On Being Social

This past year I joined Toastmasters and it's been an amazing experience. I never expected to love it as much as I do. Last night I gave my third speech and because the topic was social media I thought I would share it with you here.

Keep in mind that it is written as a speech, so just imagine you are in a room listening to me give it as you read it :)

Social media and technology get a bad rap.

“It’s a waste of time”

“People don’t have real conversations any more”

“In my day this…."   

"In my day that…”

Have you ever heard any of those things? Have you ever SAID any of those things?

Today, fellow Toastmasters, I’m going to talk to you about why social media is more than just taking Buzzfeed quizzes and sharing pictures of your lunch. It can actually be incredibly connecting and instead of people no longer being social and forming “genuine” relationships, they’re actually just doing what we’ve always done in a new and often more effective way. After this speech I hope you will have a new appreciation for all the amazing opportunities to find friendships and community online.

Let me start with a story. As I’m sure many of you in this room know, becoming a mother can be really lonely. You’re never alone… but you’re always alone.

Depending on your baby…. or babies…. You may feel like it’s really difficult to leave the house, or maybe you’re just too tired to leave the house after being up all night with a baby…. or babies…

When I was pregnant with my twins I discovered the beauty of Twitter. When I was at home stuck under a baby… (or babies…) I could still find someone to talk to.

I could find someone to talk to in the middle of the day when everyone else I knew was at work, and I could find someone to talk to in the middle of the night when everyone else I knew was asleep. Did you know there is actually a hashtag for moms who are looking to find other moms who are tired and sleep deprived and looking for someone to talk to? #zombiemoms

Not only do new moms have a place to go to escape the loneliness of new motherhood, they have a place to go to to ask questions when they’re nervous or insecure, to share funny stories with people who will understand what they’re going through, and complain to people they know have been there too.

While this is an example of being a new mom, the examples of people who are otherwise isolated who can find a community are endless. People who feel too bullied to leave home, people who are sick and can’t get out of the house, people who just have a hard time in social situations.

Social media helps people who feel isolated find community.

What about those who aren’t isolated by situation, but by discomfort? I’m sure you’ve all seen people who are on their mobile devices at parties or at a restaurant.

I’m in no way suggesting that that’s a great thing to do, but I do want you to consider that a lot of the people who are doing that are doing it as a crutch. They’re uncomfortable in social situations and for lack of knowing what to say or how to interact. They’re using their technology to escape. They would have been the same people reading a book in the corner during a Christmas party or hiding in the basement watching TV 20 or 30 years ago.

Access to technology and social media provide safe places for people who are uncomfortable in big groups to still have social interactions. 

There are articles that I see going round fairly frequently that intrigue me. They’re all called something along the lines of Why is it so hard to make friends after 30?

It's harder to make friends once you’ve left school, but we all still need to be able to make new friends. The thing is, we’re also pickier about who we’re friends with the older we get – aren’t we? We want to feel like we have something in common with people other than their locker is next to yours.

You can find your community online. You can find the people who like to talk about what you like to talk about.

I have a friend whose daughter was born with a very rare disease. She’s found a group of parents online who also have kids with the same disease online where she can talk openly and honestly with people who understand what she’s going through. The disease is so rare that there are only dozens in this group from all around the world - before social media she wouldn't have been able to have these kinds of discussions.

My husband loves online poker. He’s found a community of people who like to talk about poker and who take it as seriously as he does and we’ve even been on vacations with people he’s met through that community.

I have met other female business owners who not only understand what it means to run a business from home while raising a family, but who also live in Ottawa. Not only are they in my city, they're in my suburb. I met almost all of them online. There are three of them in the room right now.

Social media can help you find your tribe. 

There is no doubt that people spend more time on their technology wasting time than they probably should – many of us are guilty of that.

But when it comes to technology making people less social while they hide behind screens all the time? I can’t disagree more.

Next time you see someone with their face in their phone – consider that they might be having a conversation with someone in a space that feels safer and more comfortable to them than the one that they’re actually physically in.

Next time someone talks to you about Facebook, don’t just think about it as a place that people go to waste time and play pretend farming games but as a place they’ve found safe places to talk about the things that are meaningful to them.

Because of social media I have the biggest group of friends that I see in person on a regular basis than I’ve ever had it my life.

Because of social media I never need to feel alone and I know I can always find someone to help me when I need it.

Social media could help you be more social too.

Social tools for business

Social Tools for Business

I'm at the cottage and I am thinking about all the online tools out there and how valuable they can be for businesses. Now, more than ever before, business owners can communicate with their clients and potential clients quickly and effectively.

If you are a business owner who continues to struggle with how to make social media work for you then I encourage you to read through five of my favourite blog posts that offer up valuable social media tips on some of my favourite social channels:

1)   Should you be on Instagram?

If you are a business owner who doesn’t understand the value of posting pictures on a regular basis, then read this post to find out if you’re missing out on a tool that could be helping you reach an audience you didn’t even know existed! If you are a visual business, you should most probably be on Instagram. Click here to learn more.

2) The Value of Recommendations and Endorsements

LinkedIn is a professional social channel and is the best place to showcase your accreditations, skills and accomplishments. It is also a place to connect and network with new professional connections and prove that you are worth working with. It is for this reason that you should learn and use the recommendation and endorsement features on LinkedIn. These features allow people to see what you are all about and have to offer without having to connect with you first. To learn more about the value of LinkedIn, click here.

3)   Why should my small business use Facebook?

Believe it or not there are still small businesses who are not on Facebook – or they are on as a personal profile or group and do not have a business page.  There are advantages to being on Facebook as a business and this post goes back to the basics – for those who still need convincing. To read the full post, click here.

4)   The Twitter Rules of Thirds

If you are new to Twitter, or you have an account, but instead of using it for business use it for news updates instead, this blog post will help you understand what you should really be using this conversational social channel for. Twitter is not as time consuming as you may think! Used correctly for about ten minutes a day can help grow your audience substantially. Click here to learn more about Twitter.

5)   Periscope – What is it and why should I care?

This is a new social app and it is taking the world by storm!  Periscope allows you to live stream from your cell phone and it’s free to broadcast and view. There is a lot of potential in this simple app, and I have seen business owners use it to share tips, product reveals and more!  It’s a quick and easy tool that can be used to connect with your audience in real time – from anywhere in the world. Click here to read more on Periscope.

So, as I connect with you miles from my office I hope you find these highlighted posts helpful as you continue to explore the endless possibilities social media brings for small businesses. 

Blog posts that keep working for you

One of the most frustrating things about writing long pieces of content is feeling like only a few people saw them and hours of your time was for nothing.

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to blog content that will help you feel like it was well worth the time invested.

1)   Summon the SEO bots

Quality content on your website will help you rank higher in search engine searches. Even if you think of it as being there in order to help you work towards ranking higher in search (which we won’t), that’s still not a bad reason to create good content for your website.

This is important because every time you create new content, your website is crawled by the search engine bots. 

2)   Bring visitors to your site

You can send people back to your website for stuff that is already there, but often that gets tired pretty quickly – how many times can you promote your About and Sales pages without people getting frustrated?

Instead, by creating new content that you know is of interest to your audience, you have an opportunity to entice them to return and make them feel like they’re getting value out of what they’re reading.

It's key to make sure that you’re telling them you’ve created the content. Post it on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and on Pinterest. Then send out an email to your mailing list letting your audience know that you created the new content.

If you don’t tell people that it’s there, they won’t know to go and look – so, promote, promote, promote!

I once heard you should spend as much time promoting a post as you spend writing it, if not more. Keeping that in mind will help you figure out just how much effort you have to put into getting people to see it for you to feel like it was worth writing.

A few other tips for promoting:

  • Share multiple times – on Twitter you can share it 5-6 times over 48 hours easily. On Facebook you can share it again 24-48 hours later.
  • If you’re worried about seeming repetitive, use ICYMI. It stands for “In case you missed it” and recognizes that you’ve posted it before, but that you know not everyone will have seen it.

But this next piece is also really critical:

3)   Don’t forget about it.

Once you’ve promoted the content, plan to share it again over time. Not all of your content may be evergreen, but if it is it, plan to share it again in two weeks, six weeks and nine weeks later. You may even want to schedule it to share again in those time frames while you’re posting it the first time. It will save you time and make sure you don’t forget to keep re-sharing it.

There’s a great tool that can help you do that, though it is relatively expensive, called Edgar. I’ve been playing around with it and if you can afford to invest it in, it definitely makes sharing consistently easy.

4)   Reuse pieces

Don’t think of your blog post as just a blog post. Take pieces of it and do different things with it.

Reuse it as a script for a short video, take quotes out and share as tips on Twitter or create visuals and share on Instagram. 

Creating great content can be time consuming, but if you make that time well worth the investment then you will see results - results that make it easier to keep doing. By making sure the content is being properly promoted and shared on a regular basis, you’re going to see far more results with one piece of content than you did before.

Spend some time thinking about some of the content you’ve written in the past – can you do some of these things with them now?




Should I boost my Facebook posts?

If you have a Facebook page then I'm sure you recognize the "Boost Post" button.

Should you be using this feature? If so, when and why?

Facebook Advertising

Facebook advertising is a great investment for your business and I highly recommend that every business have a budget for it. The tools Facebook have created are powerful and let you do all kinds of amazing things, including targeting ads to people who already like your page, people who are friends with people who like your page, people based on other pages they like, and based on age and demographics.

You can also upload your email marketing list and target people who are already warm leads for you, create lookalike audiences from your mailing lists, and put conversion code on websites and then target people based on whether or not they have been to your website.

The possibilities with Facebook advertising are incredible! That being said, figuring out how to use them all, and use them well, is not easy. I've been using their tools for a long time and I still get confused. 

Facebook has tried to make it easier for everyone to figure out how to use the tools and one of the ways they've done that is with the 'boost post' feature. So the question is, should you be using it?

Boost Post

The boost post option lets you, with the click of a couple of buttons, turn something you shared on your Facebook page into an ad. The boost button appears for the admins of a page after each post, making it simple to find and easy to activate.

Once you click "Boost Post" you make a few simple choices and then your ad will be submitted for approval and start posting.

I think the Boost Post function can come in really handy, but only some of the time. Here are some reasons that you should use the boost post feature:

To promote something on your website. 

I promote most of my new blog posts so that I can make sure lots of people see the update and have the opportunity to click through and read the post. I think my audience would value articles by other people and I'm happy to share those, but the ones that I'm going to pay for are the ones that are driving people back to MY website.

To promote something that I'm doing.

It may not be something new on my website, but it's still something that I want my audience to take action on. It could be to enter a contest, to sign up for a webinar or to fill out a survey. 

The key is that I'm promoting myself. Sometimes I see people promoting posts that don't really tie back to their key messages and that isn't a great use of their marketing budget. If you're going to spend money on advertising, either do it to promote yourself with the boost post feature from time-to-time, or, invest in creating elaborate Facebook campaigns using the more advanced features (you may also want to invest in getting some help to do that).

Tips and tricks for using boost post

If you are going to use the boost post function here are a few things I've found work well:

- Boost to people who like your page and their friends. Often, your current audience has a lot of people in their network who are also your audience. By promoting it, not only to them but also to their friends, you are possibly going to find more fans. This is especially true when it's a valuable piece of content like a blog post, and less true if you're asking for something and are just trying to get more people to see your post.

- When I'm boosting a blog post I often boost for the smallest amount over a few days, and I don't always keep the post boosted for the entire time. Once you pause the campaign you stop paying so you don't actually have to pay the minimum amount they make it seem like you have to pay. 

- Check the insights. When you boost a post you will see the 'reach' under your post in two shades of orange. In addition to this, make sure to check on 'view results' so you can see what kinds of actions people took from the money you spent.

Here is an example where I spent just over $1 to boost a post. For that amount I got 16 link clicks, 3 post likes, one comment, and almost 400 more people saw the post. 

I encourage you to play around with the boost post feature. Create a budget for it and figure out what you want to promote about yourself so that the money you're spending brings eyeballs to the things that will move your business forward. 

Leave me a comment and let me know what kind of content you'll be promoting next!

Don't forget to sign up for my FREE webinar this Thursday, July 16th at 1 p.m. EST I will be sharing tips and tricks on how small businesses can use social media effectively without feeling overwhelmed! Click here to reserve your spot now!

What's the stock music of your business?

I listen to a lot of podcasts and one I have listened to a lot lately is the podcast version of Gary Vaynerchuk's show called #AskGaryVee. As I listen to the intro music to his podcast, I can't help but think how well his music represents him.

If you don't know who Gary Vaynerchuk is, he's an entrepreneur who used social media so successfully to grow his wine business that he is now one of the leading experts on the use of social media in the business world. The thing about Gary is that he has a big personality. A HUGE personality. He's got a big ego, which he has no problems owning, he swears a lot and he disagrees with people a lot. So, as I was listening to the music that intros his show I noticed just how fitting it was for him: edgy and a bit aggressive. Take a listen here - the music starts 9 seconds in:

Here's another video, this time it's Marie Forleo. She's someone who I think of as fashionable, professional, fun and quirky. I think the music fits her, though not as amazingly on point as GaryVee's. Check out her intro music at 9 seconds in:

Here's one last one. Farideh is someone who teaches people about how to create launches for their programs. What's fun about her is that she is also a musician and I imagine recorded the music herself. Her music is the closest to what I picked for myself -  lighthearted and fun. To me it speaks to being approachable and not being so "professional" that you're intimidating. Her music starts 14 seconds in:

Why is figuring out your music important?

There are two reasons I think figuring out the music that best represents you and/or your business is important:

1) Understand how you come across and how you want to come across

Having a clear idea about what you want people to think when they think of you can help you connect with your audience. When I get new photos done I come prepared with a list of words I want people to think when they see them. They include works like approachable, fun, easy to talk to - the same words I would use to pick music.

Spend a few minutes making a list of words you think fit you and how you want people to view you. If you're having a hard time thinking of what those words should be then you might want to think about what theme music you would pick for yourself - it's a different way of coming at the same topic.

2) Video

Video is becoming more and more important and you'll see a lot more content with regards to video over the coming months here on the blog. Video is a great way to connect with your audience and share information in short and fun to watch bites. 

When you do use video, you'll want that theme music to set the tone and feeling to your content. It also adds an extra level of professionalism to your product, which is more and more expected in the online world.

Where do I start?

There are lots of great sites to find stock music. It's often not cheap (though I think the two times I bought music I spent under $10) but spending some time thinking about the music you would use could be a lot of fun. I like ukuleles in mine because they're so happy and fun :). One small tip is to look for a loopable clip so that you can buy something shorter.

Two sites to check out are istock.com and www.stockmusic.net/. There are also options for finding royalty free or indie bands who are happy to let you use their music.

Leave me a comment and let me know what your music would sound like, or even better - link to it!