It can be really lonely being a sole trader or leading a small business, and that’s where small business coaching can make a big difference.

The small business coaching I offer, I think, is pretty different to what’s available generally. However, I know that the support and advice I offer my clients, when followed, generates real results. This part of the blog is an extension of this – of the way I operate and the things I feel are valuable to you.

Here you’ll find tips linked to running your small business and helping it thrive, and you’ll also be able to read about small businesses who are completely nailing it out there. Many of whom I coach. And I’m very proud to be associated with.

Small business coaching can make a huge difference, however you’re looking to grow your business. Just because you’re master of your own destiny, it doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.

Can you repost professional photographs on social media?

Quote image by Sophie Callahan Photography.

In a fairly recently Monday Q and A on my Facebook page, I received a variation of this question: ‘can you repost professional photographs on social media?’. Now, I want to put this into context a little. The person who posted was asking about a rider that they sponsor. The rider had added what was clearly a professionally taken image to their social media media. So does that mean that the company can repost it? Well no, not necessarily.

Can you repost professional photographs on social media?

If I was giving a one word answer, that would be no. If, in the case above, a rider has posted a professional picture on social media, this doesn’t mean you can automatically. Even if the rider has asked permission for the photographer and this has been granted, this doesn’t automatically mean you can…

So, first of all, your rider might not have the proper permission. Many people buy prints and take pics of the prints and then post these. This isn’t right. Often, photographers will provide social media images (that can be purchased for not much money) that CAN be used on social media. Some photographers add this in a package when someone buys a print. They all don’t but some do.

Now, even if the above has been done properly, that does not mean that you as a business can repost without permission. I mean, people do, let’s be honest about this, but you need to reach out to the photographer and get their written permission for this. Some may request further payment… you don’t have to pay this. But if you decide not to pay it, do NOT repost the image. Please. It’s not good. Many photographers are happy, if the image has been purchased correctly and you credit it to let you use it on your social media. I did speak to a few photographers about this and they agreed.

What about sharing a picture?

Sharing an image from the original source is a bit different. If the photographer has posted the image and you share direct, then technically there shouldn’t be an issue here (as long as you SHARE the image, you don’t screenshot or save the image and then post as your own). Some photographers do explain on their page that they do not want this done, and some confirm that they’re happy if images are shared but no saved and posted. Respect this.

Sharing and reposting are very very different animals. Sharing and retweeting show the original source clearly… reposting should (if you use the correct apps) but doesn’t in the same way. You also move the image from the photographer (or rider’s) feed to your own and post it natively there.

If a rider has shared an image from a photographer with a watermark across it… don’t share it. Again, USUALLY, when an image has been purchased properly, the watermark is removed. This isn’t always the case for social media images but generally it is.

And what if the photograph is really good?

It doesn’t matter how good it is. If it doubt (any doubt!) always ask. Always.

Are photographers just being mean?

Sometimes you’ll find a really grumpy photographer, just like you’ll find really grumpy INSERT ANY OTHER PROFESSION HERE. But this? No, this is their livelihood. And as far as I’m aware, not that many banks take goodwill in lieu of a mortgage payment. Of course, if the image has already been purchased once (important point!), it’s to promote the rider, they sponsor the rider, or various other situations, you’re more than likely to get a ‘yes, no problem’ response. But if you don’t ask… well… you could really annoy a photographer and could be charged too.

the filters we applyThis ‘behind…’ is a bit different to normal. I usually go behind the scenes of a campaign, competition or product launch. Now, fear not, I’ll be going back there next week, but today I want to talk about the filters we apply. No, not to our social media pics. The filters we apply to our lives and the events that happen to us.

Filters?

Yes. Filters. You can call them frames if you like – lots of people do. Basically, it’s the way you view something. Exciting or scary? Hard work or challenging? Get it? Now, if we explore the filters idea (because, you know, I like social media!), then I think it becomes clear…

Let’s talk about filters

Imagine you take a picture (well, no need to imagine, I’m sure you take a lot of pictures!) and now let’s think of the filter you apply before you show the world.

Let’s look at Instagram’s filters… I’m just going to pick a few to illustrate. Don’t be a filter snob here. I might not mention the ones you like… it’s OK… and if I mention the ones below and you disagree with my assessment, that’s fine too. I’m all about the metaphor!

So, we start with no filter. In Instagram terms (and real life), this is what it is. There’s nothing added or taken away to give a different feel, thought, look or opinion. The picture here is a dandelion.

Now, Clarendon… this makes everything pop, makes it all more vibrant (well, on the image I’m messing around with it does). This has made the image brighter – it looks sunnier than before, everything looks lush, green, rosy and spring like. So maybe, if we flip around to our own filters, Clarendon is an optimistic filter than makes everything look a little ‘better’ than it is.

Reyes… the image I’m using now has lost its vibrancy. The yellow dandelions, the green grass… they feel less than they should be in this context. It’s almost like the image has been subdued in some way. Flipping to the life filter, this could be a filter that makes things look less ‘shiny’. Maybe a really exciting opportunity becomes great or ‘ok’.

X-Pro II… the drama! The colours have become deeper, so has the road surface in the image… it feels dramatic and exaggerated. I don’t dislike what it’s done to the dandelion image, but if you have your X-Pro II filter on in real life, it could be good or bad.

See where I’m going with this?

So, what do filters have to do with anything? How do the filters we apply change anything?

They change how we view things. The filter doesn’t have to change the thing we’re seeing, but it’ll change how we feel about it all. The story we create around it. The picture here, the one of dandelions. What do you see? A weed? A flower? Something yellow? Food? A life line for bees? It’s all of these things, depending on how you view it.

Take a situation. I’m going to use public speaking. So, you get invited to speak somewhere. Now what. Are you scared? Excited? Fearing ridicule? What are you thinking? It’s actually completely up to us BUT it can also change the outcome of this kind of event. It’s a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy. My amazing friend, Emma Warren, made me think about this the other day. She asked me how I was feeling about my TEDx talk. I said I was nervous. That I was not good at public speaking. She suggested that each time that thought entered my head I did a physical thing and repeated a basic mantra to change how I viewed it. To change my filter. To switch nerves into excitement. I only did this a couple of times and I felt the worry lift. And then I didn’t think of the disaster scenario again, that was connected to my anxiety. I was still a little anxious – I mean – public speaking is not something I do lots of – but I wasn’t scared. I was kind of excited. If I’d had the wrong filter in place, I wouldn’t have been.

I like the filter analogy. I’m sure it’s been used before (so I’m not saying it’s my idea, I just haven’t seen it myself), but I usually see it referred to as framing. I always understood the concept, but when I was walking the dog, pondering life, listening to an audiobook and saw that the verges were lined with dandelions, everything started to fit together. Weed or flower? Food or decoration? It depends what filter you apply. This depends on your pre-sets (you can tell I work with a lot of photographers, can’t you?!), but it also means that YOU CAN CHANGE IT.

I hasten to add that I am no mindset coach and I’m no expert in psychology, far from it, this is very much my take on it, based on my own thoughts.

Do you apply filters to certain scenarios? Are you aware of the filters you’re applying? I’d love to know.

How to dress for a TEDx talkAs you may have seen in a previous post, I’m a speaker at TEDx Malvern later this month. I’m completely honoured and excited to have been asked and actually can’t wait to give my talk. I mean, any form of public speaking, especially something like TEDx, does get the heart pumping a bit faster and give the tummy butterflies a work out, but I really am excited about it.

Why does how to dress for a TEDx talk matter?

Bizarrely, the bit that has caused me the most ‘discomfort’ is what I am planning to wear. I know. Does it even matter? Well, yes, the more I have delved into this area, the more I really believe it does. So much so, that I have ‘recruited’ a ‘Glam Squad’ to help me dress for my TEDx talk, and will be putting together a fair amount of content around the subject. Yes, I’ll be looking at how to dress for a TEDx talk, but I’m hoping that the insight that I can produce (well, the Glam Squad can!) will help anyone who is planning to do something that’s a bit more public than they’re used to. If it’s public speaking, attending an event, meeting new people, networking – whatever, what you wear matters. But not just on a superficial level. It’s actually about the way it makes you feel, and that’s something I am really focusing on for my TEDx talk, and one of the things that has been at the front on my mind when deciding how to dress for my TEDx talk.

Meet the ‘Glam Squad’

I titled our Facebook Messenger chat ‘Glam Squad’ and it’s stuck (for me anyway!!) but I wanted to introduce you to two ladies who have been a massive massive help in helping me put together outfit ideas. The first is Karen McConnell (of KA Equestrian and Karen & Clan), and the second is Sophie Callahan (of, well, Sophie Callahan!).

About Karen 

Karen is a mum of two, she’s horsey, she has a dog, she’s a Toggi blogger and has really exceptional taste in clothes. Both of Karen’s blogs show this. Her equestrian style is best showcased through KA Equestrian, and the clothes she wears when not on the yard are showcased through her lifestyle blog, Karen & Clan. Karen’s style, for me at least, ticks a lot of boxes. It always looks well thought through and everything just works. The clothing is practical (OK, unless she’s off out somewhere swanky, then it’s full on glamour!) and by that I mean she can actually walk, play with the kids and move about when wearing it. I see many, many gorgeous outfits and clothes on my travels but, for me, it has to be practical. I always like to feel that I can be ‘useful’ if needed, and if I’m wearing something I can barely move it, I’ll struggle to drive, let alone anything else! Comfort is a word that makes me think of pyjamas and hoodies, but when I say comfortable here, I mean it as an extension of the above. Comfort is a big deal in my world. If I wear a top that’s an inch too short, I will spend the whole time pulling it down. The same applies with every other item of clothing too – I’ll fiddle and faff with it constantly. This isn’t sit on the sofa comfort, it’s more a smart comfort. I feel Karen does this so well.

About Sophie

Sophie is an absolute diamond too, and I’ve always loved the way she dresses. She’s best known for her photography – well, I say best known, she’s also very well known as an equestrian and country lifestyle blogger and vlogger!

There are many similarities between Sophie and Karen’s overall style vibe in many ways – practical as well as pretty. Sophie tends to wear jeans a lot (same as me!) and she has curves that she freely admits/blogs about. Since having my children, I’m more conscious then ever about certain areas, mainly my stomach, so having Sophie’s knowledge of how to dress curves well is a huge help to me. If you saw Sophie’s blog last year about what she was wearing for HOYS, you’ll find out a lot more about her style, and you’ll see why I wanted her as part of the Glam Squad too.

Both these ladies have been a HUGE help. They have dealt with me sending pics of things I’ve seen and liked at various times of the day and night, chatted through colours and ideas, accepted my many (many) quirks and been very accepting on the areas I want to hide/not draw attention to. I am going to go into this in more detail in the blogs to follow. And I see the irony that I am quite literally highlighting the areas I want to hide, but what I’ve come to realise is that we all have these quirks. I think both Karen and Sophie’s figures are fab- enviable in fact – but both have areas that they’re not as confident about. And they address this by being careful about the clothing that they pick. I tend to huff and puff, get cross about it all and revert to something that has tent like qualities. Sure, this hides a lot of issues, but creates another in that it increases my overall mass by a huge amount. Which is not what anyone really wants to do!

What was the brief?

I spoke to Sophie and Karen about helping me when I first found out about the talk. They’re both clients and friends and I respect their opinion. We also have a relationship that means they can tell me that I’m wrong and be completely honest. And that’s what I need. I need people whose opinion I trust and I can be honest with. Because I have pretty strong opinions too.

I’m not sure either of them realised just how ‘quirky’ I could be when it comes to what I wear.

So, the TEDx talk will be filmed, I’ll be speaking against a black background, and it will be in front of an audience of people, on a stage. That’s the easy bit.

As for how to dress for the TEDx talk… the girls had some criteria to work with…

  • I’m tall – 6ft tall in fact, and although this is something I clearly can not change, it’s not something I’m hugely comfortable with. Some styles and cuts elongate and make you look taller, that was something to avoid.
  • My stomach – yep – I’m not sure I was that thrilled with my whole stomach area before, but after having twins it’s certainly not an area I’m very pleased with. OK, that sounds harsh, it looked after two tiny humans for nine months, so I can’t be too cross at it, but it’s not toned or flat. Again, I’m OK with this day to day, but I wouldn’t want anything to particularly draw attention to this area. So they had to contend with that too.
  • I’m pale. I have pale skin, darkish hair, and I am not confident when it comes to the application of make up. So the colours picked need to work with what I affectionately refer to as a ‘pasty’ complexion.
  • Jeans. I made it very clear from very early on that I was planning to wear jeans. I can do dresses (just!), I can do skirts, but I am 100% more confident if I’m wearing jeans. Maybe it’s something to do with being useful? They’re dark and smart and skinny in appearance. But they were pretty much a non negotiable.

See, I bet you thought the ladies had an easy time, didn’t you?

I’ll be creating a variety of different content over the next few weeks to show you how I’m dressing for my TEDx talk and why, some of the lovely products I’ve borrowed, what I’ve bought and more. I have some gorgeous pieces to show you and I think you’ll love them too. So here’s to our little journey about how to dress for a TEDx talk!

Brooke HackathonToday, we’re talking about Sweet Images’ photographs for Brooke

I’m really excited to share a bit about the latest campaign by my client and friend Rachel Bragg, the incredible photographer behind Sweet Images. Rachel is an equestrian portrait, event and commercial photographer and has some amazing projects on the go. But there’s one we’re allowed to talk about now, and that’s a campaign she photographed for Brooke.

A bit about Brooke’s latest campaign – MyHackathon

Brooke has recently launched the MyHackathon campaign; a clever fundraising initiative that raises vital funds for the charity. The challenge, for those taking part, is to hack 100 miles, in 100 days, and raise £100 for Brooke. This isn’t the first year that Brooke has run this campaign, with last year’s attracting support from Charlotte Dujardin, Richard Waygood and Claire Harker.

So what about Sweet Images and this year’s MyHackathon?

We’re going to focus on Claire Harker, whose Instagram account @life_through_the_ears has just under 5k followers (at time of writing!). Last year, Claire took part in MyHackathon and raised £450 for Brooke.

So… now the scene has been set, it’s over to Rachel at Sweet Images…

How did you meet Claire and The Ears?

“I originally met Claire and ‘The Ears’ having made contact with her through Instagram. I’d been following them for quite a while and just loved their daily dose of life in Windsor Park. Rock’s character (‘The Ears’!) is very strong and comes through the images well. I approached Claire and we did a shoot together towards the end of 2017. I’ve been further hooked on their life ever since. Claire is a fabulous woman who clearly dotes on her boy and is incredibly surprised how well her IG account is being received. She’s incredibly humble, and I love that!

Tell us about this amazing duo

“The image of Claire and Rock was taken during a photoshoot I worked on for Brooke as part of their 2018 #MyHackathon campaign. Claire and Rock, who is also known as ‘The Ears’ within his role on Instagram featuring on the account @life_through_the_ears, have been chosen by Brooke to be their Brand Ambassador and Face of #MyHackathon

What do Claire and The Ears to together?

“Claire is also a rider with the Light Cavalry, sort of a Territorial Army version of the Household Cavalry. The horses are mostly privately owned but come under the care of the Light Cav so they can be used for ceremonial duties, mostly around London. They take stage in events such as The Lord Mayors Show and the annual inspect. Rock was brought into Claire’s life specifically as she wanted to become a LH rider and he’s been the perfect horse for this line of work. He’s a big strapping dark black horse with a white blaze – just what we’ve all come to see on the streets of London really! Sadly he’s got some joint issues now which means much of the ceremonial duties he used to perform are now not really possible for him.”

Where can we find 0ut more about the first shoot?

You can read more about Rachel, Claire and Rock’s shoot here.

To find out more about MyHackathon, just potter on over to Brooke’s site and get involved.

To find out more about Rachel and Sweet Images, visit the Sweet Images website.

how to use polls on instagramSo, quite a while ago, Instagram added a poll feature to Stories. Everyone went mad about it and there were polls about everything, everywhere. I reached my poll limit very quickly and made a small protest about using them. Because I didn’t want to be just someone else asking a question. Because I wanted to use any poll I created to actually influence a change, or relate to something relevant. And not a lot of people were doing that. But now the initial excitement about polls seems to have worn off, I’ve embraced them a little more. Here’s five ways to use polls on Instagram.

How to use polls on Instagram

First of all, let’s just remember that at the moment, polls can only be used on Instagram Stories. This isn’t a problem (in fact, I think having a pretty ugly looking poll on a main feed image would look wrong, but maybe I’m just a bit old fashioned?), but it’s something to be aware of. Like any other Instagram Story, a poll will exist for just 24 hours…

Here are five ways to use polls on Instagram…

  • Market research – can’t decide whether to stock a product or not? Want to make sure there’s a demand for something you’re planning to sell/offer? A poll is a great way to do this.
  • To show options. If you offer two colours in a product, or offer personalisation, or can wear something two ways, a poll can be fab. Create an image (if you don’t have fancy graphic design software, look at Canva) and then place your poll on the image (in the app). It’s a nice way to show what you have to offer.
  • Engagement. Oh yes. Stories tend to get good a good number of view in relation to the size on an Instagram following (especially if you use hashtags and geotags… but that’s a different blog!), but do these people merely look at your content and swipe on, or do they actually care? Asking someone’s opinion can make them feel important and enhance a connection, which is important.
  • Test an idea. Want to try something new on your blog or vlog? Then you can ask your following what they think or even what they’d like to see. Ok, you can only give them two options, but I recently did this and I found the results really interesting. For example, I asked whether people would like to see more brand information (which I see as people behind the brand, how it developed, etc) in contrast to product information. Of course, you can’t see the why with a poll (and it would require greater input by the person who’s been kind enough to get involved), but the information I gathered has given me food for thought and I will be using this feedback.
  • Share an opinion. This might be on something tame (I did one about the weather!) or it could be something a lot more daring. If you have a strong opinion you want to share, and you want to see if you’re alone in your thinking/find people singing from the same hymn sheet, a poll can do the job. However, if you’re planning to share a strong opinion, as with doing this anywhere, be aware that you might have push back.

So, there are five easy ways to use polls on Instagram. However, I would still urge people not to overuse polls as, like anything, they can become a little boring. However, when used well, they can be a positive addition to an Instagram Story, for that day at least.

If you want to join other small businesses and chat about all things social media, marketing, PR, sales and a lot more, make sure you check out my free Small & Supercharged business group on Facebook… if you liked this article, I think you’ll love it!

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.

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?

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 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 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.