Small Business Saturday Blog

Establishing a Small Business through Online Branding

Wednesday, August 16 at 15:06Branding | Getting Online | Small Business | Small Business Saturday | Social Media

Beating out the competition in the small business world takes more than just telling others on the street about what you have to offer. You have to create maximum exposure by being accessible on online platforms. By doing so, you better establish your business identity and brand.

Building an online brand is important for a number of reasons. It creates awareness for what your small business stands for. If consumers want to learn about the product you offer, they should be able to access information about it from anywhere. You can also gather a larger following by reaching out to the online community. Lastly, the process of establishing an online presence enables you to gain credibility. If consumers see your business online, they can navigate your site and infer that yours is a legitimate company.

The first step in establishing an online brand for your company is picking a domain name. Many companies underestimate the power of choosing a URL that differentiates them from the competition. A brandable domain name might directly reference aspects of your business, but it doesn’t have to specify what it entails. In the long term, the domain name can build brand value. You will want to check that a name is not already registered before you choose one. Make sure the domain name is user-friendly and short in that it is easy to spell and say. You will also want to make it unique and credible in order to set yourself apart from your competitors.

When establishing your brand online, It is important to have a clear understanding of your target audience. Prior to coming up with content strategies, utilize research tools to identify your audience. Google Analytics will help you figure out the demographic most interested in what you have to offer. Google also offers an acquisition feature which points out how users found your site. You will be able to see if they typed the URL directly into their browser or if they were connected to you through social media or a search engine. Knowing this information will allow you to determine which online marketing channel is most effective.

After identifying your audience, you can work on making your business stand out by creating a brand that consumers will remember. Having an eye-catching logo that can be used on all online platforms and marketing materials will mean customers will attach your small business with a visual. It should give consumers an idea of the product you represent. Also create a business slogan and tagline that stands out. A tagline is a phrase that lets your visitors know who you are right when they click on your site. You will want it to be placed on all your marketing materials. This builds recognition which is key in gaining customers for your small business.

When you build your company website, be personable and accessible by having a home page with an introduction. You’ll want to establish your online brand from the get-go by telling visitors about what you offer and how it will benefit them. Make sure you have a subscriber button on the homepage so users can immediately opt to learn more about your small business.

To directly help sales and marketing efforts, dedicate part of your website to reviews since they can have a significant impact on sales.. Allow customers to share their experience with your product. This content can then be shared on social media where others can see that your small business delivers on what is promised. Enabling customer reviews also positively affects search rankings in search engines. Reviews increase the amount of unique content your site offers giving you a better chance at moving up in ranking.

Social media is an online marketing platform that is free and gives you instant access to consumers. Make sure that you have social icons on each page of your website. All of your social media pages should consistently feature your brand. This will make your business more memorable in potential buyers’ minds. Consumers also like to see and hear about businesses. Posting podcasts or having segments featured on a YouTube channel can build a personal relationship with your target audience. This fosters trust and increases your credibility.

Another online tool you can utilize when trying to spread the word about your small business is blogging. This heightens your visibility. Your search engine rank will improve as you expand to posting content on blogging sites. It also works to help establish a direct relationship with customers in order to gain valuable feedback. Don’t be afraid to share content from experts in your industry. Online consumers will find you more trustworthy if they see you are up to speed on all aspects of your product.

Lastly, stay engaged with your consumers. This is key in building a strong presence online. Use tools such as HootSuite which will notify you when someone mentions your brand. You should respond to comments made about what your small business has to offer. This will show customers you are concerned with their needs and will help spread the word about your business.

Guest blog contributed by Sarah Elizabeth Saker

Five Tips to Effectively Market your Business

Monday, January 09 at 10:50Digital | Marketing | Small Business Saturday | Social Media

Has effective marketing ever been more important among all the noise of the digital world? With billions of websites at our fingertips it’s so easy to spend time scanning for the perfect solution, and those sites or services that aren’t up to scratch might be rejected for even the smallest reason – a stray tweet or a slightly slow website, for example. Here’s five ways to tighten up your product and promote yourself well in 2017.

Create a modern website
Most companies seem to have got the message that running a site that looks like it was built in 1998 isn’t a great first impression to any visitors. Whether you’re a florist, a van leasing company, a sports management firm or are offering a legal service, your site should be a clean, uncluttered and easy-to-use interface. There should be a call to action that shows clearly how, where and why to get the best offers. Above all, it should be easy to find your products, fast to load, and very easy to get in touch – just in case someone actually wants to pick up the phone.

Set up a content calendar
Have you ever thought to yourself “I wish I’d created a piece of content/organised this idea” to coincide with a big, relevant event? For example, it could be a blog or video to coincide with Halloween, or the final of GBBO, or Movember. Maybe you’ve done something, but if you’d thought about it earlier you might have done better…

If you’d created a content calendar several months earlier, planning your blogs and social media and videos to be completed and to land on your sites at exactly the correct time, you would have been primed to take advantage. Start doing this now and reap the benefits of great, timely content.

Utilise social media
Why would you not utilise a completely free method of promoting yourself? It’s a great way of responding to any complaints; an easy, instant way of informing people of your new products and sales using pictures and videos; a method of showing knowledge in your business sector by publicising any blogs, appearances or media that is relevant; and a way of communicating with like-minded people and businesses.

If you’re just starting to use social media, you might be wondering which platform is best.
Launching a craft business? Pinterest and Instagram are sensible options. Launching a B2B start-up? LinkedIn in your best bet. Launching any business whatsoever? Facebook and Twitter, and possibly Snapchat.

Revamp your shop front
If you’ve updated the landing page of your website, then why would you not do the same with your physical premises? After all, they’re really two sides of the same coin. A stark, dark frontage won’t really bring in potential custom, and neither will empty shelves, old signage and shabby looking stock. The actual tidying is not the hard part, it’s the preparation and organisation in your mind that’s the laborious task. If you don’t have physical premises, then consider revitalising your signage, print advertising (yes, people do still take notice of this) and Google Business listing.

Create video
The statistics are clear: according to Forbes, video used in conjunction with email boasts a 300% click-through rate. Thanks to mobile phones and free or cheap online editing, it’s possible to put together a professional looking promotional video, an FAQ, a slideshow or an interview in a very short period of time. It lends itself to social media, and might catch the eye of people who otherwise might not see your work.

Blog contributed by Jessica Foreman. Jessica is a Durham University graduate specialising in business and lifestyle based writing. She has developed her skills on projects surrounding The British Broadcasting Company, and running a print and online based magazine whilst at university.

How to use social media to grow your small business

Friday, May 20 at 09:46Quick Guide | Social Media | Top Tips

Three quarters of SMEs are planning to implement a social media marketing plan by 2017.  But having the expertise to do this right can be challenging, especially if your time is limited.

Here at Digital Mums, where we train mums to be social media managers and help businesses with social media solutions, we’ve developed a straightforward approach that will simply define your approach to social media. And it works whatever your business type.  We call it the Test, Measure, Reflect and Refine model.

How it works
The premise is simple - expand upon what works on social media and throw away everything else.  It focuses on constantly tweaking and improving on content, conversations and engagement.

Step 1:  Test
Think about your target customer and develop detailed user personas of who they are (to find out how to do this check out the first in our #SocialDoneRight blog series).  Then test out different approaches on social media to see what works best.  So for example;

  • push different content formats i.e. photos, videos and text
  • push different content subject matter
  • schedule posts at different times of the day and week

What you choose to test first doesn’t really matter - the important thing is to get started.

Step 2:  Measure
It’s best to wait about a week before you start analysing posts.  As nearly everything on social media can be measured (almost there Instagram!) you can establish the success of every single post.
Some of the analytics can seem complicated, but they’re worth persevering with as the data is incredible.

Step 3:  Reflect
Once you have your data, you’ll need to dedicate some time to really analysing  it.  Distilling key insights will really help you improve your activity, These are some of the key things to look out for:

  • Date / Time

Are there are certain times of the week or month you posts are more successful?  Perhaps the weekend is always quiet so you need to post more mid week, or vice-versa.

  • Audience/demographics

Depending on the platform you’ll get data on the people following you and even who has viewed your profile.  If you’re not quite reaching your target demographic, think again about the type of content you’re pushing out.

  • Impressions/reach

This is helpful for brand awareness as you can check how many people have seen your activity. Certain content or a big influencer sharing may mean a spoke in content.  If you see a dip you might need to post more often.

  • Engagement

The more likes, comments and shares you’re getting, then the more engaged your audience.   You should be able to see what content works best and when it’s best to post it.

  • Clicks

If you’re aiming to drive people to your website then look at the click throughs.  These analytics are also useful in establishing if brand awareness is translating into a deeper interest in your company.

  • New fans/followers

Spikes or drops could be related to the amount your posting and joining in with conversations.  You may see more followers when you use a popular hashtag or piggyback an event, in which case do it more.

Step 4:  Refine
Once you have these insights you can then refine your social media activity accordingly.  Do more of what is successful and get rid of anything that hasn’t worked.

Then once you’ve refined, you can begin testing again.  It’s a never-ending cycle to consistently improve your performance! It takes patience, but over time we guarantee you’ll build an engaged and strong community and truly see results from social media.


By Richard Miranda, Head of Growth at Digital Mums. For a step-by-step guide to social media for small businesses follow our #SocialDoneRight blog series over on blog.digitalmums.com.  Join us every Thursday 11am-12pm for our #SocialDoneRight tweet chats on @DigitalMumsBiz to get advice from social media experts.

Why social media is a treasure for independent business collaboration

Monday, June 15 at 11:00Collaboration | Inspiration | Small Business | Social Media

As a new startup in the beautiful world of flowers and weddings, I’m always keen to promote and grow my business by using as many creative and engaging ways as possible- social media being my preferred option, so when the opportunity arose to team up with another local business  - Pipley Flowers, to co-host a Social Media Lonely Bouquet Treasure Hunt and support British Flowers Week – I jumped at the chance.

British Flowers Week is a National campaign, which encourages everybody (including us Florists!) to buy more seasonal, locally-grown cut flowers. We used to have a thriving cut flower industry in Britain but 90% of this was lost to places like Holland. Campaigns like British Flowers Week aims to show everybody what amazing flowers are literally on our doorstep. British Flowers Week will run from Monday 15 June to Friday 19 June 2015.

When I first started trading, my first port of call was always the regional flower market. The guys are friendly and try and stock British Flowers, but inevitably being a large regional wholesaler, they stock a majority of imported flowers. Then one day, through the wonderful connections I’ve made on social media, I came across Liz Rawlings of Pipley Flowers, a local British Flower Farmer (and a pretty good florist too!) who lives less than 10 miles from my business.

Being an avid follower of floral and bridal trends, I had noticed that there had definitely been a shift in the public's demand for more British grown flowers. I had always wanted to use locally sourced flowers, not only as a wonderful selling point to my customers - British Flowers have an incredible fragrance, vibrancy, and a really long vase life, but to support other local businesses, whilst tapping into the bridal trend to buy local.  I had been unable to do so until I really got into social media -  I just wasn’t aware of how many local flower farmers there are in my area, and by having a connection through social media, I was able to make my dreams of stocking locally sourced flowers a reality.

Most businesses know that social media has made it easier than ever to connect and engage with customers through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all of the other platforms available, but one of the over looked bonuses of social media is the ability to connect independent businesses together. The opportunity to work with Liz and create a social media bouquet treasure hunt for British Flowers Week gave us both the opportunity to promote our individual businesses, use our joint social media campaign as a vehicle for traffic to both of our business sites and raise awareness of the beautiful British flowers that are available to both trade and public.

I found that working together on a joint campaign with another small independent business that compliments your own is a brilliant way to share skills, ideas, responsibility and have a bit of fun in the process. Liz and I created a really fun engaging campaign for the public to find out more about buying British flowers. During the campaign week we will be co-hosting a social media treasure hunt across Bristol for anybody who follows us on social media, giving our potential customers the opportunity to find beautiful bouquets made entirely from locally sourced flowers.

I would totally recommend as a small business to look for opportunities to collaborate on mutually beneficial projects with other independent businesses, not only for the shared commercial rewards, but to contribute towards making a strong network of independents businesses who support each other and create good relationships with each other, after all, two heads are better than one!


By Victoria Baker, Peppermint Rose Flowers, 07717 336659
twitter:@_peppermintrose
Facebook: www.facebook.com/peppermintroseflowers

Liz Rawlings, Pipley Flowers, 07722055702
Twitter:@pipleyflowers
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pipleyflowers 

Use Visual Content to Power Up your Marketing

Monday, April 27 at 12:09Digital | Marketing | Social Media

You’ve seen them everywhere! Visual content comes in many different formats: images, videos, Infographics, SlideShares, graphs, etc.

The trend seemed to kick off in a huge way at the end of 2013/start of 2014 and is continuing its upward trajectory.

Why are visuals crucial to marketing?

Visual content conveys a message in a uniquely succinct way.  They immediately appeal to emotions and are hugely engaging.  Humans are essentially hard-wired to digest information visually, as HubSpot demonstrates in this (visual) graphic!


In addition to the above, we all love sharing photos or videos that make us laugh or smile, or pictures that evoke a memory, for instance.  If you create powerful images which resonate with your audience they will likely share it with their friends on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc., and share your message at the same time.  What a way to spread your business message and increase your reach!

Consider the surge in images and videos across Twitter.  Twitter now has its own native video platform and, in the last few months, apps like Meerkat and Periscope have exploded onto the market. In fact, Meerkat caused quite a stir at #SMMW15 in San Diego this year.

Here’s the difference a tweet with an image makes to engagement levels compared with one without an image:


As a small business, you need to harness the power of visuals in your marketing strategy.  It’s a level playing field: you can use these resources as well as the big guns!

Start off with images

You can easily create your own using my two favourite go-to apps: Canva and PicMonkey.  Both are entirely FREE to use but they also have extra features for which you can pay a small amount either per image or per month.

If you’re just starting out as a small business, there are lots of websites which offer stock photos which are FREE to use (always double-check the licence terms before using for commercial purposes.  See below).  Don’t spend a fortune on purchasing expensive images; it will blow a hole in your budget very quickly!


Here are some great resources for stock photos:

(1) Refe Rea Life Photos
(2) Pixabay
(3) Morgue File (Ensure you select the “Free Photos” tab)
(4) Flickr free use photos

Make the Image your Own

➣  Don’t be tempted to upload images directly into your blog and hit “Publish”!  Add text overlays, including your business logo and URL, to give the image a more personal and branded look.   You can easily do this with Canva and PicMonkey.

➣  Stick to your brand style, colours and fonts when adding overlays and don’t mix them up.

➣  Decide on 3 fonts to use for text: one for a heading, one for sub-headings and the other for quotations, for instance, and stick to them for a consistent, branded look.

➣  Outline the benefits your readers will receive to entice them to click through and read your content, like this great example from Anna Bennett, top Pinterest marketer.


➣  Each social media platform has its own unique image size dimensions so refer to Canva’s pre-formatted templates to ensure you get the optimum look.


If you’re at all stuck, need some further advice or just don’t have a creative bone in your body, don’t panic!

By Nicky Pasquier, Founder of Virtuoso Assistant. Email me at any time and we can schedule a chat: hello@virtuosoassistant.co.uk

6 Benefits of Social Media for Small Businesses

Friday, April 24 at 10:21Marketing | Social Media

Social media has transformed the way we interact and communicate. Not only for individuals, but also for small businesses and startups. Social media marketing has become an important part of any brand’s marketing campaigns. Why? The reason is the following unique benefits of social media for small businesses:

1. Social Media bridges the gap between you and your customers 
If you are a startup and want to strengthen your customer base, get close to your customers on social media and create a bond with them, while actively seeking new people to connect with. Social media gives your customers a platform to know you better and takes relationship building to a new level.

2. Fuel your sales 
Social media can help you increase your sales. Whether you are a product manufacturer or a service provider, you can educate your customers on any new offerings, updates or promotional offers within seconds. With a little bit of reinforcement they can turn into repeat-customers!

3. Create a two way conversation 
Professionally done marketing research can be expensive and time consuming. On social media, you can take advantage of free surveys or get instant feedback through informal Q&A. Get to know the habits of your community and how they respond to the content you produce. By interacting on social media, you can gain valuable insights into the preferences and buying behaviours of your community.

4. Network with other small businesses
Use social media to discover interesting businesses in your industry and area and build a relationship with them.  This may create opportunities for collaboration or support and give you fresh ideas for your social media pages by connecting with companies that you admire.

5. Find your company’s niche 
For small businesses the most important thing is to create awareness and connect with the right audience. Every social media website has a different tone and user type. Beyond the major social media websites, you may find that new or targeted social media sites offer new access to customers and industry colleagues. Here are a few sites that may be useful for your business:

Edgee: For creating new stories and content for your audience.
Your Interest: For creating events and inviting a like-minded audience.
Tagstr: For creating content with shared hash tags.

6. Enhance traditional marketing efforts
Social media can help you promote and support your small business’ other marketing efforts. For example, if you are promoting a new product with print advertising or events, you can use social media to increase awareness and impact.

By Amy from Tekfirst in Harrogate, North Yorkshire

3 Ways to Grow Your Business Online

Thursday, April 23 at 09:57Digital | Marketing | Social Media

Business growth can be tough as a small business. It can often feel like organisations with bigger budgets have an advantage, but the internet is our level playing field. Here, the size of our business is not the driver of our success. Instead, the internet cares about the quality of our business and of the content we create. By displaying our expertise in a way that is valuable and useful to our target audience, businesses of all sizes can succeed and grow online.

Here are 3 tips to help you grow your business online.

1. Know your audience

Before you start any marketing campaign, it’s important to really know your target audience.

Think about the segments you are trying to reach. Perhaps you’re targeting a particular industry or business size. Make a list of these.

Next, build a clearer picture of each of these segments. Think about their behaviour - are they time rich or time poor? What technologies do they use? What are the challenges that face them and their industry? Try to build a picture of a ‘real’ person that you can refer to to help you better understand the entire segment they represent.

2. Create great content

Digital marketing - be it SEO, PPC, digital PR or content marketing - all depends on the creation of great content.

Put simply, great content is content that communicates something of value to your audience in the most engaging and appropriate way for them. Let’s look at an example of Akita Cloud Computing Guides:

Akita is a small business which provides IT solutions to other businesses. They recently communicated information to their audience in the form of a series of cloud computing guides for small businesses:



What Akita has done so well here is to take their expertise on a potentially complex idea, and communicate it in a way that is aesthetically very pleasing, easy to read and, importantly for busy small business owners, in a digestible format that you can dip in and out of.

Of course, great content can be even more simple than all of this. It starts with the very basics of getting your website right. Have you got a page on your website that represents every one of the products/services you offer? Is each one of these pages the best possible page on its particular topic, with lots of useful information, images and resources?

By creating great content, you’ll stand a much better chance of:

Representing your business in the best light possible
Improving your search visibility and rankings
Gaining brand awareness and improved website authority through shares and links
Engaging your audience

3. Speak to your audience in the places they’re already active

By this point, you know your audience really well and you know what you want to say to them. Now, you need to know where to speak to them.

This means identifying the channels and platforms they are already using, and taking the content to them there. For example, if you know your audience is really active on LinkedIn, you should invest in your LinkedIn profile, possibly advertising and engaging through groups. If you know they tend to read a lot of start up advice via websites like Enterprise Nation, you should seek opportunities to have your business featured there.

I recently compared this to hosting a dinner party; if you know all of the people you want to invite live in London, don’t host your party in Edinburgh. Equally, if you know your audience is most active on Twitter, there’s little use in focusing your efforts on Facebook.

If you know your audience, you know what you want to say to them and you know the right place to say it, you stand a good chance of succeeding online.


Author Bio: Laura Hampton is the digital marketing manager at Impression, a digital marketing agency based in Nottingham city centre which offers SEO, PPC, content marketing and digital PR services. A small business itself, Impression has grown from 2 people in November 2012 to a team of 10 and growing in April 2015. 

Big vs. Small: What Advantages Do Small Businesses Have On Social Media?

Monday, April 13 at 10:29Customer Service | Marketing | Social Media

There’s no denying that bigger businesses have bigger budgets to spend on marketing campaigns, and whilst this can seem like a daunting prospect for smaller businesses, there are actually three great advantages for small businesses when implementing social media strategies:

Personality Potential

Having just a few individuals working with your social media means that you can celebrate and promote each person at your company within your social media campaigns. This can be anything from photos and videos of employees using a product, to articles written by a team member or specific ‘Q&A’-like sessions.

A great reason for doing this is the boost in familiarity your customers feel towards your brand. Showing the ‘real people’ in your business will simultaneously increase the likelihood that customers will trust your brand, recommend it to others and return to it.

Larger companies tend to be more faceless because they have hundreds of people operating their social media in order to cope with the volume of traffic they receive on a daily basis. Most of their personable aspects involve simply a by-line under an article or a first name sign-off at the end of a tweet. Instead, small business can take advantage of their individuality and give their followers reliable, human personalities they can trust.

Individual Customer Interaction

In a similar line of thought to making the individual personalities in your business stand out, the way in which you interact with customers and respond to them online can also be an invaluable way to build your business reputation.

Larger companies who deal with complaints on Twitter or Facebook often reply with a generic “Hi xxxx, sorry to hear about that, please contact our Customer Services on…” This method becomes little more than a signposting exercise, which ushers the complaining customer behind closed doors to talk about their complaint quietly. This re-direction also implies that it’s ‘inappropriate’ to use social media for complaints, when in reality, it’s the first port of call for unhappy customers hoping to get a little bit of support from the crowd along the way.

As a small business, you can grit your teeth and deal with public complaints on social media head on. As long as you do this with respect and tact, you’ll be seen to be actively and transparently problem solving, and working with the customer rather than against them. The flip side of this coin also means that if you get positive reviews and testimonials, you can engage with customers in a public, positive way. The rule that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery is also true on Twitter, and re-tweeting a customer’s review or comment to your followers will also reinforce relationships as you build them.

Story Telling

Smaller companies also have a great opportunity to get creative with ‘story-telling’ on their social media. Whether this is an unusual description for a product or a video sampling an individual service, smaller companies can often take advantage of more focused group demographics in order to tailor content specifically for these target audiences.

Larger companies can often be restricted by the need for overarching, crowd-pleasing content that will navigate language barriers, cultural differences and politics. Whilst it’s always important to take these factors into account when creating organic content for your business, the flexibility of a small business communication means you can talk to customers on a more colloquial level, incorporating details from a specific region, age group or interest.

If you begin a campaign in which you ask customers to participate and get involved with the storytelling, as a small business you’re also likely to receive a more manageable amount of responses, which can lead to some engaging and unusual collaborative projects that are authentic and difficult for other businesses to replicate.

By Olivia at Shake Social

How to promote your business on YouTube

Thursday, March 05 at 09:36Getting Online | Marketing | Social Media

There are many reasons why businesses might have video content they want to share. You may have had videos professionally produced by a production company and are keen to reach the widest possible audience; you might be creating your own steady stream of content that you want to use to build awareness of your brand; or you might simply want to share the expertise and knowledge of others within your industry. Whatever the source of your video content, it pays to use YouTube.

To get the most out of YouTube it’s worth understanding what is meant by a YouTube account and a YouTube channel. Since Google purchased YouTube in 2006 they have gradually increased the integration between YouTube and their other services so these days there is no such thing as a standalone YouTube user - instead you need to create a Google account and this gives you access to YouTube (as well as other Google sign-in services such as gmail etc.). A YouTube account lets you watch, like and share videos, but little else. All this activity is private, and your YouTube account has no ‘public presence'.

Create Your Channel
To unlock the full potential of YouTube you need to create your Channel. This is easily done by logging into YouTube and clicking on the ‘My Channel’ link under your profile picture in the top right, then following the instructions on screen. Once you’ve created your channel you have access to a multiple tools under the banner of ‘Creator Studio’. Not only can you upload videos, but you can perform corrections such as colour and lighting, add Instagram-style creative filters, add music and now you can even edit videos online using the YouTube video editor. And using the built in analytics tools you can you can analyse how many people are watching your videos - and for how long.

Much of this is done in private in the ‘back end’ of YouTube. But having a channel also gives you dedicated Channel page, which acts as the ‘public face’ of your YouTube account. Think of it like a Facebook page or a Twitter feed where you can share your own video content and that of others as well as build a list of followers (called ’subscribers’). And as long as your channel is linked to a Google+ page, you can set the channel name to the name of your business and this also appears in your Channel URL (for example: www.youtube.com/hyperfinemedia).

Customise Your Channel Page
Although it is not possible to remove the YouTube branding and sidebars, you can customise the Channel page with a banner graphic, logo and colour scheme to match your own branding, as well as add links to your website and social media channels. The first reason why you need a Channel page is to organise and display your own videos. You can set one of your videos to act as a ‘trailer’ (essentially an introductory video) which appears in a prominent position. You can set up playlists of your videos and are able to give these playlists titles and descriptions - giving your own videos an extra layer of optimisation (note that playlists can show up in Google search results as well as the individual videos in that playlist). We’d recommend splitting longer videos into shorter sections and having these in a single playlist - that way you have multiple opportunities to optimise the titles and descriptions and your viewers can easily find the sections of interest using the playlist interface.

Share
YouTube channels are not just about promoting your own content however. You can include other users' videos in your playlists - so for example you could share video reviews of your products uploaded by your customers. One quick tip to do this very easily is add the ‘Liked Videos’ playlist to your channel page and any videos you ‘Like’ after watching will automatically display on your channel.

Subscribe 
Any viewers who find your video content of interest can subscribe to your channel, and will be notified when new videos are uploaded. Likewise you can subscribe to other users' channels - and you can choose to display these on your own channel page. Again this is a quick and easy way for you to quickly build up a repository of industry related expertise - this will help you build a list of subscribers who in turn will have access to your future uploads. One piece of advice for building a list of subscribers is to focus on sharing content that is of practical use - such as ‘how to’ guides and ‘hints and tips’, which are more likely to win you subscriptions than sales-focused videos.

So whether you’re looking to share your own video content or just create an industry resource that wins you new subscribers, a YouTube channel is a must. Set up correctly it can almost act as a second home page for your business and increase the chances of potential customers discovering you and your services online.

By Garth Haley, Videographer, Producer and Animator and Director of Hyperfine Media.

How I Set Up My Business and the Four Reasons Why It Is Successful

Wednesday, March 04 at 09:35Inspiration | Social Media


My daughter was nearly 2 years old and I’d been a full time mummy for 669 days! (I wasn’t counting of course!). The extent of my mental stimulation was remembering and reciting nursery rhymes and singing the alphabet song 30 times a day.

The need to find a means of income that was more satisfying and rewarding than a ‘job’ but without the commitment and time needed to dedicate to a ‘career’ was essential (only later did I realise that any business you run yourself involves an incredible amount of your time, commitment, dedication… blood, sweat & tears!)

I had 2 rules when making this decision:

1. My daughter comes first so it has to fit around her (sorry to spoil the sorry but I failed on this lots of times! But it’s okay she still loves me and I learned a big lesson about what’s important in my life).

2. I must have passion for it & love doing it. Luckily this is easy if you choose the most obvious path, and the bits you don’t love (because there will be some) -  outsource!

Well after 5 years of writing plans in my ‘Business Ideas’ book (which I still treasure today) I came up with the concept of The Beauty Event. This little idea actually turned out to be pretty big! After an exciting launch event at Hotel Du Vin in May 2012 I went on to host many events over Bristol including The Pamper Area at Women Outside The Box festival in the autumn of 2012 & 2013.

The only niggle was…. my number 1 rule was being broken! (By then I had 2 little people in my life, my son was 2 and my daughter 6). Anyone who works in events and especially management of events where the sole responsibility for every aspect of the event is down to one person: YOU! It’s a tough job and to say its a rollercoaster ride is an understatement.

In May 2014 the 2nd anniversary of TBE we celebrated with The Merrymaking Festival. A wonderful family event full of hands on activities, craft, live music, afternoon tea, an amazing line-up of speakers and all my favourite exhibitors too. This was the last event in the TBE journey. I’d made a decision to choose my family over the rollercoaster.

During those last few months I’d done a lot of soul searching as to what I could possibly do next on the path of life. All along it was staring me in the face! Without me even recognising people’s interest in my social media skills my next business was sowing seeds all over the place!

Exhibitors and therapists often asked me for tips and advice on how they could use Facebook to let more people know about their business and ultimately get more bookings. Looking back the opportunity had been there a while, but I guess I needed a few more clues before I could actually ‘see it’.

I don’t like to hang about and once my mind is made up I’m 110% focused on ensuring it happens. Seven days after TBE’s last appearance SHC Social Media was born and within the first week I had three clients!

10 months on, I’ve launched my website, given more than 25 1-2-1 tutorials, hosted group workshops & training and managed social media accounts for 13 different clients! On top of all that I’m really keen to collaborate and work with local businesses especially those with a female core focus. In November of last year I sponsored the CLIC Sargent Celebration Ball held at the Marriott Hotel and I’m currently sponsoring the BeFab Bristol event taking place in March, which is all about being fabulous inside & out! (this is right up my street!)

I do have to admit that rule no.1 is still being broken on occasion but that’s because of rule no.2! As long as you have a burning desire at the core of your business that will keep the fire alight then your sole objective then is to just keep that passion in check!

I am incredibly grateful for my success in my new business venture and would measure this based on 4 reasons, which can apply to any business:

1. NETWORK: I had a ready made market just waiting for me. Through my event work I met and got to know a lot of small businesses. (But I don’t rely on this and I continue to network and build my contacts, meeting new people is a very enjoyable & fulfilling part of life)

2. DEMAND: My market need & want my service (small businesses really benefit from  social media and it is very accessible for them).

3. PASSION: I love working with small business owners to help them make their business more successful. Ultimately this is the driving force behind what I do every day.

4. REAL: I’m approachable, genuine & easy going! (Many small businesses find the idea of social media a bit daunting so I make it user friendly!).

I believe people come first and everything else comes second. If you put the people in your business first (you) and the people in other businesses (your clients) first also then you will find you’re fostering strong relationships built on mutual trust, respect & understanding. To me this sounds like a recipe for success, wouldn’t you agree?



By Sarah Cook, founder of SHC. "SHC is about opening people’s eyes to an amazing and ever changing online world which has incredible potential for your business when used in the right way! I help small businesses and start-ups get more social media savvy! Take a look at my website for more info & feel free to get in touch for a free consultation.” www.shcsocialmedia.co.uk

If you are a Small Business, You Need Social Media

Tuesday, February 03 at 15:59Customer Service | Social Media

Social media allows any small business to compete with larger enterprises. An entrepreneur can easily increase sales and profit margins by effectively using the social media channels.

The Competition is starting to get Ahead

It is easy to deal with the other guy when you can see him. Competition may not be in the neighbourhood or a few blocks away. In fact, a competitor for a small business maybe hundreds of miles away. Social media is allowing that competitor to establish brand awareness in your backyard. The social media platforms allow for networking content almost everywhere, attracting a multitude of new customers. Research has shown that 75% of all Americans online are influenced by private information coming from social media. They also are developing brand loyalty to what they have discovered. No less than one third of customers are saying that the social networks are how they discover new products.

More people are shopping and making transactions from their smart phone. They may be miles away from the store, but technology allows them to make a purchase. This means that a customer buying from your business is someone you will perhaps never physically meet, and lives in another part of the world. That is how powerful social media is in today’s commerce.

Why Not Use the Tools to Succeed?

You may be spending a lot of money on advertising, but you can be even more efficient by using the right tools. Social media permits you to cut your marketing and advertising budget substantially. You simply have to use the means provided online. A tool such as SocialCentiv will allow you to search Twitter for new customers. You can even use metrics such as your community to narrow down the search (This tool has a seven day free trial). You can easily integrate a social network into your e-commerce website when you use something like Pushup Social. Managing a number of social media accounts is a piece of cake when you have a dashboard such as Hootsuite. The more you look at all of the aids and the support the social media channels provide, using social media is not a problem and there’s a chance for strong profits.

Social Media can be local and Fun

You may not want to tour the globe to find customers and that is all right. There are local social media devices that can really help. You can register with Foursquare for location based searches, and the consumer boards like Yelp are able to provide great testimonials from your satisfied customers. You have a great opportunity also to connect with people and improve on the customer service that you are already providing. The same loyal customers you appreciate can actually help by referring their Facebook or Twitter followers to you. This is traditional word-of-mouth advertising multiplied by the hundreds. The phrase “Please Retweet” can send scores of referrals to your company. You spend a lot of time and effort trying to get the word out about your business and your products. The social media networks not only save money, but literally hours of time.

This can be fun. Social media relies a lot on relationships and the human touch. You may have developed that over the years, and you can strongly benefit from your personality on social media. All it takes is for you to decide what social media platforms you would like to be on and develop a strategy. There is no reason to be satisfied with just the status quo. The modern business world holds some amazing opportunities. You can profit from social media if you use it. Those who do are going to be very pleased with the amount of new business which comes flowing in.

By David Miller 

David is an educational researcher who has several years of experience in the field of teaching, online testing and training. He is associated with prestigious universities and many leading educational research organisations. Currently, he is pursuing research in online knowledgebase software and is also a contributing author with ProProfs.

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