Featured Posts

<< >>

7 things you didn’t know about me

There was a thing on Facebook a while back – ‘7 things you didn’t know about me’, I found out some really interesting things about my friends and enjoyed reading their posts. So here are mine to share with you. 1. My degree is in

Make the most of Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday

I was delighted to be the guest speaker for the Balsall Business Club last week in their new venue, the Jubilee Centre. I spoke about Small Business Saturday and how to make the most of it, for anyone who couldn’t make it, here’s what I

I’m dreaming of a West Jet Christmas

Twas the month before Christmas, when all through the world, Not a person was stirring from WestJet’s Youtube. With just nine weeks until Christmas, one thing I’m really looking forward to is West Jet’s Christmas promotion. Two years ago they did a fun and popular

Blues head to the top of the social media table

Today is Trevor Francis Day #TFday; a celebration of one of Birmingham City’s favourites who became the game’s first million pound player when he was sold to their opponents today, Nottingham Forest. My love for Blues started early, had my dad had his way, I

Good tweets make good news

A lovely story in this weekend’s Scotsman newspaper, Sir Chris Hoy and his wife Sarra celebrating their baby son coming home from hospital.  It had all the right elements a nice photo, gratitude from both parents for the care received from hospital staff, and thanks to

Make the most of Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday

I was delighted to be the guest speaker for the Balsall Business Club last week in their new venue, the Jubilee Centre. I spoke about Small Business Saturday and how to make the most of it, for anyone who couldn’t make it, here’s what I covered:

What is Small Business Saturday?

The aim of Small Business Saturday is to highlight the success of small businesses and encourage consumers to shop local, supporting independent businesses in their community. It was started by American Express, covers any business with a turnover of under £10million and is now in its 5th year.  This year Small Business Saturday is 2 December.

How can it help you?

  • Publicity – Sign up for the free directory so if people are looking for a business like yours, they’ll find you.
  • Logos – Download the marketing materials so you can show your support for the day.
  • Advice – There’s tons of useful advice and information on the website about all aspects of running your business

how small business saturday helps

How to use Small Business Saturday?

Essentially it is an opportunity to tell your story.  Remember, people like to buy from people, so show them who you are.  Tell the about why you started your business, how your business is different from your competitors or big names. Show your passion, what do you love about your business, why do you do what you do? This post about our first year as a limited company was really popular.

Share it

You can write up your story as a blog on your website just like this, if you haven’t got your own is there someone else who could host it for you? If you have a Facebook Page you can add it as a Note (it could look like this). On LinkedIn? Add it as an article.  Share the links on your social media accounts.

Get noticed

Connect and engage with the Small Business Saturday social media accounts, they use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Use the hashtag #SmallBizSatUK. Tag their accounts and those of partners, supporters and anyone else you want to notice your story in your social media posts.  Help others too; if you share their story it might prompt them to share yours too.

If you write up your story for Small Business Saturday or have other plans let me know, I’d be happy to support you.

Visit the Small Business Saturday website for all the information and downloads you need to make it a success for your business.

To find out more about the Balsall Business Club visit their website.

Wow! We are 1!

social media company marks first birthday

It’s a year since Wow! Signal Communications took the step to become a limited company, and what a first year it has been.

When I took a few minutes to reflect on the past year and the move from freelance social media consultant to company director, it made me realise just how big a change it has been.

Firstly, it’s not just me. A year ago my husband, James, joined Wow! Signal Communications for a day a week to help me manage the extra clients we had taken on and to add his experience as a specialist writer and communications professional. It was a change that helped our work-life balance as well as the business itself, and I’m glad to say that we work together well. We’ve built an office at home, taken on business support and drawn up plans for the future. For two years is was just me, freelancing while juggling being a busy mum to three young boys. We’re now a family business.

wow signal communications social media office

We’ve grown our retained client list to 12 and are really excited by the range of businesses we support. James and I are fortunate to be working with some truly dedicated and talented people whether they are specialist agencies, technology companies, professional services or healthcare providers. All of them using our support to connect with their customers and grow through social media. We’ve been proud to have grown organically – through recommendations and testimonials – and a big thanks to those who have supported our business and believed in us.

We’ve taken new directions too. We saw that more and more people valued the one-to-one advice we gave, so we’ve developed a training offering for sole traders and small businesses where they can sit down with me for an hour and get personalised, specific social media advice. And it’s not just business training anymore. Parents must now navigate the world of social media on behalf of their children, and we’re developing courses to help them understand how to do that.

The variety is something I love about my work. This month I was involved in the counter terrorism practice exercise Border Reiver. I work for The Social Simulator, role-playing members of the public and journalists to simulate how social media plays out during an incident. It is fabulous to work with such a talented team on an incredibly important piece of work.

Image credit PA. From BBC news story about Operation Reiver

Image credit PA. From BBC news story about Operation Reiver

Increasingly, our clients are widening the range of support from us. This year has seen us take our first steps into the world of branding, and to have our first proposal approved and implemented was a proud day for us.

Our plans for the coming year?

We stay committed to our fantastic clients, while developing our training services. We spend more time on promoting our business and sharing our thoughts. We adapt and grow as the demands of our family life change.

Here’s to another fantastic year!

Does your business need a Facebook boost?

Facebook for Business course

Why Facebook for business?

More than half of the UK’s population and 76% of the UK’s internet users have a Facebook account. Despite reports of Facebook being on its way out, the number of people using Facebook far exceeds any other social media channel and there are still a large number of social media users who only have a Facebook account and don’t have any other accounts.

This is clearly shown in Ofcom’s most recent Adults Media Use and Attitudes report for 2017.

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 12.10.57

So if you are looking for a way to talk to your customers, chances are they are on Facebook and your business could be making use of it to communicate with them.

It is easy to use, much simpler than a website to update, and can be managed any time, from anywhere, as long as you have a smart phone. If you need help, then I offer Facebook for Business training, but here’s some key things to think about.

You’ll need a business page, which remains separate from your personal profile, so you don’t have to mix the two if you don’t want to.  You can have more than one person who updates the page so if there are two or three people within your business who are keen they can all help manage the page.

What to post on Facebook?

Once you’re up and running you can let people know what your business is up to, any offers you are running, last minute changes to opening hours, or you could ask for feedback on new products or ideas.  It is best to post most days, and as well as information about you and your business you could also post links to relevant news stories or share posts from other pages that you think your customers would be interested in. People also love behind the scenes updates and information, it might be day-to-day stuff for you, but it builds a connection with your customers and potential customers.

You can also interact with other local businesses by posting on their Facebook pages and community sites such as Balsall Common.  If you add something interesting to their page they may share it with their fans, boosting your audience.

The only down side is that Facebook won’t show your posts to everyone who likes your page, there is a complicated formula that determines how many of them will see your updates each time you post, but there are ways to ensure you reach lots of people.

Facebook advertising

One of them is to pay – Facebook offers some very targeted advertising options, and you can select your audience by age, location, interests, and parents with children of a particular age. As prices start from just a few pounds, you don’t need a big budget. But you do need to be careful to select the right options to get the best results.

So what are you waiting for, your customers are on Facebook, are you making the most of it?

Learn more about Facebook

If you aren’t sure how to make the best of your Facebook page, why not come along to my next Facebook for Business training course. We’ll go through the differences between a personal profile and a page, the best times to post, the best content to post, how you can check whether your updates are working, and crucially how to use video on Facebook – a vital skill if you want to make the most of your Facebook Page.

Facebook for Business Training course

Do I need a new social media channel?

new channel

My 11 year-old son, a keen and sensible youtuber asked me a question last night –

“I want to start a second youtube channel, can you set it up for me?”

It’s a common theme on training courses I deliver and for clients – I often get asked to set up new channels, or if new ones are a good idea. And my response is the same as I gave my son.

Do you have a separate audience you are trying to reach?

Are your target audience using social media channels that you aren’t currently? If not, then why do you need a new channel? It is far better to put your efforts into building the one you have through engaging content that informs, educates or entertains and use networking hours and hashtags effectively.

There are often valid reasons to set up different social media channels. I used to work for the Environment Agency and they have a range of channels, particularly on Twitter. They maintain a national twitter account @EnvAgency as well as regional accounts such as my local one @EnvAgencyMids. The content varies on those channels – the regional accounts carry information only really of interest to local people for example flood warnings. Move to another level and you have well-followed staff such as @TrevorRenalsEA who have an interest in either local or specialised issues; in Trevor’s case it’s invasive plant species. Each account has its own specific audience. Trevor’s detailed look at invasive non-native species is perfect for other specialists in that field, but wouldn’t suit the national account that covers a huge range of subjects and a wide geographical area. Sometimes the national and regional accounts retweet content from individuals and vice versa. During #invasivesweek the content did overlap to broaden the reach of messages about non-native species. The Environment Agency accounts are all captured in this Twitter list if you want to have a look through and see how they do it.


Do you have enough content for an additional channel?

Another important question to ask yourself is – do you have enough content to satisfy a second channel? This is particularly important if you’re struggling with content for the channels that you already have. Do you have enough to sustain it for the future? You need to be able to regularly service all your channels and keep the information fresh and interesting. As technology develops, it’s always tempting to jump into a new channel, without thinking about what you’d use it for.

So in many cases, as I told my son, the answer is unless you’ve got something different to say to different people – ‘build on what you have and do it well’.  He doesn’t have a discrete audience for another account and sometimes struggles to know what to post on his current account. But as he’s 11 and his mum has advised him to do one thing, obviously he’s ignored me and now has two youtube channels!

A check list to work through if you are thinking about a new channel

1 – What is my overall objective, whether it is leads or sales for a business, communicating with the public for a government agency, or engaging supports for a charity – your social media activity should support your work and aims.

2 – How are my current channels performing?  This can help you to decide whether to add new ones, replace one or more of them, or stick with what you’ve got.

3 – Who is my target audience and where do they spend their time? You need to go to where your audience are and communicate with them there, rather than expect them to come and find you.

4 – Do I have enough content to sustain another channel?

5 – Do I have the right sort of content to sustain another channel? If not, do you have the budget or resources to create the right content?

Snapchat advertising is now mainstream – so who is using it?

snapchat mainstream-2

Snapchat advertising is becoming a key part of campaigns. I’ve noticed lenses and filters from a wide range of companies on my account recently, including some that you might not expect to be using Snapchat.

John Lewis Snapchat advertising

Always eagerly awaited, this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert was very well received and generated a huge amount of social media traffic.  As in previous years it was launched on social media in the morning before appearing on television later that day.

For the first time this year, John Lewis also used Snapchat advertising. You could turn yourself into Buster the Boxer with the ad music playing and woodland creatures bouncing around.

I think this really shows the growth and increasing importance of Snapchat advertising over the past year. Hopefully we’ll get to find out a bit more about how popular the lens was and an indication of its value to John Lewis.

Who else uses Snapchat advertising?

Other companies using Snapchat advertising recently include Bacardi and Superdrug, Channel 4 for the new series of Humans,

snapchat lenses

and slightly more unexpectedly the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).

Calculating a precise return on investment for social media is difficult and becoming more so. In the case of Snapchat, and other channels where direct calls to action and clickable links are either non-existent or hard work, we aren’t left with much to evaluate.

Channels and content are overlapping more and more too. A quick scan through the Instagram search results for #BustertheBoxer included many images created in Snapchat.  When I saw the RSC ad, I googled RSC and Intel to find out more about the advert I had seen.  The only way the RSC can measure the impact of the Snapchat ad is if they do no other advertising at the same time.

I love Snapchat and think the advertising potential is only going to grow and grow.  If you haven’t already started using it, why not give it a go.  You can find me as claireturner18 or use my Snapcode (save the image on your phone then choose ‘Add Friends’, ‘Add via Snapcode’ to use this.)

Snapchat-claire

Happy snapping!

Election news bot cuts through the chatter

election news bot

Like many people, I was amazed to wake up to the news that Donald Trump was close to winning the US Presidential election. As the day has gone on the final result is gradually sinking in.  I’m a big fan of Hillary Clinton and wrote my dissertation on her transformation of the role of First Lady, so I was particularly disappointed by the result.

Not least because one of my main sources of US election news the New York Times Facebook Messenger bot, had updated me daily with the chances of Hillary Clinton winning, and not once did it drop below an 86% chance she would be victorious.

FB Messenger bot

However you’ve kept up to date with election news – in print, online, or via new technology – the polls were largely wrong.  I think the model the New York Times has used to reach people is really interesting. Social media has changed the way we consume news, it’s a long time since people favoured one paper, bought a daily copy and read it from cover to cover.  These days we get our news from multiple sources and in a variety of ways.

Twitter was a key channel on election night, with millions of tweets sent as the results came in. But it is becoming increasingly hard for publishers to make their content stand out among all the noise on social media.  The use of Facebook Messenger is one way to overcome this.  By signing up for the New York Times bot, I received daily updates with notifications. Had I liked their Facebook page I would only have seen a fraction of the content I did.

I liked the fact that I only got updates on a particular subject area.  I think we’ll see far more of this type of publishing in future, tailored to our individual interests, and in this way news organisations can reach more of their potential audience.  Sadly it can’t change the election result for this year.

The value of hyperlocal channels during incidents

I’ve been involved in the social media management of incidents many times, mostly flooding on behalf of the Environment Agency but also fires, and a major power cut too.

Yesterday was my first experience from the other side, as a resident and also as one of the admins for social media accounts in my local area.

I woke up to this tweet from Solihull Police

The location is about half a mile away from my house and so I retweeted the information on my own and the @balsallcom Twitter accounts.  I assumed it was a traffic accident and didn’t think too much more about it, until I saw some posts in a closed Facebook group of school mums indicating it was something very different. Shortly after that there were local news reports about the situation that I shared on both Twitter and Facebook. 

The incident was resolved around lunch time, and later in the day I was able to share confirmation that the road was open and the mother and child were no longer on the roof.

Experiencing this as a resident, there were three key things that I think it highlighted:

1. Hyperlocal social media channels are really important to communicate in an incident

They are the best way to engage with those that need to know what is happening.  The road in question is a busy one in and out of Balsall Common; the social media accounts for the village reach large numbers of local people who were then able to make alternative plans for their commute, school run, and other journeys. The Facebook post alerting people to the incident reached nearly 6000 people. From Facebook insights I can see that people reached and engaged this week live largely within a few miles of Balsall Common.

2. Don’t trust the wider media to pass on information correctly

The Daily Mirror got the geographical information horribly wrong. But even ITV Central had the wrong location on their map. Presumably they’d googled Kenilworth Road, Balsall Common and then uploaded the result to their website. Unfortunately they did this without realising the road is a few miles long and the pin was at least half a mile out of place. The true location was off the bottom of the screen shot they’d taken – not helpful for drivers and others needing to navigate around the incident. Also worrying for people living near the pin.

ITV Central map

ITV Central map and news story headline

 

 

3. Organisations need to tell people when an incident is over

From a practical point of view drivers and others need to know whether the road is open or not for their journey home. There was also huge concern for the woman and her child locally. Fellow mums and other residents were anxiously waiting to find out whether the situation had been resolved.  Informally some of us found out from nearby residents but it was a while before we had official confirmation from a trusted source.  Thanks to West Midlands Fire Service for letting us know via Facebook. Solihull Police sent a great initial tweet alerting people to the situation with precise road closure information, but more than 24 hours later that is still the most recent tweet they’ve sent.

A dramatic day and one that I hope isn’t repeated any time soon. Another local resident, summed up the thoughts of us all perfectly.

10 statistics from Facebook Boost your Business

Facebook for Business fbboostI attended a fascinating event today organised by Facebook to help businesses get more out of both Facebook and Instagram. The key messages were make sure your content and your business or organisation is mobile friendly and video is crucial to success – but soon you’ll need think about virtual reality and augmented reality too.

I’ll write up more of what I learned and share ideas you can try, but in the meantime here are 10 quick stats that were shared today.

1. 3 million advertisers use Facebook

2. Yet there is still huge potential, only 10% of all sales go through the internet

3. Smart watches are twice as fast as 1980s computers

4. There are more smart phones in the world than there are people on the planet

5. 63% of UK web browsing is done on a mobile

6. 45% of video views globally are on a mobile device

7. There are 30 million Facebook users in the UK; 93% of them only use it on a mobile

8. 6 of the top 10 apps downloaded worldwide are messaging apps

9. In 2015 more pictures were taken and shared than in the whole of the last 100 years; Instagram users alone share 80 million pictures a day

10. Facebook is very much about friends and family and two way relationships, on Instagram 54% of following is non-reciprocal.

Tips for Twitter networking

Twitter tips Social Media tips

 

We’re lucky in our area to have so many high quality Twitter networking hours. This week I’ll be helping Balsall Business Club members take part in #SolihullHour.

Twitter hours are a fantastic way to network with other local organisations and businesses. They are an hour of the week where you can guarantee other people will be on Twitter, looking at your tweets, and tweeting interesting things for you to read and share. All you have to do is tweet at the allocated time and include the hashtag in every one of your tweets during the hour. Sounds simple but they are often very busy so can be a bit daunting if you haven’t joined in before so here are my top tips to get involved.

1 Watch and Listen

Before you dive in, search Twitter for #solihullhour, see what comes up, who gets involved, which tweets catch your eye and why?

2 Plan
What do you want to say? Can you explain who you are in one tweet? The limit is 140 characters but by the time you’ve added the hashtag, an image and a website link, you’re down to around 75. Can you condense your crucial information to one sentence?

3 Use a laptop or desktop
While you get to grips with Twitter networking it is much easier if you use a computer rather than phone or tablet. A bigger screen makes it easier to follow the action and keep track of who is saying what and how your tweets are being received.

4 Try Tweetdeck
Tweetdeck is a great Twitter tool that allows you to have separate columns for notifications, searches, and anything else you choose. It can be really useful to help you to manage your twitter activity particularly during networking hours. You don’t need anything other than a Twitter account to get started.

Tweet deck screen shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Be social
Social media is supposed to be social, so reply to other tweets, ask questions of your audience, and retweet other people’s messages. If you want other people to help to share your news and information it is polite to share theirs too. You wouldn’t go to an in-person networking event and only talk about yourself – would you?

And finally, always say thank you!

#SolihullHour takes place from 7-8pm every Tuesday evening

Other local Twitter hours to try are:
#Kenbizhour 11-noon on Tuesday mornings
#LeamingtonHour 4-5pm on Wednesday afternoons
#KenilworthHr (note the Hr not Hour at the end) 7-8pm on Thursday evenings
#CovHour 8-9pm on Thursday evenings
#BrumHour 8-9pm on Sunday evenings

Ground control to Major Tim

Like many people, I’ve been fascinated by Tim Peake’s journey into space, and I’ve learnt so much in the last few days.

As a family we have enjoyed researching the space station and life as an astronaut. The things my boys wanted to know were the popular things; two of the top four google search suggestions for ‘how do astro…’ are toilet related!
How do astronauts
Our journey highlights the way many of us now consume news and information. We don’t use one newspaper, website, or TV news programme.  Between us we used a wide range of sites and sources, including traditional books, but more often than not a computer, tablets, TV programmes watched on demand, and social media.

For today’s launch while I was at home I watched BBC News, while I was out and about I relied on Twitter to keep me up to date.  Tonight, when we realised our recording of the BBC special had ended before the big moment when the hatch opened and the astronauts entered the space station, we were saved by a tweet from @space_station with a video clip of history in the making.

Twitter is brilliant for live news and updates. This evening BBC News were using posts from the @space_station account for their live programme. So much easier for NASA than having to issue updates and images to journalists in any other way.

I’d urge Twitter to leave well alone with their ideas for changing news feeds. Live updates like this wouldn’t have worked on Facebook where the posts wouldn’t have gone to everyone and wouldn’t necessarily have been in chronological order. I haven’t had time to explore Twitter’s new moments tab yet but I haven’t seen much to encourage me so far.

 

One of the other things I love about Twitter is the ease with which people can connect. Tim Peake has had good luck messages from a huge variety of tweeters including @duranduran @JamesBlunt and @TheWho. Pre-Twitter it would have been much harder for those people to get in touch and have those conversations.

 

My favourite interaction has to be this one, only on Twitter could Simon Le Bon chat to NASA:

 

One of the key aims of Tim Peake’s mission is to inspire kids to want to become astronauts and so far I can say it has been hugely successful in our house, helped in no small part by some great tweeting. I’m looking forward to @astro_timpeake’s tweets from the Space Station.