful interactions’. Meaningful is the keyword here. Yes, Facebook’s algorithm does look at a range of factors to see if your content ticks this box… and reactions, shares and comments do factor here… but if your content is seen as engagement bait, your content could actually be demoted. In December ’17, as a response to user feedback, Facebook started demoting posts with this ‘engagement bait’ type content. To enhance the user experience.

Why posting content that matters, matters

There are a few reasons why posting content that matter, matters… hopefully one of these will strike a cord…

  1. When someone reads a post, you’re taking up their time. Time is the MOST valuable commodity that we all have the same amount of… don’t waste it!
  2. It’ll take you as much time to create GOOD content as it will poor quality
  3. Content that doesn’t add to your story or to your customer’s story is a waste of your skills
  4. Everything you put out on social media should, in some way, align with your business, your beliefs or your goals. If it doesn’t do this, why post?
  5. You can create engagement bait style posts. You might get a lot of engagement. Yay. But are these people actually interested in you or your business? Even a bit? Will they like the page and stay around, engage, ask questions and maybe even become a customer? If you’re asking them to tag a friend who is… I don’t know… blonde… are they going to buying your course/product/service? Engagement matters (a LOT), but PROPER engagement, from your tribe, your fans and people who get you is what to aim at. Not just random people who have a friend with a certain colour of hair!

So, that’s why I urge you to make sure you are posting content that matters – not just click bait or engagement bait to get some reaction. It’s a hollow victory, and no one needs those!

Want to keep up to date with more social media, PR and marketing hints and tips? Join my newsletter list here.

How to use CanvaCanva. One of my favourite online places to be. I am a HUGE fan of Canva and regularly recommend it. I still find it amazing that not everyone knows about Canva, so I thought a blog that gives you the basics of how to use Canva would be a good call. Because it is such a game changer.

What is Canva?

Canva is a free – yes FREE – graphic design ‘tool’. It’s accessible online, it all works through the internet (you don’t need to download anything) and it is genuinely amazing. With loads of inspiration, design templates and even online tutorials about how to use Canva, it’s a really superb space. There are also paid for options (whether you want to buy an individual image or upgrade your package) but I’m not going to talk about them because I can honestly say I am yet to use them. I think as I have a lot of my own images, that helps a lot. Although the resize function would definitely be handy… so I’m not ruling it out. The reason I mention this is because there are so many platforms that are free to use, but if you want to do anything else, you have to pay. And when I mean anything else, I’m talking basic functionality here. I’m not having a pop at these kind of sites as everyone needs to make a living – I get that- but you can really create quality graphics, ads, posts and a LOT more for nothing through Canva.

How to use Canva

I am not saying that Canva should replace quality design – it shouldn’t. While I like to think I am OK-ish on the design spectrum, I am not a graphic designer. Graphic designers don’t just know how to use clever bits of software, then KNOW how to design. This can make the difference between an OK design and something that’s superb.

But, in my experience, Canva is incredible for making a graphic designer’s work go further. So if you want to add your beautifully designed logo to – I don’t know – a quote, Canva allows you to do this. So you’re using the graphic designer’s work with Canva. Equally, if you’ve taken an image you want to put onto social media, Canva allows you to do this. Ideally, you’d have a brand manual too, which would give you things like the hex colours, font families and other guidelines and how to use your marketing collateral so it stays on brand. But these guidelines can (and should) be integrated into anything you create through Canva.

I have also used Canva for bigger things – I have designed adverts through Canva. This is not something I like doing (but that’s because of my skillset, not Canva!), but it has that functionality as you can download your design as a print ready PDF, set the dimensions so it’s sized correctly, and even add bleed if needed. This means that Canva is more than just a tool for online graphics, memes, quotes and more, it’s also very, very capable of creating artwork for print too.

Canva templates

As I said, Canva has a huge range of templates available for you to use, for free. These will, usually, be to the correct size for what they say – like ‘Facebook Cover’ for example. However, if you have something specific in mind, you can just set your own dimensions – that’s the beauty of Canva – it lets you create what you actually need. When you’ve done your stunning piece of artwork, you can then download it in a range of formats, making it great for online as well as print.

Some of the template options are completely designed ready for you – you just change the words and the images as you like and they’re ready to go.

How to use Canva – what do I do?

I actually created a draft of my logo in Canva and then had a graphic designer refine and tweak it, but as I had the framework I could really show what I was thinking! Day to day, I use Canva for social media posts and blog images above everything else to be honest. It means I can quickly create the graphic I want with zero compromise, and I can use the elements I have had designed by a graphic designer in my designs too.

How do YOU use Canva?

If you haven’t used Canva yet, I would urge you to go and have a look on the Canva website here. There is also an app version that I have on my phone, but I have never really got on with that. I can do minor tweaks to designs and then screenshot them if I want to use them on Instagram, for example, but in my opinion the desktop version is head and shoulders above the app.

If you do you Canva, I’d love to know how you use it and why! Pop on over to Facebook to get involved!

What I learnt from giving a TEDx TalkIn April, I gave my first TEDx talk at TEDx Malvern. I learnt a HUGE amount in the run up to and during the experience, but I needed a bit of time to reflect before I could write this. I wanted to share with you what I learnt from giving a TEDx talk… it might just help you if you’re planning to give a TEDx talk or if you’re just looking to improve your public speaking.

What I learnt from giving a TEDx talk

For ease, I’m going to pop these in a kind of long bullet point form…

  • Public speaking is not as scary as I thought. I’ve always told myself that public speaking is scary… because I have had a few public speaking brushes before and all made my heart pound a bit. This time, I genuinely wasn’t scared. Which was weird. On the lead up to it I was a little anxious, but from the point I got in the car to make my way there, I really wasn’t…

 

  • I’m not as bad as public speaking as I thought. In my head, I had decided that I was not a gifted public speaker. And to be clear, there is PLENTY of room for improvement, I’m not denying this for a second. But I’m not bad. And the fact I have admitted to myself that I’m not bad has given me a huge confidence boost. Silly, isn’t it? We have the power to change how we feel about something so radically by shifting our perception from awful to ‘not as bad as I thought’. However, saying you’re not as bad as you thought, well, in my case, means I want to go on, learn more and do more. Saying I’m point blank terrible makes me want to run for the hills. So I’m not as bad as I thought. And I am happy with that.

 

  • Break it down. If you think of the whole TEDx talk ‘thing’ as one big chunk, it’s overwhelming. Breaking it down makes me much easier. I thought of it in a number of different ways and tried to work on a bit of it regularly, so what to wear (parts one and two!) was one thing, the draft of the talk, recording the talk, learning and ‘performing’ the talk, writing the cards, preparing the slides, sourcing the images, etc etc. I even broke some of these into bits – so I had a very vague outline for the talk I was giving and then started to fill bits in… and leave bits to get more info on and come back to. If I’d thought ‘right – today I am doing all things TEDx’ I would have come unstuck quickly. Because while I knew who I needed to speak to and needed pics from, getting images takes time… not a long time but with time differences it does. Chipping away at it and breaking it into bitesized chunks was much easier.

 

  • I can do slides. It turns out that I although I have seen a million (slight exaggeration) Powerpoint presentations before, I haven’t actually done one myself. I didn’t realise this until I started working on it and very quickly hated the design options available to me. I hated them so much that I designed every slide in Canva and imported it as an image into Powerpoint. So I don’t do slides in a conventional way, but I can do them.

 

  • Slides should not make up your talk. I watched a lot of talks on Youtube before my TEDx talk and I found one theme in common with what I thought were the best talks. The slides were limited (in some cases there were none), enhanced the talk by adding images/video/key facts, and were clear and easy to read. The ones I disliked the most had the talk on them… I mean, why have someone read something to you from a screen? Of course, some more technical talks benefit from more detailed slides with facts, figures, graphs and charts. Mine wouldn’t have. And although I could have added more slides with more images, I was quite happy with what I did.

 

  • Go with your gut. When I was talking through the slides with my Dad (who, turns out, has done loads of presentations using Powerpoint…) he was pretty sure I was putting over the wrong kind of thing. He said that images weren’t really right for slides. And they should be more dynamic than mine. Well I wanted images and I didn’t want crazy moving parts – it’s just not me. I’d also watched a lot of talks and realised that everyone is different and there’s no ‘right’ way. You do you. So I did me. And I was really pleased with what I’d done.

 

  • What you wear matters. This is something I’m slowly beginning to realise. Your clothes aren’t just about how you look, it’s how they make you feel. I put a fair amount of thought into my outfit (and was ably assisted by Sophie Callahan and Karen McConnell) and I was pleased with how I looked. Looking at the pics taken on the night, I was cross with how my shirt creased at the front… I would probably wear something different in style next time because of this, but I felt confident and happy (and it did look really good before an hour’s car journey and an hour sitting down in a theatre!)

 

  • Enjoy it, because it doesn’t really matter. Don’t think I’m being flippant here. I am incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity and TEDx matters a LOT, but I decided that enjoying it, to me, was important. This was also a bit deeper because if I worried myself stupid and told myself that it mattered SO much, I would have been scared of making a mistake. Of stumbling. Of losing my thought. This would make it a lot more likely that I would and, if I did, I would struggle to get back on track. When I decided that I would give it my best shot but, quite rightly, acknowledged that no one was going to die if I messed up, I was able to enjoy it and really think I delivered a much better talk as a consequence.

 

  • Preparation matters. I felt fairly confident in what I was doing for many reasons – and one was the amount of prep I had done. I had had a fairly quite week to make sure I had time to prepare (thanks for the kick in that direction Emma Warren!) but it made a huge difference. I didn’t over rehearse what I was saying but I had a few good run throughs, had everything ready in plenty of time- I’d even allocated time to iron my shirt! Preparing things on every level helped me feel a lot more confidence for my TEDx talk.

 

  • Cheerleaders. For various reasons, I didn’t know anyone at who attended the TEDx talk. There was talk of different people coming with me but I didn’t push the point and it didn’t happen – the talk sold out very quickly too, so that was quite a large factor. But you know what? It didn’t matter, because while no one was sat in the theatre, I have the BEST bunch of cheerleaders who were with me every step of the way on my phone. I had SO many lovely comments come through email, messenger and text during the day and had lots of messages asking how it had gone too. I think I was in the car for about 30 mins replying to everything before I started on my way back. That made me feel incredibly special. Your cheerleaders don’t have to be in the same room… or even in the same country!

 

  • I want to do more of it. A rather unexpected result of my TEDx talk was that I want to do more public speaking… yeah, I was surpised too. As soon as the event had finished and I was outside chatting to some of the attendees, I was approached about giving other talks, so that was nice.

 

  • You need to step beyond your comfort zone to grow. And to get that lovely buzz that’s a mix of pride, achievement and possibility. It’s a nice buzz.

 

  • If plan A doesn’t work out, there’s a load more letters… and if you get stuck, ask for help. I had put a post on my Facebook page asking for a case study element for my talk. Whether I didn’t explain it properly or what, I don’t know, but none of the responses were what I needed. This was a problem as it really illustrated the point. It wasn’t until I was speaking to Sophie Callahan that the idea hit me. And I should add that it was her facial expression that gave it away. See, I was looking for someone in my local area who had connected with someone in a rural location through social media. Of course, the answer was looking me straight in the face – I was the perfect example. You know sometimes people say things are too obvious? Yeah – that.

 

  • You can condition yourself. I started off being nervous and managed to feel excited. This was due to something Emma Warren, my lovely client and friend suggested. In essence, it was when you feel a pang of ‘Oh Christ, what have I done, it’s going to be awful’, do something to change the game. She suggested I rubbed my hands together and said ‘I’m so excited about giving my talk and sharing my knowledge with the people there – it’s going to be great’. Or something like that. Damn me it worked. I only did it twice… and then I struggled to get worried about it. Weird. But it worked!

 

So that’s a snapshot of what I learnt from TEDx. Although I feel that this could have applied to all public speaking and all of the above will definitely help me in the future.

If you’d like to see my TEDx talk, you can have a look at it here. I hope you enjoy it. And HUGE thanks to Jane at Confident Rider and her friend Vivre for helping me illustrate how incredible social media is…

Behind the different types of instagram storiesOh, Instagram Stories – how I love thee! I’m a big fan of Instagram Stories, and get a tiny bit excited when a new feature is unveiled. As Focus has recently joined the Instagram Stories family, I thought it would be a good chance to have a chat about the options currently available, the different types of Instagram Stories, and how you might be able to use them. I use quite a lot of these in my own Instagram account...

The different types of Instagram Stories

So, just to recap on how to get into Instagram Stories… open your Instagram app > press your home button (bottom left) > press the camera button on the top left.

Now you’re here, should we explore the options together?

TYPE – if you have something to say or you maybe want to introduce a poll, Type is a good option. You can select different colours an different font styles. You can also hide hashtags quite easily on the Type background.

LIVE – pretty much as you’d expect, this is for you when you want to go Live. I am going to cover Instagram Live in more detail in a different blog because it’s a different beast to Stories (in my opinion), but when you want to go live, it’s there.

NORMAL – this is for still images and short videos. To take a pic, just tap the button once. If you want to record a short video, hold the button down. Colour will fill around the edge of the button and this is your countdown timer. Each clip is 15 seconds long if recorded through the app. There are ways you can chop a longer video up into 15 second clips, but 15 seconds is how it will display.

BOOMERANG – I love Boomerang. It’s a really simple way to creating a more dynamic shot. It actually works by taking a load of photos and playing them in order and reversed. Nifty.

FOCUS – a bit like my beloved Portrait mode. Focus allows you to bring the person into focus and the background becomes blurred. This works on still images and videos.

SUPERZOOM – this is a bit of fun. Select this if you want to zoom in on something in an amusing way. You can also select the style of your Superzoom from Dramatic, Beats, TV Show and Bounce. Just tap the little musical note (oh yeah- there’s music).

REWIND – plays the video in reverse. I’ve only tried this once… I tend to use Boomerang instead.

HANDS-FREE – lets you record a video without having to have your finger permanently welded to your phone screen, which is a bit of a win.

STOP-MOTION – I love stop motion. I created my Christmas campaign using stop motion (OK, I used an app and posted on FB, but still). The stop motion in Instagram Stories required a lot of tapping but it’s a fun way to show a sequence of events or process.

As if that wasn’t enough, you can also add text, stickers, GIFs, hashtags and tag people to all of the above!

Instagram Stories should be fun to watch and do – so mess around with the different styles inside the app… if you don’t like the result, delete it and no one ever need see it. And if you post it, it’ll be gone in 24 hours anyway! Enjoy!

If you’d like to see how I use Instagram Stories, you can find me at @rheafreemanpr

…and feel free to tag me if you’ve tried something new on Instagram Stories as a result of reading this!

five facts about social mediaI recently gave a TEDx talk about social media. Well, more specifically about how social media can connect rural communities and how it’s a force for good. I know, quite a wordy title. Part of my talk was social media stats. I felt this was an important if not essential part. Why? Well, I hear so many people say that Facebook is ‘dead’, or that no one uses social media anymore. Argh. It’s rubbish. We know this, but when you throw a few current stats at it, you realise how rubbish it is. So I thought I would share five facts about social media that I think are kind of mind-blowing… and the reason I think they’re incredible too. I have this thing that numbers are great, but adding a visual element is better. You’ll see what I mean…

Five facts about social media that you’ll want to remember…

Facebook is INCREDIBLE. Over 2.2 billion people are monthly active users of Facebook and 1.4 billion people use it each day – according to Facebook’s own stats in March ’18. When you consider that there’s 7.4 billion people on the planet, this makes it even more incredible… don’t you think?

Twitter is seen as a much smaller platform- because it is (let’s be honest), with around 330 million monthly active users, it is. That number, however, is about the same as the population of the United States.

Heard of the six degrees of separation? No? Well don’t worry too much… it’s a lot smaller now! According to Facebook’s own research, there’s not just 3.57 degrees of separation connecting everyone who uses Facebook. All 2.2 billion of us. This was in 2016 for Friends Day, so the chances are it’s even smaller now!

Facebook owns Oculus, a tech company with a focus on Virtual Reality. Can you imagine if connection with Facebook friends and customers could be done in a three dimensional virtual world? Without the need to leave your house? Well – you don’t need to imagine- just pop on over to Facebook Spaces and get a little glimpse of what the future of social media could look like.

Instagram has 800 million monthly active users and 500 million daily active users. 500 million. Each day. On a platform that started in October 2010.

 

So yes, I make no secret of the fact that I am a huge fan of social media. I find it incredible how many people we can connect to through it and the features it has. I mean, it’s amazing. I know it gets a bashing from time to time, but just look. Look at the potential it has. The potential for good. The potential for business. To me, that’s something that is very, very exciting and worth talking about. You can find a LOT more mind blowing stats about social media online… this just just a snapshot…

Seven ways to use Instagram StoriesYou might have realised that I’m a big fan of Instagram Stories (hop on over to my Instagram if you’re yet to!), but the good news is that they’re not JUST fun. In fact, they can provide a great way to connect with your audience. I was asked about Instagram Stories a little while ago in one of the Facebook Live sessions, so decided that it would be a good opportunity to talk about them and different ways to use Instagram Stories.

Seven ways to Instagram Stories

Depending on the nature of your business, blog or Instagram account, you can choose to use your Instagram Stories in a number of ways…here are seven ways to use Instagram Stories that you might find useful…

  • Document. Unlike your main feed images that are more than likely well thought through and carefully composed with a key point or message, Instagram Stories don’t need to be. They can be used to document what you’re up to in your day. Yes, you want to have a point to the Story, but it doesn’t have to be as specific as a main feed image.
  • Behind the scenes. Stories are a great way to show what goes on behind the scenes at where you work. It could be the creation of a product, getting ready for a show, packaging, personalisation… the list goes on.
  • Events. Instagram Stories provide the perfect place to put show and event content up. This kind of falls into the document category, but still.
  • Interviews. You can use Instagram Stories to record micro interviews with people. Brand ambassador? Customer? Team member… if they have something concise to stay, use Stories.
  • Poll. Yep – you can use Instagram Stories to ask an opinion and then integrate a poll into the Story that people can vote on.
  • Promotion. Promote a blog post using Stories. You can take an image of it on the screen, add an image or a graphic you’ve created, or even make a short video. It’s up to you. You could also use Stories to promote a specific hashtag on competition. Honestly, there’s SO much scope.
  • Share a thought. Instagram Stories can be the perfect place to share a thought. I do this a LOT.. usually when I’m walking the dog or waiting for my children to wake up from a car ride. It’s a nice way to connect with your audience authentically and let your personality come out.

And this is JUST the surface of it all and a few ideas. I use my own Instagram Stories for all of the above and more. I’ve showcased products for competitions through Stories, shared client posts. shown press clippings (with permission) and lots more.

How do you use Instagram Stories? What do you think of the ways to use Instagram Stories listed above? I’d love to know. And if you’d like to see my Instagram Stories in action, please do come and follow my Instagram at @rheafreemanpr