Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Seven things you need to know about the new desktop version of LinkedIn

LinkedIn has recently rolled out the biggest redesign of its desktop version since the platform was launched in 2003.

The aim, says LinkedIn, is to make the experience of using the world’s biggest business-to-business networking platform simpler, more intuitive and more valuable.

Things have been moved around so that the desktop version now mirrors the mobile version much more closely. This means that the experience of switching from using LinkedIn on your phone to using it on a laptop or PC is virtually seamless.

Platforms such as LinkedIn never stand still and you can be sure that its teams will continue to evaluate feedback and analyse how people spend their time on the site. They will use this information to continue to tweak functionality and design with the aim of encouraging more people to use LinkedIn more often and for longer.

Connections of mine, who got the new version some months ago, tell me they have seen features getting added back in and changed around – and, as always with LinkedIn’s roll-out cycles, users around the world will get changes and enhancements at different times.

Here are seven enhanced features and changes that I believe will be of particular value to business owners and professionals using LinkedIn at the moment:

1. SEARCH. LinkedIn now offers a simple search box in the top left of the desktop screen. You can enter keywords or names and then isolate results by clicking on one of the horizontal headings that run from left to right on the results page in this order: Top; People; Jobs; Posts; Companies; Groups or Schools (or universities). There are also more filters down the right hand side of the page to help you sort your results.

Search options on the new desktop LinkedIn


2. NAVIGATION. The next section of the navigation on desktop has been simplified into six key elements: Home (which takes you to your news feed); My Network; Jobs; Messaging; Notifications and Me (which has a dropdown giving access to LinkedIn’s help section, your privacy settings and any company pages that you have created or of which you are an administrator). To the right of these is a ‘More’ icon that leads you into other features including Groups, Learning (which has lots of online courses you can pay to access after a free months' trial) and Slideshare. The final element on the far right is an icon that leads you into information about LinkedIn’s advertising products.

Navigation on the new desktop LinkedIn


3. NEWS FEED. LinkedIn aims to give you the news and updates that matter most to you. It says it has improved the automated algorithm that decides which updates to show you but coupled this with the input of people in LinkedIn’s editorial team who also have a hand in that decision-making process. In the early weeks of using the new LinkedIn desktop version I have seen more timely, relevant and high quality updates in my news feed. I think it’s also easier now to ‘educate’ LinkedIn about what is relevant to you. When a sponsored item is suggested to you in your news feed you can click on the three dots top right and give feedback by hiding it. It’s not in the interests of LinkedIn, or the companies that advertise with it, to show irrelevant adverts to people who don’t want to see them. So DO use the ‘hide this post’ option for things of no interest to you.

Giving feedback on sponsored posts in your new LinkedIn news feed


4. INSTANT MESSAGING. In addition to the traditional inbox, which you can still access from the top navigation bar, you will see an instant messaging feature in the bottom right of your desktop screen where you can have quick chats with connections who are online.

Instant Messaging on LinkedIn


5. PUBLISHING ARTICLES. Any LinkedIn users can easily write their own articles and add in hyperlinks, images and video clips. These articles can be found by anyone on LinkedIn. This is a great way to raise your business profile outside of your own connections. The interface is really easy to use and you can quickly see which articles are getting you noticed on LinkedIn.

6. YOUR PROFILE. LinkedIn has removed the ability for users to re-order sections of their profile. This means that everything is in the same place when you look at anyone’s profile. There is also a new section near the top of all profiles that includes any recent activity by that person including what they have liked, shared or commented on and any articles they have created on LinkedIn.

7. MAKING CONNECTIONS. One of my favourite changes on the new platform is that when you click the blue button to connect with someone you are now encouraged to add a personal note. I’ve always believed that it’s good practice to add a personal note whenever you want to connect with someone. I rarely accept anyone I don’t immediately recognise unless they have personalised their request to explain why it might be a good idea for us to connect on LinkedIn.

Personalising connection requests on LinkedIn


That's my pick of seven things I like most about the new LinkedIn. Please feel free to share your thoughts below on what you find most useful, or anything you dislike about the new desktop LinkedIn.

You are also welcome to contact me if you want some one-to-one coaching on the new LinkedIn or if you would like me to run a session in your workplace to help your teams make better use of the platform.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Eight tips to boost your Facebook page reach

If you think that the only way to reach people on Facebook is to pay for boosts and sponsored adverts - think again.

Facebook does have a great advertising platform, which allows businesses to target the people they want to reach and offers good value for money, but I believe that there are also many things that small businesses can do to build their reach and raise awareness WITHOUT paying.

Eight tips on improving Facebook page reach


Here are eight tips to boost the reach of your page on Facebook
.
  1. Be clear on WHO you want to reach on Facebook and keep those people in mind whenever you are creating content for your page. It has to be content that they will want to read or watch. Getting 'likes', comments and 'shares' for your content will boost your page's organic reach on Facebook, but you have to earn your place in peoples' news feeds by giving them content that's valuable to them.
  2. Make sure it's easy for people to click through to your Facebook page from your main website and mention it now and then on other social media channels you use, Don't overdo it though. For example, some people on Twitter aren't fans of Facebook so they don't want to be bombarded with links to your Facebook content.
  3. Include a link to your Facebook page in your email signature.
  4. Promote your page's URL offline on your business cards, flyers and posters. If you have business premises make sure your Facebook page URL is on all your marketing materials, such as menus, tickets and feedback questionnaires. Remind customers to 'check-in' and share their love for your business. If they are fans of what you have created they will want to support you and be associated with your brand.
  5. Look for other Facebook pages that it is appropriate for your page to 'like' and 'follow'. These could include business customers and collaborators, suppliers, venues and non-competing businesses and organisations. By liking, commenting on and sharing their content you can reach their fans and raise awareness of your own page. It will also encourage them to return the favour and like your content. But, be true to who you are, and the vision and values of your business. Fake sentiment is quickly spotted by canny consumers.
  6. Make sure that high-quality images and short video clips are a regular feature of the content you create and post on your page. Where possible upload your video clips directly to Facebook. 
  7. Smartphones make it easy to respond quickly to comments and questions from your audience while you are out and about. You can use Facebook Live from your phone when you want to post a behind-the-scenes peek at how your business runs, the people you work with or an event you are holding. If possible, promote in advance that you are going to be live so that your fans can be there to watch. If they miss it, the video will be available on your page later.
  8. Finally, do encourage the businesses you work with and network with - and your friends and family on Facebook - to help you build some momentum. There's no shame in asking people you trust to like and follow your updates.
Every business is unique and so is the community of followers it will build on Facebook and the content it will create and share with them. Many of the businesses and organisations that I work with will opt to run some targeted paid-for boosts and advertising but their money will have the best return on investment if they have previously developed a clear Facebook strategy and understood who they want to reach and how they can develop a page that those people want to return to on a regular basis.

To read more, including a case study about the first day of a brand new business on Facebook, go to my recent LinkedIn post: How small businesses can still 'win' on Facebook.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Specsavers focuses on Oscars mix-up with a well-timed tweet

Successful social media marketing for businesses is about being true to your brand values. If you can inform and entertain, and if you can be timely and topical too, then you are on to a winner.

So I have to say congratulations to Specsavers, who, in my opinion, got it spot-on when it came to reacting to this year's gaffe at the Oscars.

A mix-up with envelopes led to La La Land being announced as the winner of the Best Picture Oscar instead of Moonlight. The mistake was corrected but not without some seriously awkward moments on stage that were pored over by print, online and broadcast media in microscopic detail in the hours that followed.

Meanwhile, Specsavers took to Twitter with this simple but effective tweet: 'Not getting the Best Picture? #shouldve #Oscars' and an image of a hand pulling a card from a red envelope bearing the company's famous advertising slogan 'Should've gone to Specsavers'.


Although the eyesight of award presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway has never been called into question, the Specsavers tweet was funny, concise, on-brand and on-message.

It's not the first time that the eyecare company has been on target with a funny tweet in the aftermath of an incident that's made global headlines.

During the 2014 World Cup you may remember the moment when Uruguay striker Luis Suarez bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini. A number of companies were quick to create reactive social media marketing campaigns, with comical images and tweets. Food companies led the way with Heinz, Subway, Ginsters and Snickers being among the businesses who suggested what else Suarez could have sunk his teeth into.

But in my book, Specsavers nailed it again, implying that Suarez should've gone to Specsavers to avoid mistaking Cellini for the Italian dish of cannelloni.

Yes, it gives us a laugh as we scroll through our Twitter feeds, and we're likely to retweet it, but what is the value to businesses who capture the mood of the moment on social media with topical, reactive marketing campaigns like these?

Well, it gives them a massive digital reach and enviable engagement levels - and some of that activity will translate into visits to the website and new followers and fans.

In the case of Specsavers, they will now be front of mind with many people when they next think about booking an eye test. A few people did tweet back that they were thinking of switching to Specsavers. Maybe they will, maybe they won't, but it has given Specsavers a massive audience online that would have been expensive to reach through traditional media channels.

Of course, brands such as Specsavers don't rely on social media alone; its Twitter strategy is just part of its overall marketing mix.

But I believe that businesses of all sizes can follow Specsavers' lead and focus on how they can start conversations, use humour  and capitalise on topical news and events to be memorable and create a buzz.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Caittom Publishing Shortlisted for Business of the Year

I am delighted to have been shortlisted for Business of the Year (Business to Business) in the Business Networking Awards for the second year running.

This will be the 5th year the awards have been run and the 2017 ceremony will be held on March 11 at The Tower Suite, Drayton Manor.

You can read about last year's award ceremony here. I'll be cheering on some of the wonderful businesses that I have worked for, and with, in the last 12 months. I'm also delighted that the celebrations on the night will help to raise funds for the Buddy Bag Foundation, a charity that makes a huge difference to children who have to move into emergency accommodation.

Caittom Publishing business award finalist

Thursday, 16 February 2017

How to plan your social media content

Planning your social media content
Planning is a key element of business success, and it’s certainly important when it comes to social media content.

When you’ve got a busy business to run, and if creating content and managing social media channels isn’t the thing that you enjoy most, it can be easy to push it down the to-do list and get on with other tasks.

But some advanced planning and organisation can make it less of a chore – and when you start to see some impact from your efforts you may even start to enjoy it.

You can make life easier for yourself by planning your social media content in advance, but remember to stay focused on providing value to your audience and using the relationships you develop to support your business objectives.

Creating a content calendar

To begin with I would recommend creating a calendar spreadsheet for the next six months. Start by putting in the landmark dates such as Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day etc. If you run a retail business or a restaurant then it’s obvious that those times of the year offer marketing opportunities to raise awareness of gift ideas and themed menus that you can offer and promote. But if you are a business-to-business company you can still use these milestones as the subjects of social media posts and blog ideas. For instance, if you are a business coach you could use Valentine’s Day as a hook to write about how you can help business owners to fall back in love with their businesses.

You need to add more events that are specific to your industry or sector to your content calendar. Google is a good place to start searching for national and international events that can be the inspiration for content. If you offer hair and beauty services you might want to note down glamorous red carpet events such as the Oscars and the BAFTAS, ready to talk about who was turning heads and why. If you provide health and fitness advice and products you may want to search for health awareness days, weeks and months and add those to your calendar.

Between these events you can think about topics that will be interesting to your ideal customers. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they will find interesting and useful.

Write down questions that you have been asked about your business by customers, or businesses that you network with, and use these as inspirations for social media content.

Don’t be a pushy salesperson

Don't just sell sell sell on social media
When you’re planning future content, remember that businesses and brands enjoying success through social media don’t ‘sell, sell, sell’. Social media is about building relationships, and that means listening to others and showing them support. You need to schedule some time to regularly read and engage with others on social media.

Your content needs to provide value, position you as an expert and show how you can solve problems and make life easier and better for your prospective customers. No-one likes pushy foot-in-the-door salespeople or aggressive cold callers on the phone – so don’t do that type of hard sell on social media either.

People want to work with businesses that are professional and get results but they’ll also be drawn to businesses that have heart, who show they appreciate their employees by celebrating their successes publicly and who demonstrate the importance they place on excellent customer service, honesty and transparency.

A picture paints a thousand words – a video even more

Importance of images and video in social media
All social media platforms are hungry for visual content.

You will have potential customers reading social media posts who may not even know that they need you yet. A strong image can grab their attention and make them aware of how you could make their life easier or better.

Testimonials from past customers can be turned into content for social media platforms. Use mini case studies as stories on Facebook and turn quotes into visuals for Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Video testimonials capture the essence of what you do and are a powerful tool to persuade people that they need the sort of help you offer.

Behind-the-scenes videos and images are also a great way of showing the human side of your business. It builds trust and confidence in potential customers to know you are experts at what you do with knowledge, skill and robust processes.

Infographics can convey statistics and data in a way that is memorable and grabs attention.

How often should I post on social media?

The answer, I believe, is that you have to find a level that you can sustain - but be aware that a couple of tweets a week won’t change the world.  Be realistic about the time you can spare and the resources you have. Is there someone you can co-opt to help you create content?

Once you have built an audience, and you are acquiring new followers and fans, try and be consistent about how frequently you post. Out of sight does mean out of mind on social media.

Once your calendar is up and running, try and stay a few weeks ahead in your content creation because it’s easy to fall behind when you’re posting something new every day.

You can use tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule content, but if you are focusing on Facebook remember that it has its own scheduling system, which you might find simpler and clearer to use.  

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Kick-start your own blogging adventure

Blogging workshop March 31 2017 in Lichfield


Update: All the places available on this Blogging for Business course on March 31, sold out within 24 hours of going on sale. 

Thanks to everyone who has booked and I look forward to working with you.

I will be looking to schedule future dates later in the year.


Have you fallen out of love with blogging and need to get your mojo back?

Do you want to start writing regular blog posts to raise your profile, promote your business and build an audience of engaged and interested readers?

Would you like to feel more confident about your ability to write?

If so, and you are within striking distance of Lichfield, Staffordshire, I'm running a Blogging for Business workshop on Friday March 31, 2017, from 10am-1pm at Advantage House, Stowe Court, Stowe Street, Lichfield.

This will be a practical session for a maximum of 12 people. You will bring along your laptop and together we'll get stuck in to some serious planning and writing that will kick-start your blogging adventure.

Learn about blogging for business with Caittom Publishing
I won't be covering the technical side of setting up a blog on Wordpress, Blogger or another platform, but by the end of the three-hour session you will have:
  • Developed a strategy for your blog.
  • Identified your ideal audience and planned how to reach and engage them.
  • Explored ways of generating regular ideas for blog content.
  • Practised techniques for creating a start, a middle and an end to your blog post.
  • Learned ways of promoting your blog online and offline.
  • Discovered how to create compelling images for your blog at low cost (or no cost).
  • Looked at copyright law and how to avoid infringements on your blog and social media.
The cost is £29 per person which will include course materials to take away, tea, coffee and light refreshments.  If you have any questions, or would like to book a place on the course, please email elaine@caittompublishing.co.uk. Payment in full will be required by Monday March 27 to secure your place.

If you use a sat nav to find Advantage House, you will need to put in the post code WS13 6DT, but please note that there is no parking for delegates available on site. Local long stay car parks offer good value and a map of where to find them is available here on the Lichfield City Council website 

Here's what some people who have explored blogging for business with me in the past have said:

You made a complex subject simple, even for technophobes like me. I love the guidelines I now have to follow, like rails to run on. Thank you very much.Liz Abram, Liz Abram Coaching Services.

I had got stuck with my blog, lacking confidence in what to write and how to make it all look good. Elaine really helped me to understand how to make the most of my blog. She advised me on my blogging strategy and gave me the confidence to get going again. – Joelle Harris, The Eco Wardrobe Warrior.

I blog quite a bit with different hats on and even with all of my experience it was lovely to learn more about how to target my ideal audience and use the content I already have on different platforms. Thank you so much!!Holly Hinton.


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Why Networking Could Be A Waste Of Your Time



Networking has been on my mind this month.

I believe that networking is an important part of developing any business. It’s certainly been a major factor in the growth and development of Caittom Publishing since 2010. 

Let's not forget that we're all networking pretty much every time we talk to people, whether that's at an organised event or in the queue at the supermarket. 

Thinking about those organised events, I think the key benefits of business networking are:
  • The opportunity to raise awareness of what your business does and the type of people it can help
  • The opportunity to inspire other business professionals to be your ambassadors and help you find new customers.
  • The opportunity to discover trusted suppliers of services you need to use who will deliver value for money.
  • The opportunity to learn from other successful businesspeople and access their advice and support.
I describe all these benefits as ‘opportunities’ because there are some people who are wasting their time going to networking meetings because:
  • They don’t put across what their business does in a clear and memorable way, or explain who they can help with their products and services.
  • They don’t invest time in building relationships with the people they meet so that they build up trust in each other’s work and can refer customers to each other with confidence.
  • They think only about selling their own products and services and are blind to how other people in the room could help them.
  • They don’t listen and learn from the stories other businesspeople tell about their own experiences and they fail to ask questions.

Networking is not an overnight success. You might strike lucky and meet someone who gives you business at your first meeting, but it’s more likely that people will need to see you a few times before they either offer you work or refer other customers to you.

Of course the time, and money, you invest in networking has to get a ‘return’ for your business. I would recommend going to a few groups as a visitor to find one that you enjoy and that offers you connections with businesses that can help you – and who you can help. Look for one with a timeslot that doesn’t have a negative impact on your working day or your home life.  Ultimately you need to find a group (or more than one if time allows) that you can attend regularly so that you build relationships and showcase what your business offers.

If you are looking for a networking opportunity in the Burton-on-Trent area, I am delighted to tell you that I am helping to launch a new monthly get-together in the town on the third Thursday of the month.

It’s a collaboration between Marston’s Brewery and the Burton Small Business group, of which I am a founder member.

There won’t be any membership fee to pay; it will be a relaxed, pay-as-you go group with no restrictions on which businesses can attend. The only requirement is that you are interested in meeting other businesses and forging productive relationships to stimulate growth and greater success for the local economy.

The launch event takes place on Thursday February 16, from 6pm to 8pm at DE14, the Marston’s Brewery visitor’s centre on Shobnall Road. Come straight from work and you can enjoy a pie from The Abbot’s Catering Company and a drink from Marston’s as part of your £10 admission fee. Tickets must be booked and paid for in advance online at http://bit.ly/MeetUpMarstonsFeb16


Find out more about Burton Small Business at http://burtonsmallbusiness.co.uk