So I know some wonderful women running their own businesses, but for some reason they are deeply intimidated by the words: Business. Marketing. Sales. Finance. Money.
I’m in here to tell you that business is a deeply spiritual business!
Money isn’t bad, it’s just a way of performing a transaction. It magnifies who you are, yes. But it’s not bad. If you are worried about money, it’s unlikely to turn you into a monster!
Business isn’t bad either. Please don’t judge those people who have become cynical, money grabbing and cut throat – until you are there, it’s difficult to understand how difficult it can be out there. My last 5 years has been deeply shocking, and it’s taken a lot to keep my heart clear and not just give in to their kind of behaviour.
Marketing is just letting people know you are available.
Sales is just getting to know people and helping them to make the right choice.
Customer service is about you learning to manage your boundaries.
It’s all about personal development!
Have a look at my video below where I talk about my experiences and why business is really spiritual:
One of the things I’ve noticed is that many small businesses or self-employed people don’t make sure that their clients can find them. So here are a list of things you can do, which are really simple:
If you know nothing about facebook, please read this post
Make sure you link your website and facebook page to your about page of your PERSONAL profile
Make sure that the website and facebook page on your personal profile are set to be seen by everyone/public in your privacy settings
Share your business page sporadically (not irritatingly) on your personal profile, so that your friends see what you are doing and can support you.
Make sure your business page has all the most relevant information set up:
About information and story (more than 1 line!)
Include your website if you have one
Shop (if you have products to sell)
Go into your page settings and turn off anything you don’t need e.g. for me community and shop
Link your groups to your facebook page so people can find them easily
Use your name/business name in your facebook groups and name them so it’s obvious what is going on in them
Use offers – they show up in a special place people scroll through
Use events – they also show up in notifications
Add a newsletter subscription if you have one
Once you’ve got the basics set up and you have started to be comfortable, then I recommend finding someone to help. I’m not at the stage where I want to pay someone to do my social media for me, so instead I’ve joined a membership group where Inga Deksne keeps us up to date and encourages us in our strategies. If you are older and really, really befuddled by all this, then Lisa Nichols would be ideal to hold your hand more.
I’m still seeing it constantly – small business owners, struggling to know the basics of Facebook. So here are the things that you MUST know to get started. From here, just take it steady and slow – you can’t learn it all in 5 minutes, just do it bit by bit.
Your profile is your PERSONAL page.
Facebook doesn’t like you having a fake one for your business, as that is a way around it’s rules. You can create a new profile that is more business orientated, but why bother honestly? If you’ve been ‘misbehaving’ on Facebook, stop, because it will affect your business. Nothing on social media is secret! You can change the privacy of each post, but I don’t have time for that.
Some people don’t like to show anything about their business to their friends. Why? Friends aren’t as supportive sometimes as you might like them to be. But if they have a choice of using another company or you, wouldn’t it be better if they use you?
I’m shocked how many business owners haven’t posted anything on their timeline about their business.
But, be discerning – don’t over do it either, otherwise people will get bored and tune out or unfollow you.
Be careful to set your privacy settings. I only share my information with friends, but my profile is public. See the picture below for the location of the privacy settings.
This is your business page. It is where you post stuff about your business and go live. Then you share it to your profile or group if relevant.
You can invite friends to like your page – I do this about once every 6 months.
You can create events on your page – this is helpful if you run courses or do workshops.
Create a pinned post at the top of your page, with your key piece of information or event. For example when I’m running a free course, the information will be pinned there, so that people don’t get confused when seeing lots of other posts about it without the join up info.
Fill in the about information – check contact details, location and description. Include everything you do – otherwise they may never find out.
A group is a community, where you can interact with your clients more. This may or may not be relevant to your business to create. For instance, it might not be useful for a clothes shop, but would be for a coach.
Create a post with the ‘rules’ for how your group will run and pin it, so that it is always displayed at the top of the group. E.g. can other people post about their business?
Add a description about yourself and the group, so that people who join know what it is about – so many people don’t do this and lose community members because of it.
Set the privacy settings – normally to ‘closed’ – so that no one outside can see what is written in there.
Link it to your page.
Do NOT add people into your group without asking them – this really upsets them.
Do NOT tag everyone in the group overtime you post – this really upsets them!
Some people choose particular days or times of the day to interact in their groups and reply to comments, as otherwise it can be overwhelming to reply straight away to loads of comments through out the day.
Read the description. Read the pinned post. Follow the rules.
Interact with others and be helpful before you post your stuff.
Don’t put an ‘F’ or ‘.’ as a comment, so that you can see other peoples comments. Instead click on the 3 dots in the top right hand corner and ‘Turn on notifications for the post’ (see photo above).
Please check the files for information that has been created especially for you – if you are in a group for information, the most likely thing is that FAQ’s have been written up.
When asking a question go to the [search] function first and see if it has already been asked. How much effort do you think someone will put into asking your about the latest lash product for instance, if someone else asked the same 3hrs earlier?
Be polite – say please and thank you.
Don’t read it if you don’t want to.
STEP AWAY – you are being judged on your behaviour in a group, there is no need to argue or convince other people that you are right.
Nothing is ever completely private or safe – don’t post if there would be a problem if someone copied your post and shared it elsewhere. There are nasty people on Facebook who will do that. Don’t be one of those people!
As I’m running a business I’m careful on Facebook. If someone is annoying I ‘unfollow’ them. I hardly ever unfriend or block. I only unfriend when I find people have been basically watching me for a year, but never interacted.
Your timeline is your personal updates on what is going on in facebook land. First come your memories from before, then the page updates from any pages that you set notifications to ‘first’. Then there will be updates from friends. NOT all friends – just the ones you’ve been interacting with recently.
It is possible to get people to like your page and set notifications to first so they always see your posts. But generally other wise you will only reach a certain number of people with your page.
Inevitably you will need to do an advert. The easiest thing is to ‘Boost’ your post. But eventually you will find better results from the ‘Ads Manager’ (see below, and get proper advice on how to do this).
The most important thing is to remember, that just because it’s online doesn’t mean you don’t have to work at creating relationships. Think of your posts on social media as a conversation – are you being boring? Are you only posting about what you want (more clients), or are you also sharing information, being interesting and being helpful with no agenda?
If you are selling a network marketing product, please don’t use the technique of being vague about what you do and not mentioning the company. It is unwise, only attracts people who don’t know what you are doing (so are a bit daft), and makes you look bad. The rest of us do know what you are trying to do!
Hacks & Viruses
It’s unwise to get involved in chain messages or chain Facebook posts – they just fill up timelines with repetition and are like a virus because they take up space.
It’s unlikely the message saying ‘THIS IS TRUE’, or asking you to share and copy to your timeline to warn everyone about something catastrophic is real. Check Snopes.com for updates on hoaxes.
Don’t click on links from people you don’t know.
Don’t add a Facebook friend again when you are already friends with them – it’s likely not them.
The cute girl/soldier who just added you, who has no mutual friends to you, is likely not a real person.
To Learn More
Things change constantly in Facebook land and always will. We never like their updates, and it can be a pain to keep up, but they like to keep improving. They are a business, it is not bad that they need to make money.
I recommend Inge Deksne – she has a great membership program where you pay monthly. She supports you to get onto social media more, especially Facebook, and runs online ‘cafe’s’ where you can ask questions. She can do all the research for you and keep up to date – there is a lot to it, and she will save you time, effort and tears.
I can’t pronounce the word, but I’m passionate about creating reciprocal relationships. Together we are so much stronger.
Watch my video below and let me know what you think – do you have businesses who support yours, or do you find that many will take the help that you give and then give nothing back in return?
There are some easy tips as well:
Like their page.
Set notifications to first so that you don’t miss anything.
When they do a Facebook live, click the button to be notified when they go live, so you don’t miss anything.
When relevant share to your clients or friends – it can be really helpful for their stats and for your clients, and is more interesting than constant promotional posts.
Don’t discount, add value and combine services with another business
For any small business looking for social media support and advice, with an intuitive edge, then check out Inga Deksne on Facebook. I’m part of one of her subscription groups, and it’s really helpful to keep me up to date and kick me into action!
I would love to support other businesses ‘with a heart’ by highlighting you on this blog, but there are a couple of criteria (please don’t take this as judgment!).
Now don’t worry if you aren’t there yet, so many business owners are doing well, but still have some barriers to break through – come and join me in my ‘Business With A Heart‘ Facebook group and maybe we can support you to finish off the ones still to be done (I’m still working on them too)!
Are you paid more than your employees and fairly considering the hours you work?
Do you get some time off from your business and take holidays?
Are you working reasonable hours, so that there is also a balance of rest, relaxation, social life, fitness, family life and relationships etc?
Can you afford to take care of your health?
Are you creating a pension and future security?
Does your company have a good reputation?
Does it mean you are financially independent – so you can pay for all your bills?
Can you provide for you portion of your family’s needs?
Are your full time employees paid as such e.g. NI and holidays?
Is your business based upon your own unique idea or USP?
Are you trying your best (it’s difficult I know) to consider your environmental impact?
Do you believe there is enough space for all businesses, so you don’t need to target other businesses, or take clients from them?
Have you managed to keep your heart and joy in the business, without succumbing to cyniscm (realism is fine!).
Do you pay your taxes?
Now of course, there is some of my own bias in here, and I might adapt these criteria as I go along. I’m basically thinking that success at the price of your health, your heart, your employees, other businesses, or orang-utans, is not success in my way of thinking. Big global corporations that don’t pay their taxes, wouldn’t pass my criteria (although I would never suggest paying more than you need to of course).
Business with a heart – is it really viable, or is it some daft spiritual nonsense? That’s going to be my journey and investigation over the coming months. It’s going to be ‘interesting’ and hopefully it will be inspirational and give us all hope!
Here is my first Facebook live video, talking through why I’m so passionate about it:
I’m not ignoring the fact that a business does need to:
Make profit – it’s not a dirty word, it’s what gives it stability and means there can be reinvestment
Market itself – i.e. let the world know it is there
Sell to clients – i.e. learn what the clients need and how the business can help them
Watch cash flow – numbers are important, as cash is what makes a business succeed or fail.
Make decision based on business needs – I remember being told that as owners we ‘work for the business’ and never to forget that we owe the business the right decisions.
‘Success’ is a funny old thing and can be measured in many ways. But I like to think of us proving that a Business with a heart can still provide:
A fair income (so many business owners earn less than their employees)
‘Healthy wealth’ – where you earn enough to be able to look after your health, house and family
Provide for your family – there is that saying about when you visit a small business you are paying for a little girl to learn to play the piano – and it is so true (but dance in my case, and both children!).
But I’m hopeful I can prove that long term profit and a more secure future can be made without:
Being cut throat or vicious
Lying, stealing or manipulating
Trying to damage someone else business or target them
Treating staff badly
Losing your morals or ethics
Losing your soul and becoming cynical and bad tempered
Do you have a story about your business that I can post? I would love to – to support you and also to give hope to other struggling businesses. Get in touch via my Facebook page.
I think that bloggers are the perfect match for small to medium sized businesses to help them get their names out into the world. The big brands are already using us. But there is a lot to be said for focussing on smaller, niche or local businesses instead. So here are my tips on how to go about it if you are a business:
1) What’s the point?
Have you heard that someone needs to hear about your product/service 27 times before they sign up? That’s a lot of times!
Bloggers can help with PR (Public Relations e.g. reviews), SEO (Search Engine Optimisation i.e. being found), Marketing (getting the word out there) and Social Media (twitter, Facebook etc). Some can even write sales copy for you. Plus they can be a very inexpensive and direct way of being seen by your customers versus adverts which are more of a splatter gun approach.
I have a ‘spiritual’ perspective on marketing. It’s less about selling or pushing your business and more about making sure that the people who want to, can find you. If you don’t put your hands up in the air and say ‘here I am‘, then they can’t find you!
2) Some technical points
There are rules about how we can help (some people will break the rules for enough money):
1) We have to disclose that we got money or a freebie in return for our post – it’s illegal not to. (I would not recommend working with someone willing to break this rule for moral reasons, but I’m not fussy about how it is disclosed, officially it should use the word ‘sponsored’).
2) Google doesn’t like people paying for ‘follow’ links because they have adverts for that! A follow link is where google reads the blog post, sees a link and follows it to where it goes to, thereby marking the link as showing an important site. Bloggers who take paid for follow links will want extra money because google can strip them (and you) of their page rank (how findable they are on google). It’s not illegal though. But I wouldn’t advise it. The alternative is a no-follow link.
3) Money, money, money
Remember, if we work for you, we are taking time out from doing other to do’s or being with our kids. But we do understand that budgets can be limited, especially if you are a small business or charity (we are less forgiving for a big company paying a PR team to contact us!).
There are three reasons we will help:
1) We need the money – for this one you will have to pay for our time and expenses fairly.
2) For treats for the kids we couldn’t afford otherwise – it’s lovely in this day and age to be able to do this (holiday offers always welcome *grin*).
3) For something we are passionate about – mine is festivals, being outside, books and music.
How much would we expect?
I charge £100 for a post with a link. £50 for a competition because the admin is tiresome, despite the fact that I get to give something away. I might charge for a review if it is a very cheap product. However, nowadays I do hardly any of these kinds of posts because I don’t enjoy them. I also do free posts, but I limit how many purely because of time constraints.
If I’m busy, but like your stuff I’ll ask you to send me a tweet and I’ll RT it for you (please don’t email it to me; use twitter). I do this for free, for things I like. Other people charge £5 per time.
Some bloggers will do follow links (see technical points) for £200. There are also bloggers would will write you a quick post for £20.
4) SEO – being found
Because of the follow/no-follow rule, a blogger might not be able to help you out too much with follow links which helps you be found on Google (unless they end up loving you so much that they write something for free), but they can write a good post, with great keywords that points to you.
They can also help with the practicalities like setting up your facebook page. For some businesses twitter is also great as many of your customers would expect to be able to use it to get hold of you. Google+ might not be a very active place right now, apart from for bloggers; but being there will help with ‘being found’.
If your business is visual, pretty or product based, then they can help you get started on Instagram or Pinterest.
They will also know tips for you to start up your own blog (posts of once or twice a month are probably sufficient) and the key words (found using google analytics) that will help drive people to your site. A blog is a great way to put a personality behind your business – just a great product isn’t enough when you need to create loyalty.
Some bloggers run consultancies where they help companies like yours by running their social media and blogging for them. It’s a great option.
It’s a great idea to get a blogger to review your service/product as it can be much more indepth than on Amazon or something like that.
But remember, they will be HONEST! So make sure they are a good match and your product is good.
If your product is cheap and you can’t afford to pay anything additional, you might suggest that the blogger include it in a post with other products e.g. if you are selling candles, they could be included in a post about ‘presents for mothering sunday’.
If you would like them to come and visit your location, then they may need expenses too. In the early days there were many times that a blogging event cost me a LOT more in time and money than I received from it. I don’t charge for travel to a festival, but I would to review a film in London (plus ask for the DVD – been there on that expense 6 months later!).
Make sure that you keep a record of the reviews. You can tweet them out every now and again for your customers to read and add them to your website.
As well as reviewing your product (or instead of), you could give them one to give away in a competition. Competitions are particularly useful in increasing your followers on twitter and facebook, as you can have following as an additional entry option to the competition.
Please note however that competitions and writing a post do take time and administration, so unless it is a product that will really increase the bloggers views, they will probably want to charge you an admin fee.
Be thoughtful about how you want the competition advertised. There are sites that we can put the competition on in order to increase the hits. But this means that ‘professional compers’ are likely to enter, who might not be interested in your product at all.
7) How to find them
You can contact companies that provide an intermediary service e.g. Tots100, Britmums and Best British Bloggers. I do not know what the charges are. You can also look through the Tots100 and Ebuzzing lists, but bear in mind that not everyone places themselves in the lists. The Britmums roundups will give you blogs with specific interests.
Or you can do some research using key words that help: e.g. mummy blogger St Albans, Top uk mummy bloggers, mummy blogger weight loss, mummy blogger crafting, mummy blogger style
Or you can go into twitter and search on key words e.g. St Albans, vintage, candles, festivals etc
Once you have one blogger, they might be able to get you a list of other bloggers for you to check out. This can be a BIG hassle though (bloggers can be difficult to organise) – I’ve done it before and probably wouldn’t do it for free again, apart from for someone I loved a LOT! I now tend to offer to put your email address in a specific facebook group instead, and let you deal with the impending chaos ;o)
8) How to make contact
Bloggers tend to love twitter (about 99%). So find your blogs, follow them on twitter, and add them to a specific column or list so that their updates don’t disappear into a huge pile of updates.
DO NOT send them a twitter message saying ‘Hi, I’m local, please tweet out my page’ – you are a stranger to them, it would be like walking up to someone you don’t know in the street and asking them to hand your business card out. Basically you would look like a weirdo (I unfollow people who do this immediately).
Relationships online take time – use some discernment. Don’t follow people just because they are popular. Follow people because you are actually interested in them and give the relationship some time to brew.
Then when they say something that is interesting, reply to it. If they write a good blog post retweet it for them (subscribing to their blog would be a good idea). Start to chat regularly. Then when it feels right you can mention that you have a product/service and would they like to chat about working with you. It’s quite possible that if you are up their street, they will mention it before you even get there – I have done for festivals I fancied. Try not to be sycophantic or to jump to offer your services without first establishing a need.
Alternatively, once you have a list of bloggers, then you can send them an email. Always approach them using their name in the ‘hello’ of your email – I don’t reply to anything without my name in it. I would recommend sending a separate email to each blogger with a sentence or two that shows you have read some of their blog. If you send a blanket mail, use BCC (blind copy) for the email addresses, but I warn you, it’s less likely to be popular.
Remember, however wonderful you are or your product is, these bloggers are busy mums and may get several PR pitches a day. They don’t read their email every day. They need time to plan things. They can’t do 100 reviews all at once. They are less available during holidays and the week before and after them. They also talk, so if you send out a second round of invites due to little interest in the first round, they are likely to know they were your second choice!
9) Picking Bloggers
Make sure that you read their about page and check the ages of their kids and their suitability. Is it likely that their readership would suit your business? For example, I do NOT blog about parenting, just about being a mum. So I don’t want posts about baby food or pushchairs on my site and my kids are too old any way.
You could pick LOTS of less popular blogs and get a bigger coverage. Or pick a handful of blogs that are more popular.
Make sure that you have spent time reading the reviews that they have already done. Do they just whack them out, or do they put an interesting spin on it? Do they use photo’s, maybe even videos?
Have they reviewed similar things? That might be good or bad news, depending on your subject! For example, loads of positive reviews on push chairs, might not make them sound reliable. But lots of interesting reviews about holidays or adventurous things to do as a family might make them be considered a bit of an expert on the subject.
This takes time, but otherwise you are wasting your money and resources.
10) What to expect
Ask them how long the post is likely to be, and how they will ‘pimp’ it out for you. You are looking for 500 words or more with photos. Videos are great for reviews, especially by kids.
I tweet 3 times at different times of the day over a couple of days. I send to my facebook profile, page and google once. But for some posts they will be marked with tags e.g. summer or festivals, which means that I will probably reuse them during quiet periods. Also some of my posts are listed on pages too. Probably not product reviews, but a couple of the holidays have been so good that I included them in my ‘Adventure’ page.
Some bloggers ‘hide’ their reviews somewhere other than the home page – make sure that they aren’t doing that for you. They can also ‘hide’ them by publishing them over a weekend if that is their quiet time. Watch out for this.
Ask how many reviews or competitions they will be running. Unless that is what the site is all about, you don’t want to be hidden away under a huge pile of them.
Afterwards you can ask for how many ‘hits’ the post received. If it is a good post, it should also get hits/reads all throughout the year and beyond. Your webstats will be able to show you when someone comes to your site via the blog (of course, this misses people who come to your site because of the blog, rather than via it).
Stats don’t mean everything, for example, they don’t show you how trusted a blogger is; but they can be helpful.
I would ask for
followers on their online communities e.g. twitter, Facebook etc
monthly unique views (i.e. how many people, not how many pages they view)
awards or inclusion in Britmums roundups or Tots100 faves
rankings in lists
page rank (how important google thinks they are – probably from 0-5)
If they have youtube – what are their visitor stats
Keep working with a small number of bloggers where possible – stop flitting from one to another. It might add breadth, but no loyalty and as you are likely to have less budget, what you want to create is loyalty.
We don’t need guest posts written by your PR people. We are bloggers. We write. We probably have loads of draft posts that we haven’t managed to write yet! So don’t get fooled into offering us ‘free content’ as though we should be glad to get it.
Mummy bloggers are flakey. We over promise. Our kids get sick. We get sick. So you probably want a few more than you would think for your campaign, and expect to have a couple fall by the wayside.
We aren’t interested in press releases. We might be interested in your newsletter with news about what is going on though.
I think that by far the most successful use of bloggers I have seen is in long term relationships with a campaign.
You will need a proper project plan for the campaign for this, which means that you can then fit it in around important dates in your diary as well. Create a hashtag for the campaign e.g. #WeLoveForests #DoSomethingYummy so that everyone involved can keep track of related posts and RT them.
Be careful and check what other campaigns are running at the same time, especially if you are a charity. There can be ‘charity overload’ especially at the beginning of the year.
If you have a number of bloggers involved, you will need to create a calendar and plan ahead when everyone does their posts. Personally I prefer them all spread out than all at once.
Nickie from ‘I am Typecast’ ran a campaign for Clic for a month and was brilliantly orchestrated. It had a huge sense of community and really got them noticed.
I’m an ambassador for the Forestry Commission. I thought I was just writing a blog post reviewing the local forest in review for a membership card. But it has been a lot more than that and I’ve actually really enjoyed it. We have a hash tag, facebook group to create a community amongst the bloggers, and pinterest board. I may not have made lots of money from this campaign, but it has actually helped increase my own interest in forests and I now have a big passion for the whole thing.
In comparison I’ve reviewed some clothes for Joe Browns which I love. But they don’t connect the bloggers they work with, so there is no way that we could create a community and RT other posts. They are just going for more of a scattergun approach with reviews on lots of blogs.
Some companies create blogging competitions, where we have to write a blog post in order to potentially win the competition. Personally I hate these, but I can see that they are worth it if the prize is good enough.
It might be worthwhile to look into advertising on a blog if what you are looking for is a regular reminder of your shop or product. But it can be an expensive option, so it really depends on your product/service, budget and who is available.
There would be times when it would be useful for the readers to have a link to your site e.g. an advert for your kitchen utensil business on a local bloggers side bar, or for a kids craft boxes business on a craft blog.
An advert costs about £10 per page rank, per month. You are most likely looking at a blog of Page Rank 3, so that is £30pm. You will need to pay 3 months in advance, but you could get a discount for a long term blog. It’s not bad value when you look at an advert in a magazine etc. Definitely better value than a facebook advert, but you could still do with a Google Ad for your key words.
I’m not really convinced by affiliate programs. I think that it only works if they have also done a review and there is a clear match with their blog, especially as it puts the bloggers opinion slightly under question as it could be influenced by earning money.
Also they probably need to be getting a mammoth amount of hits per day for it to be worth it for the blogger. This would be ideal for a craft blogger – one of the big ones gets thousands of views a day. I was once an affiliate for a membership site, where I got 50% of the join up fee – this worked really well for me and the client (it was before my blog), I think that the lesson there is to be generous with your affiliate %.
At the end of the day
Remember to use discernment. Don’t jump on a band wagon on how to behave if it doesn’t suit you or your company or feels dodgy.
There are no quick options, but bloggers make a great long term option for any business that has ‘people’ as it’s customers, and I think that they can be much more useful to you than adverts.