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Social media in the age of social distancing

social media social distancing

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It’s been a while since my last blog, like many small business owners, I’ve been juggling the difficulties of lockdown, balancing homeschooling and work, a gradual return to some sort of normality, a lovely holiday last week, and now a new lockdown.

For my clients and many other businesses, it’s been a real mixed picture over the last few months. Some are busier than ever because they are able to carry on with their work whatever the level of restrictions are. For others though, much of what they do is dependent on people being able to get out and interact with them.  Those businesses may wonder what to post on social media and if it’s worth bothering at the moment.

My advice is that it is definitely worth the effort. While many of us are confined to our homes and certainly going out less than we’re used to, we’re spending more time on social media than ever before . Businesses that do a good job of keeping in touch, offering advice and support, and generally reminding us they are there – should be in a good position as customers can return.

Build loyalty now even if you can’t turn that into sales just yet.

Here are five things you could post about:

1. Your services

What services can you offer while people are at home? Can they contact you for advice or ask to be added to a waiting list for when we do have more freedom? Do you offer gift vouchers that people could buy as presents?

2. Advice

Are there any tips and advice you can offer that relate to your area of work?

3. Questions

Ask for feedback. Use your social media channels to gauge opinions on what customers and potential customers would be interested in. Make changes if you have the time.

4. Your story

One of the reasons people support local businesses is because they are dealing with real people. Let your customers know your story. Why did you start your business and how did it get to the point its at now?

5. Outside of work

What are you up to outside of business?  As far as you are comfortable, tell people a bit about how you have adjusted to the current circumstances and some of the things you have been doing away from your business. 

 

And here are three ways you can support local businesses via social media:

1 Share

Facebook and Google both offer you the chance to share reviews of businesses that you’ve used in the past. Take the time to write one for a local business you’ve been a customer of. Or why not take a photo of something you’ve bought, share it on social media, and tag the business in your post. It’s guaranteed to make them smile!

2 Engage

Did you know that the more interaction a social media post gets, the more people get to see it?  Simply liking or commenting on a social media post from a local business gives it a boost and means more people are aware of what the business does.

3 Recommend

Facebook groups and other online chats are full of people asking for recommendations. Spend a few minutes suggesting the names of local businesses that you know and trust – it makes a real difference to them

I’m based in Balsall Common and many of our local businesses use #BalsallBusiness on social media, in nearby Knowle #VisitKnowle is popular. Why not search for these hashtags and support local businesses or search for the equivalent in your local area

Thinking of small business owners everywhere as they navigate yet more difficult times.

Volunteering – good for you and your community

volunteering

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I was delighted to receive this card from Marie Curie as a thank you during Volunteers Week. I  love the work that I do to help them communicate their local fundraising activities through social media, particularly our local Facebook page. Along with the Balsall Common and Berkswell Marie Curie group I also help Balsall Common Lions Club, Berkswell Cricket Club, Balsall Hornets, and also our local community website balsallcom.com and the linked social media channels.

marie curie card joint

So why do I do it? It definitely isn’t because I’ve got oodles of free time! I help Marie Curie because they looked after my mum when she was very ill. I help the Lions Club because my Dad’s been a member for over 30 years and they’ve been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. 

It is incredibly rewarding and using social media at local and community level can have fantastic results. I love sharing my knowledge, helping local clubs and groups to develop their own skills and see the results. We publicise Marie Curie events largely through social media but also use a local magazine, posters and other methods. It generates bookings for fundraising fairs, volunteers to help out with collections, and participants for our annual Weekend Wind Down walk.

Balsall Common Lions Club have noticed an increase in visitors to their annual bonfire since promoting it on Facebook  and I’m particularly pleased that some Lions I’ve trained up have really made the Facebook account their own, particularly at Christmas when they send messages from Santa letting people know about his local sleigh route around the village – great for raising awareness and helping their fundraising efforts.

 

social media training session

 

I also helped our local cricket club create a keen cohort of young players in their successful All Stars programme.

From a professional point of view, I recommend volunteering to anyone who wants to hone their skills and try out new things. I first got involved with balsallcom.com when I was on maternity leave and keen to maintain my web updating and social media skills while I was off work.

For anyone working in large organisation your skills will be really valued by local community groups and it’s also an opportunity to test out some of the things that aren’t always possible in a big organisation.

So why not look at starting a volunteering opportunity? I’m sure there’s a local group in your area that could benefit from your time and skills.

For anyone living in the Balsall Common area please get in touch and I can match you up to a fantastic local organisation that would benefit from your support. Equally, if you’re a local charity or group looking for a bit of help with your social media I run one-off sessions, usually in Balsall Common, to offer training and upskilling. Get in touch for more details.

Wow! Signal Communications is sponsoring the Gin Bar at the Balsall Beerfest, organised by two local groups I help – Balsall Common Lions and Balsall Hornets. It’s on Saturday 29th June so you can catch me there.

 

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.

How safe are your photos on social media sites?

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The story in the Daily Mirror recently sounded very scary. People accessing photos of children from social media sites and printing them on mugs. However they were able to do that because of the way the photos had been put on the internet (the point the company behind the story were trying to make).  The photos were downloaded from Flickr, an online photo album site; they were not taken from Facebook.

Social media is widely used and can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family around the world. With those possibilities does come some risk but careful use of privacy settings and understanding how they work makes a huge difference to who sees your updates and photos, and greatly reduces the potential for anyone to misuse them.

Flickr

When anyone uploads a photo to Flickr there are a choice of options to set out what other people can do with that photo.

Flickr license options

Flickr license options

The default setting is ‘all rights reserved’, which means other people can not use your photo in anyway.  You have to actively choose an alternative setting to enable people to download and use your photo.

If you do use Flickr you can also choose who can see the photo: only you, friends, family, or everyone.  The photos that were part of the story that appeared in the Daily Mirror came from Flickr. The people who had uploaded them had also changed their settings to allow others to use them.

 

Facebook

When you put photos on Facebook you can control who sees them. Each time you write a new post or share photos you can choose the audience it goes to by using the little arrow at the end of the box that says ‘Friends’.

Facebook post options

Facebook post options

Facebook has a vast array of privacy settings, they do change from time to time so it is always good practice to go through and check your settings.  If you go to  www.facebook.com/settings you can look through them all and update any you need to. You can change who can see posts you’ve made in the past as well.

More advice and guidance

The NSPCC are running a campaign at the moment called Share Aware.  They have produced useful guides to lots of social media and game sites and advise on privacy settings and controls.

 

7 things you didn’t know about me

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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 American Studies which doesn’t really qualify me for anything much! But it enabled me to have the best year of my life, spent in the US, studying at the University of Maryland, and I met my husband James there.

2. I’ve been on TV a few times, once on Blockbusters and on 10 episodes of Countdown, including on Christmas Day 2001! Despite this being 14 years ago, there is a clip of one of the shows on Youtube!

3. I always wanted to work in Local Government, as my Nan and Grandad were councillors in Sandwell. My Nan was Mayoress in 1977 when the Queen visited.
(I didn’t actually understand the difference between councillors and officers until after I got my first job at High Peak Borough Council!)

When I got my job working in Digital Communications at the Environment Agency I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to combine my love of social media with getting paid for it! That love was tested a little bit during one of the wettest years on record, and regular evening and weekend working. But it was a fantastic opportunity to show the power of social media and it’s impact and effectiveness in emergency situations.

4. I’ve run four half marathons and am doingSheffield Half Marathon a Wolf Run in April!

5. I speak some French and surprised myself with how much I remembered when my youngest son got chicken pox while we were on holiday there last summer!

6. Working for myself has been an amazing revelation, the freedom and flexibility are wonderful, I’m lucky to have some great clients. I have more money left over every month (earnings vs childcare) than if I was doing any other job, and I get to do the school run most days.

7. If Wow! Signal Communications were a book it would be dedicated to my late mum, the brightest, strongest, most loving person, who I’ve missed every day for the last two years. But I know somewhere she’s supporting me every step of the way.

me and mum

Who sees your tweets?

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It’s a funny one to get the hang of until someone shows you, but important to remember that if you put an @ at the start of any tweet you are limiting who sees that tweet.

To make it easy to understand we’ll use two accounts @clairet18 and @jamesturner1912 (which just happen to be me and my husband)!.

So this tweet, with Hi at the beginning, will show up in the timelines of everyone who follows me. James will also get a notification to say that I have mentioned him.

 

If I tweet it with the @ at the beginning James will still get a notification but the tweet will only appear in the timelines of people who follow both of our accounts.  

The tweets are also visible to anyone on Twitter whether they follow us or not, if people go and look for them.  The first one would show up if people look at all my tweets.

tweets

To see the second one, they need to look at my tweets and replies.

tweets and replies

So if you are naming another account in your tweet but you do want all of your followers to see something make sure there is a . or something else at the very beginning of your tweet.

Some tweets not appearing to all of your followers can be really useful. For example if you don’t want to bombard people who follow you with conversations you just want to have between one or two people, or you are a company using Twitter for customer service. It means followers of the @londonmidland account will see their updates and information,

but not every tweet they send in response to customer questions, comments and complaints.

If you’re keen to know what the overlap between two accounts is, you can use followerwonk. James and I have an overlap of 46 followers!

Followerwonk

Also remember if you do want to keep your conversation completely private, use Direct Messages – here’s mine explaining to James, that I was about to use his account to create the examples above.  Only he and I had access to that conversation, until I screen capped it, nothing is ever truly private on social media! Happy tweeting!

DM

Good tweets make good news

Photo tweeted by Chris Hoy

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 all well wishers.

Scotsman story part 1

Scotsman story part 2

Interestingly, the story was entirely written from tweets sent by Chris and his wife Sarra, with the photo also coming from Chris’s Twitter account.

Chris Hoy tweets Sarra Hoy tweet

Nothing controversial and I’m sure the Hoys were really pleased it was covered and included all the things they wanted to say. It is a nice example of how providing good content on social media can generate a much wider audience for your news. Making it easy for time-poor journalists with pages to fill is a good way to get your news shared.

The Scotsman probably keep a very close eye on Chris Hoy’s Twitter account but you can always name check news outlets or journalists in your tweets to draw attention to a story you’d like covering.

This was essentially a press release split into three tweets.

Don’t forget this can also work the other way and journalists can just as easily take bad news, critical tweets, and controversial comments from accounts of staff or members of the public and do exactly the same thing.

So make sure you are monitoring and engaging in comments about your organisation, tweeting about the good stuff and responding to anything that needs an answer; you could not only reach thousands or even millions of tweeters but newspaper readers too.

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.

Trevor Francis courtesy of Birmingham Mail

Trevor Francis courtesy of Birmingham Mail

My love for Blues started early, had my dad had his way, I would have been named Trevina Francesca in honour of the hat trick he scored on the day I was born!
 

Times have moved on a bit since then, Chelsea spent more than £16million on agents fees last year. This season social media is more important than ever for football clubs to engage with their fans.

Birmingham City may not be able to match the all singing all dancing second screen TV match day app of Manchester City. But their understanding of great social media means they have top flight accounts. They get the balance of content, tone, and integration into their overall communications. The figures are impressive 200 000 Facebook likes and 80000 Twitter followers but more importantly they way they use the channels, their interaction with fans, and their approach are key.

So what can we learn from how they do it?

Different channels work better for different things, BCFC’s Facebook page is a place for fans to chat to each other, feedback to the club, share tips on away grounds, and something all fans love reminisce about the good old days! The club does post updates on match days but thanks to Facebook’s newsfeed not appearing in time order, it doesn’t always make sense, by Saturday night it can be that a popular pre-match post will appear above one with the final score on!

Twitter works perfectly for match updates and the club do minute by minute updates so fans around the world can follow the action in real time. The club are very adept at using hashtags, regular ones include #bcfc, #keeprighton (the club’s song), #bcfclive and #bcfcawaydays. They also create them for special events, for example the new manager Gary Rowett #rowettreturns, and with success; #TFday has reached 3/4 million accounts at the time of writing. They use hashtags already popular on Twitter to increase their reach; #throwbackThursday and #FlashbackFriday are perfect for reviving memories of past glories. The club also took part in #bidtoremember.

Many of the players have Twitter accounts, the club retweet their post match thoughts as they tweet them, giving fans a chance to interact directly with their heroes. Several staff at the club have accounts too including the head of retail @wayen_cowen, allowing the club to promote special offers, @BCFCticketlady who provides social media customer service, and until recently @_andywalker_ who has been responsible for much of the club’s social media success. He has now moved on to the FA. These personal touches really help fans to feel involved in their club and connected to what is going on.

Like all football clubs, Birmingham City are lucky to have great content for their youtube channel particularly player interviews and match highlights. They package them really nicely and promote them via Facebook and Twitter.

Steven Knight and Gary Rowett

Steven Knight and Gary Rowett

The club aren’t afraid to use the same content in different places where appropriate. This very popular photo of manager Gary Rowett with Peaky Blinders writer Steve Knight was both tweeted and used in the programme.

Tweets are used to create an article in each programme. The club also do a weekly news story on their website of the top 5 most popular social media posts on each channel.

As I found working at the Environment Agency, when there are issues and they receive a lot of negative press coverage, the reaction on social media is usually less negative and more supportive. Even after an 8-0 drubbing fans bounced back and really rallied round as rumours grew that Gary Rowett was to be the new manager.

Last year Birmingham City came top of the Championship teams in the Sport Social Media Index. If only they could have a few league points for the quality of their social media!

Claire Turner
@clairet18 (aka Trevina Francesca!)

I’m dreaming of a West Jet Christmas

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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 flash mob video, it has now reached 1.5million views and was well received, and I’m sure they were pretty pleased with how it went.

Last year they went so far and above that I’m not sure how they will follow it. They produced one of the best videos I’ve ever seen.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIEIvi2MuEk&w=560&h=315]

Passengers waiting to board West Jet flights tell Santa, via a video link, what they want for Christmas. While they are en route over 150 West-Jetters (West Jet staff), volunteering their own time, source and wrap the requested presents. When the passengers reach their destination, out come the presents on the luggage carousel, including a “big tv”. The man who said he needed new socks and underwear was particularly disappointed when he realised what was happening!

West Jet got this so right, the idea is brilliant and the execution is perfect to create a truly heart warming video that is a fantastic advert for their company.  They said they would donate flights to a needy family if they got 200,000 views. They managed that in a few hours. Within two days two million people had seen the video. After a week, 13 million people in over 200 countries had viewed it. To date over 36million people have watched it. The bloopers video has had more views than the 2012 flash mob video had in total.

West Jet is a company that prides itself on treating staff and customers well, and this epitomises that. It shows them listening to their customers, getting to know them, providing exactly what they want, delivered by staff who are prepared to give up their time to keep customers happy. For them it’s a gift that keeps on giving, costing a fraction of a traditional TV ad, generating millions in positive press coverage, and no doubt encouraging many people to fly with them this year just in case in happens again.

The only headache for the West Jet communications team is how they can possibly top it this year? I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

By Claire Turner

@clairet18

 

Twitter tips – don’t just save them for a rainy day

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This week’s rain reminded me of one of the days (one of the many, many days) spent in incident mode at the Environment Agency. During one of the wettest years on record, rain didn’t just mean an unpleasant journey to work or being stuck inside; the question ‘what are you doing at the weekend?’ was really a polite way of asking which shift you wanted to be put down for!

The pdf below shows a day in the life of the @envagencymids Twitter account during full-on flooding, with my training notes attached. After several months of weekend shifts, we were desperately trying to maximise the number of people we could call on to help manage our social media accounts. This document formed part of the training.

The day in question, 25 November, saw a peak of 156 flood warnings in place, problems with a new flood defence at Kempsey, and despite being a Sunday was an incredibly busy working day.

My top tips for managing twitter during an incident based on just a little bit of practice are:

Start early with a clear summary of the latest situation – @envagencymids most popular tweets were sent around 6am, they were then widely shared by the twitter accounts of local, regional and national news as well as many individuals.

Create lists of official partner accounts so that anyone managing your accounts can easily see who to retweet and name check – when you look after an account regularly you get to know that @wmerciapolice cover Herefordshire but you don’t want to be trying to find that out in an emergency situation.

Don’t be afraid to publicly ask for retweets from partners, since the riots in 2011, police forces tend to have by far the most followers of public sector organisations in an area, and as long as it’s relevant they will happily share your messages.

Don’t be afraid to repeat key messages, people don’t mind a regular prompt to check their flood risk, and a link to how to prepare. If you manage an account you will be looking at twitter all day, most ‘normal’ people don’t, so will miss a percentage of what you put out. They might be seeing that key message for the first time, even if it’s the third time you’ve mentioned it that day.

Try to reply to all tweets even if it’s just to acknowledge them, people like to know there is a human being behind the account they can interact with, particularly if they are worried about their own home or area.

Sign off at the end of the day (whatever time that may be). @envagencymids had some really nice responses to bed time tweets, lots of thanks and compliments, and also stopped worries about people expecting responses in the middle of the night. @Londonmidland never fail to do this as well.

Now , where’s my umbrella…

A day in the life of @envagencymids

By Claire Turner @clairet18