Doing the ‘little things’ for your business WILL add up!

Our youngest is off school with chicken pox this week, putting me firmly into Mummy Mode over Business Mode! Quarantine has given me lots of time to ponder, and to catch up with my blog, social media and sending my new Summer supplement out! Here are my thoughts for today….

Having received support from Success Doncaster (now Business Doncaster) as a small business, I have been lucky to attend a number of introductory workshops about promotion and social media, amongst other things. I have had sage advice from such as Social Media Marketing Angel and Be More Social, which has been invaluable. It has made the technology feel accessible to me, and pushed me to extend my wobbly legs in that direction! (Picture Bambi on ice…?)

One of the main concerns from fellow small business owners on these workshops has been their lack of understanding about social media. Today as I browsed through my facebook newsfeed it dawned on me that, far from being a major social media skills issue, some basic principles were being overlooked at the first hurdle.

I talked at length with one local business owner who wanted to increase her local profile in Doncaster. I loved her product! I shared with her that I have ‘partnered up’ with a couple of other local businesses to make sure we share or comment on each other’s facebook posts, ‘like’ photos or otherwise interact to increase how many people see what we are saying. I asked her if she has a facebook page and she had, but in its infancy. I asked her for a business card and she didn’t have one – she has been in business for two years. I gave her my business card and invited to email/phone/post me her details! She has never been in touch.

Here was an opportunity for two local businesses, with complementary products, to share their reach to a similar audience. All that was needed was a click on ‘like’ when she saw my posts. Nothing technical there. Instead a missed opportunity. I may also have become a customer if I had come away with her details!

This also got me thinking about the pages I see on my newsfeed. I won’t name and shame (far too mean!) but these are my top 5 ‘red rag to a bull’ reasons why some pages won’t be staying when I have my next facebook ‘de-clutter’:

1. ‘Please like if you can see this as my posts are only being seen by about a quarter of my fans…..’ – you know the drill. My newsfeed is littered with these posts – usually copied and pasted. How irritating! How desperate? If you post something that I like, then I will click ‘like’. That will mean more people see it. If it’s not interesting/thought-provoking/ something I want to be associated with I won’t ‘like’ – even if you add a special post urging me to 😉

2. What a ******* day I’ve had. The cat’s been sick, my life is so awful, I hate my job….I have a migraine so I haven’t got all my orders out….no-one knows how hard I work and then this ******* of a customer posts some lies about me. Why do I bother?’ Maybe you shouldn’t? If you can’t wear a professional hat when all around you are losing theirs then at least don’t post about it! If a customer complains about you remember that they are your bread and butter, and a courteous reply to their complaint is likely to have better results.

3. Sharing a cartoon/photo/story that makes you laugh but is in some way offensive to your audience. As your customer, it tells me more about you than I might want to know. I’m not a prude but if it has very strong language, racism, sexism, general bigotry or narrow-mindedness I don’t want to see it and will hide your posts, or ‘unlike’ you. Simples.

4. Bad speling or txt spk. On Twitter I understand. A little. You have limited characters but, even then, I think you can be creative! But on facebook? If you can’t be bothered to check your spelling, use capitals or write the full word, are you really going to ice my child’s birthday cake carefully, or iron my laundry with care? Some ‘ppl’ won’t care but it will instantly switch others off!

5. Ramming it down my throat. I love new products. I love to see new releases from businesses I ‘like’. Even from businesses that aren’t yet known to me – I might find a new product I love! However, streams of uploaded photos all day long drive me potty. It makes me think ‘Oh…it’s that business…again!’ My finger clicks ‘hide posts’ before I even know I’ve done it 😉 You can use scheduled posts on facebook to type all your updates in one sitting and spread them out across the day, or week. you can add new photos to an album, then post the whole album as a link, instead of a stream of photos to your timeline.

I have learned to view social media as a great opportunity to share posts and businesses that I personally like. I have chosen to seek out local businesses and promote the items that I can recommend – the things that I choose to buy. I have found that, for the most part, this has been reciprocated; organically, because we both appreciate the other business or product. And isn’t that what social media should really be about?

What IS on the High Street?

My obsession with all things stationery is becoming a bit of a legend and, some might say, making me appear dull….I can deal with it! This, however , is far from dull and would brighten up any day in the office – at home or work.

 

Fab hilighter pens from Not On The High Street

Fab hilighter pens from ‘Not On The High Street’

 

I love this, and I like to support smaller companies. ‘Not on the High Street’ helps the consumer to do that in some respects, but we don’t always know where our purchases originate. Running my own business has made me more considerate about my buying habits. I have come across some lovely items whilst supporting local businesses and spending less of my cash in the large High Street stores. I think I still have a long way to go in my attempts to be a more savvy and ethical consumer.

I recently read about a family trying to support British business, and I was really impressed by their efforts. In their contribution to boost the economy and support British industry, The Bradshaws have pledged to buy only British products during 2013. You can see their progress, and trials, on their blog, A Truly British Family, well worth a read. The biggest surprise seems to have been that many items we take for granted are not actually British, but imported by British companies.

It also made me think of my ex-pat best friend, now residing in USA. She often makes pleas for Yorkshire tea bags, Walker’s crisps and Irn Bru, which just aren’t comparable or replaceable! Maybe when there is a plethora of choice for us every day we forget the home-grown items at our finger tips?

You can see a list of British suppliers on the blog, and you can happily add Phoenix Trading to that for your cards and stationery.

What’s your favourite British product or business?

 

Union Jack Heart from Phoenix Trading. Greeting cards made in the UK.

‘Union Jack Heart’ from Phoenix Trading. Greeting cards made in the UK.