Quirky Web

Web and social media for small businesses


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I’m now a Hootsuite Platform Certified Professional

Hootduite Certification logo

Anyone who is managing multiple social media accounts across platforms will find it hard to stay on track unless they are using some sort of tool. There’s quite a few out there and they range from free versions to professional and enterprise paid for versions.

I’ve played around with a few now and found the Hootsuite free version is pretty good. You can manage three social media profiles with it and you get some analytics too. Obviously three platforms might be less than you need, but c’mon this one is free!

Obviously you can upgrade your account and upgrade the number of social profiles and users. I’ve noticed they sometimes offer 30 and 60 free trials of the upgrades too. It’s worth keeping an eye open and trying the Professional version for free for 60 days if you can.

Another cool thing that Hootsuite do is they have some free online courses. The courses range from using their platform through to social marketing, strategy and advertising. The courses are in nice and simple bite size videos which makes it easy to dip in and out of the training. After completing the course you then have the option of paying to take the exam. If you pass then you get a certification and you can have a listing in their Certified Professionals Directory.

Well whilst I was getting up to speed with using Hootsuite I decided to do the online training.

Anyway, today I decided to take the exam. At the time of writing, the course is just $99. I passed today with the rather pleasing score of 90% – you need 80% to pass. I’m now also listed in their Certified Professionals Directory:

https://directory.hootsuite.com/julieplumb

Pretty cool eh?

Google Digital Garage LogoI love how much online training there is out there and how much of it is free. Just before Christmas I went through Google Digital Garage and took their exam – both the training and the exam are free for this. I found it was a really good refresher for Google and brilliant at updating my knowledge with the newer aspects of Google. It is suitable for both beginners and professionals.

Have you found any useful free training that has helped you to update your online skills?

 

 

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Getting back into the swing of social media

social-mediaOK, I’ve been working in the online world for way longer than I’d like to remember…

I’ve been taking a career break after having my little girl. She is now 4 (where did that time go) so will be starting Reception in September.

During this time I have been running Quirky Purple  and it’s been a blast! It has allowed me to use my creative side and made lots of lovely handmade goodies but also to keep my online skills up to date by running a WordPress site, Etsy, Folksy, eBay, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter sites. Because it’s a micro-business and there’s just me, I can flex the work up and down and even close my shop when I need to. OK, it doesn’t make a lot of money, but its fun and keeps my skills ticking over.

Now, ticking over – there’s a problem.

I decided last year that I needed to get cracking on updating my skills if I wanted to be properly ‘work ready’ by September. I spent a lot of time going to open days and looking up courses. I was accepted on another MSc (I’ve already got one in Networked Information Engineering) but unfortunately the university couldn’t seem to get to grips with my need to know in advance when I would need to be physically in the university so I could arrange childcare.

Anyway, I finally came across Digital Mums. They run a 6 month course on Strategic Social Media Management. Not only do they understand that we sometimes have to work around our children but they actively promote #workthatworks and flexible working. The really cool bit is that you work with a real life client though the course and run a real social media campaign for them.

So far it’s been brilliant starting to getting back up to speed in the fast changing online world. It’s also very cool working with like-minded people again!


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Focus on Facebook

If you’ve been reading these regular blog posts, you’ll have noticed that Facebook features quite a bit. Well, there’s a reason for that – it can be a lot of things to a lot of people.

Simple web presence

Setting up a Facebook page can often be the quickest and easiest way of getting a web presence. For many small businesses, it is their only web presence – and Facebook can work well!

It’s so easy to set up a page and do a simple bit of customising. Very often this can be done with a profile and a header picture. You can then easily add in some photos of your products and you have your starting point.

Simple Sales

Countless small businesses will also use Facebook as their main selling platform. There are a number of ways to do this. The simplest ways is to add photos of your stock and then add information to each picture, including the price. Put a note to ask people to message you if they want to buy and then you can send them a PayPal invoice. This method is used effectively by many small crafters.

Driving sales

If you use eBay, Etsy or Folksy as your main selling platform you can use Facebook to drive sales across. All of these selling platforms will let you share your products on Facebook which includes a direct link to your product sales page. Statistics on those sites will also let you check how many people clicked through from Facebook.

There’s also a second stage where you can use a Facebook app to create a tab on your Facebook page which list all of your products with clickthroughs to the product sales pages. Many are free such as EasySocialShop and easy to set up.

Don’t forget Facebook ads too. They can be used to increase the likes on your page or drive traffic through to your sales platform.

Keeping people interested

Although ultimately you would like people to buy your products or services, you have to make sure that you are not just doing the hard sell all the time.

Try to get a good balance between selling and  non-selling. Like pages and updates that you think will interest your followers. Post up interesting articles or pictures. Try and relate your posts to special dates, news or celebrations – Valentine’s Day, Royal baby news, for example.

You could even start your own funny Friday photo!


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How much time should you spend online?

I don’t have time to run my social media properly.

How much time should I spend updating things?

I seem to spend forever online and don’t get anything useful done.

Does this sound like you?  Here are some tips to make the most out of both your social media and your time.

1.      Information overload

Well first things first – have you gone for an all out approach and have set up every conceivable type, of social media? Well you need to take stock and only concentrate on the ones that help to grow your business and your business network. Look at which ones are engaging people more or the ones that you know bring in more business. These are your real goers and the ones you need to spend your valuable time updating.

2.      Time is tight

These days time seems to get eaten up so quickly. The best thing to do here is to look at how your day is scheduled and how much time you may have for online updates. You may find that the morning is the best time for checking through your social media and websites, so allocate yourself a slot.

Make sure that you don’t post 10 updates, one after the other, on each site though. People may miss it or just ignore it as it’s just a whole block from your company. Make use of available tools and schedule some of your updates. Hootsuite constantly comes out very high in reviews of social media management tools and starts off free. Also don’t forget you can simply use Facebook to schedule your Facebook updates. If you write a blog, most blog sites will also have a scheduling feature. You can also do some shortcuts like linking your Twitter to Facebook so one update shows on both.

3.      Sucked into the online void

It’s very easy to pop online to update your Facebook and suddenly 2 hours later, after following a few links, you find yourself reading a blog about link building. What you need to do is focus on the task in hand. If you are going to pop onto Facebook, then read through your feed and then like and share relevant things and then do your updates. Give yourself, say, 10 minutes. Then move onto your Twitter and so the same. Don’t be tempted to follow any links until you’ve finished your updates!

For my full article, written for the Nottingham Post, click here.


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A Picture Paints a Thousand Words Online

Well they say a picture paints a thousand words and on the Internet that can be very valuable.

There are lots of sites out there that are dedicated to pictures rather than words.  And they are free!

Pinterest

This site is growing in popularity and becoming more useful to small businesses.  You can set up any number or boards. These are like good old fashioned pin boards. Don’t just set one up for products but think about what your customers might like. Then you can also start to pin some of your own work.

 For example;  a wedding dress shop may set up boards for colour inspiration, a restaurant may set up boards for recipes, and a builder might set up boards for different project inspirations like loft extensions.

Flickr

This photo sharing site can be useful to use pictures to tell the story of your business or showcase some of your products. Encourage your customers to share pictures of their experiences with your business and products.

For example; a hairdresser may showcase new styles and ask customers to post up pictures of themselves out an about sporting their new hairstyle, or clothing company may ask for pictures of customers wearing the clothes.

Instagram

Are you out and about for your small business? This could be a good one for you. You can take a picture on your phone and post it up, sharing it on other social media sites. I can really get across the flavour of our brand

For example; you are at an event and you can post behind the scenes photos, or you are part way through tiling a new kitchen and you post how good it’s starting to look.

Youtube

Although YouTube is known for entertaining content, it is also used by many people for  help, instructions and information. Videos of how to do things are very popular. As a small business you have skills that you can share with your customers. Videos aren’t expected to be some major production, but if they are useful and informative, they will be watched and shared.

For example; an electrician can show people how to change a plug, a makeup artist can show you how to get the perfect eye makeup, or a crafter can demonstrate craft tasters.

Interested? Just remember the golden rule of not trying to do the hard sell on any social media and you’ll be fine.

To read my full article, written for the Nottingham Post, click here.


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Do you want to start selling online?

Are you a new business and want to start to sell your products online? Are you an existing business that wants to branch out and sell their products online?

Most people think that to start selling their products online they will need a costly ecommerce website. Well, that’s not always the case. It also depends on what you are selling.

eBay

Most people have heard of eBay these days and, as they say, you can buy anything on eBay It’s an easy way to start selling online as the whole ecommerce platform is there, including taking payments.  It’s a good way to dip your toes into online selling, and most huge High Street Stores have an eBay store.

Pros

  • Large ready-made audience
  • The whole platform is there ready to use
  • You can start small and expand to a store later

Cons

  • Your branding will be minimal. Stores give more options
  • Fees – you need to factor these into your prices
  • eBay audiences can expect a bargain, so handmade and high-end goods are not always suited

Etsy

It’s very similar to eBay but tries to create more of a community. The audience outside of the UK is pretty large. You are restricted to selling handmade, vintage and craft supplies.

Pros

  • Cheaper than eBay. Shops are free
  • Audience that understands the value of handmade items

Cons

  • Not as large a ready-made audience
  • Restrictions on what you can sell

Folksy

The chances are that you might not have heard of this one. It could almost be described as a quirky UK-based Etsy. You have to be UK based to sell on this website.

Pros

  • It is the cheapest. A one off fee to list as many items plus selling fees

Cons

  • Doesn’t have the larger audiences of the other websites
  • Tighter restriction of selling categories

 

There are others out there, but using one of these websites is a good way to test the waters and try and sell your products online.

By dipping your toes in one of these ways you can try out your online markets, narrow down your target audiences, and try online advertising. All straight away and with minimal costs.

Finally, you can go out to an agency and get a brand spanking new ecommerce website built for your business, but, hey,  it’s your money!

 

To read my full article, written for the Nottingham Post, click here.


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How social are you? Improve your Google rankings…

Google rankingGoogle is continually changing/improving its search algorithm which means you have to keep on your toes if you want to get higher in those rankings.

Lately, it’s more favourable to an authority in your business. If you have to build some credibility within your audience, then you become more of a trusted authority.

One way that Google measures this is with your social media relationships. Don’t think that means you have to shoot off and increase your followers. That’s not really how it works. So don’t get dragged along with those companies that will ‘buy’ you lots of new followers.

What you need to do is really good and interesting content that you followers will share, retweet, re-post, re-pin and like. It’s about engagement rather than a numbers game of followers. Create good content that will engage your followers/customer.

It’s about effective and regular engagement…

This article, How to use social media for higher google rankings, has some really good tips.

Also, don’t forget to review the tips at Google for search engine optimisation.

Contact us if you want some help and advice on improving your Google rankings.