Concise Training Introduces New Digital Services Brand Concise Digital


Concise Training – and so much more!

Concise Training has been offering social media training services since 2009 through face to face training, City & Guilds qualifications and E-Learning courses.  As our ex-training clients have grown and become more successful they have often returned to us to ask if we can provide a number of digital marketing services.

In response to this demand, we started to provide a social media content management service, our emphasis being on engagement through the use of relevant content, questions and high quality, interesting images – the creation of bespoke images not only increasing brand awareness but also helping to deliver the message in a more engaging way.

Increasingly, we have received requests for graphics to enhance social media profiles and support online promotions. The demand for email newsletters has also increased considerably as a highly effective and lowWordpress Support Group Icon. cost method of reaching a wide audience. A good landing page and website are an indispensable part of inbound marketing, after all why put so much effort into social media to drive traffic to your website if your visitors are put off by your website? Over the past year we have been pleased to offer our clients WordPress website design and development.

Defining the brand

During my face to face networking events, I became very conscious that I was known as ‘Concise ‘Training’ and the additional message of offering content management and website services was getting lost.  I am keen to grow both sides of the business so we can offer a complete digital and social media marketing service to clients. We have decided that the training side of the business and the digital services side need to be more distinct to raise awareness of our range of services.  However, uniquely the two brands will continue to work closely together to offer a full range of social media and digital marketing solutions.concisedigitallogo

I’m delighted therefore, to announce the launch of our new brand Concise Digital. Please take a moment to visit the website, we would love to know what you think. We have had very positive feedback so far and appreciation of the extent of the services we can provide.

Concise Digital provides a suite of digital marketing services including digital marketing consultancy, social media content management, email newsletters, blog posts, graphical content for online marketing and website services. These services will reflect the overall Concise brand in that they will be delivered in a personal, bespoke and affordable way and will draw on the considerable knowledge base of Concise Training’s work to keep up to date with online marketing and technological advances to the benefit of its clients whatever their industry or size of their business.

So what does this mean to you, the reader?

The Concise Training blog and newsletter will continue to provide useful tips about digital and social media and “how to” guides.

Our Concise Digital blog and newsletter, will provide useful content in the form of what to do (and why) in the way of content marketing and the unique brand of opinion that Concise Training subscribers have become accustomed to.

We recommend that you subscribe to both blogs and both newsletters to ensure that you receive the full story.

So how does Concise Digital add value to its clients?  Here are some of the highlights, please visit the website for more details:

star-smallWe firmly believe engagement is key to the success of digital and social media media marketing and is at the core of everything we do.

star-smallFor your content management service you will work with your account manager as well as Mary, our director to:

  • identify specific, realistic aims for your digital marketing
  • understand and learn the brand and voice of your business
  • create a bespoke solution for your budget and audience.

star-smallYou will be encouraged and helped to contribute to the content shared on social media – you know your business.  We will work with your content and make it more engaging across the appropriate channels.

star-smallDigital advertising campaigns will be created across the marketing channels if this is right for your business.  We will help you to target the campaigns and keep within a specified budget.

star-smallYou will receive a monthly report so it is possible to track whether your aims are being met.

star-smallWith in-house graphic and web-design expertise we can design, host and publish your business website.

star-smallWebsite overhauls including search engine optimisation reviews have become a speciality.

If you would like to know more, do have a look at our website or contact us for more details.

The value of regular newsletters


The value of regular newsletters for businesses.

Are you sending a monthly newsletter to your contacts?  I have been sending a newsletter to all my contacts each month for most of the 7 years that we have been in business.  Most months I see a return on the investment of time that it takes to create the newsletter, either in the form of a direct booking, an enquiry or a referral – to me it is a ‘nobrainer’.

If you are going to send a newsletter, don’t be tempted to attach a PDF file to a standard newsletter – unless you have a very loyal audience, not many people download PDF attachments and you can’t track open and click links.  There are a number of tools available to create ‘professional newsletters’.  

For the past 5 years, I have been using MailChimp, not least as it is free to 2,000 An image of the MailChimp logo featuring a chimp in a mailman's hat.subscribers, but also, because MailChimp put a lot of work into adding extra functionality and improving the interface.  In this post, I’m going to discuss the functionality that MailChimp offers but I’m sure you will find similar functionality in your system of choice.

Whatever you decide to use there are a number of aspects to consider.



Newsletter list image. You should, where possible have one list that is maintained in MailChimp – don’t refresh it each time and don’t have multiple lists for multiple types of newsletters.  Use the List group feature within Mailchimp and allow your subscribers to select which newsletter they would like to receive.  For example, you will shortly be able to choose to receive either or both of our Concise Training and Concise Digital newsletters.



Make sure that your list comprises of opted-in subscribers.  These are individuals who have chosen to receive your newsletter – either they have signed up at your website, they have put their card into a bowl at an exhibition which has clearly stated they will be signed up, or you have verbally checked they are happy to have your newsletter when you exchange business cards.  In my opinion, you should not send newsletters to everybody you meet at a networking event or everybody you are connected to on LinkedIn.  If you purchase a list – do make sure that it is ‘clean’.  Mailchimp and other tools have a very low tolerance for people they see as spamming – and in my opinion, it just isn’t worth the risk.

An image showing the toolbar from MailChimp.

As part of creating your list, make it easy (and obvious) for people to sign up for your newsletter on your website.  Mailchimp gives you code to embed on your website to make it easy to do.


Mailchimp calls newsletters campaigns and gives you several options:

  • Regular campaign (the newsletter with graphics and text that lands in your inbox)
  • Plan text campaign (a plain text version of a newsletter, no images or hyperlinks)
  • RSS campaign (a great way of sending your blog posts to subscribers – it can be set up to automatically send links to the posts that have been published since the last newsletter)
  • A/B Testing campaign which allows you to test different parts of a newsletter (recommended list of over 10,000 subscribers)

The image shows campaign graphics that could be used as content for your newsletter. Once you have chosen your campaign, you need to add some initial details including the title of the newsletter.  Remember your title needs to entice your subscribers to open your newsletter amongst the other 100 emails they have in their inbox.

There have been many blogs written about newsletter titles including this one from WordStream so I’m not going to cover a lot of detail here, but in general:


  • do think about your audience
  • do make the title relevant and succinct
  • do try to use questions
  • do make the newsletter interesting
  • don’t include the word ‘newsletter’ e.g. Our Latest newsletter
  • don’t include your company name e.g. News from Concise Training

Once you have entered the basic Campaign information, you can pick the template you A graphic showing 3 newsletters. want to use.  Basic templates include:

  • 1 column
  • 1 column > 2 column
  • 1 column > 2 columns > 1 column
  • 1 column > 3 columns

Select the one that you want to try – you can change the template that you use at a later date.


An image showing MailChimp's building blocks that will help you create your newsletter.Once you have chosen your template, you can use a number of building blocks to put together your newsletter.  My best advice is to use what Mailchimp gives you.  For example, if you want to include images, use the image blocks – don’t put images within the text.  The reason for this is that your newsletter may be read by any number of different email systems – all of which render images differently.  Mailchimp has done a lot of the hard work for you by creating image blocks that should be rendered correctly – if you choose not to use them, you run the risk of images randomly resizing or the text randomly wrapping.

Once you have written your email, test, test and test again.  The preview option is pretty good and will allow you to test hyperlinks (which of course you have included in your newsletter – haven’t you?).  

Once you are basically happy with the newsletter, do send some test emails and try to look at them in a range of email systems (Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, etc..)  Do be aware that there is a restriction on the number of test emails you can send, so use the preview to get it basically working.


The image shows a red button being pressed to depict your newsletter being sent.When you are ready, go for it. What day / time should you send your emails?  There are various schools of thought.  Some people say that the email should arrive in an inbox first thing in the morning – others say that 10am is the best time.  Some think Friday will get the most opens, others Tuesday or Thursday.  It will depend on your audience and what you are talking about – the best thing is to try different times / days and measure the results.



Your newsletter has been sent, you can now sit back, relax and get on with your other work, right?  No – MailChimp will give you information about who has opened your newsletter (and how often) and who has clicked on which link.  This is incredibly important information which needs to be passed on to your sales team so you can follow up with a phone call or email.

What do you think?  Have you used MailChimp or other systems to distribute regular newsletters?  Do share your experiences.  If you are interested in learning more about newsletters, we offer training or our Concise Digital team will create and send newsletters for you.

Immersive Advertising


Immersive Advertising Blog Image. The blog is about the rise of 360 degree video and its use for advertising.

Facebook have recently launched support for 360-degree video adverts

If you have not come across a 360-degree video yet, you may be wondering what is so great about them. They are the next stage in the evolution of the 360-degree panorama, the difference being a 360 degree panorama such as those seen in virtual tours is a series of static images stitched together and distorted to fit on the inside face of a virtual sphere or cube and a 360 degree video is a moving scene within which you can change your viewing perspective.

The best way to get your head around this is to look at an example:

To view this, you will need the latest version of a compatible browser (Google Chrome seems to be the best as far as we can tell) and plenty of spare bandwidth – the data-heavy nature of these videos being their biggest drawback at the moment.

To explain how these are created we can look back a few years to the introduction of the 360-degree panorama.

360-Degree Panoramic Images

Today’s digital cameras nearly all have a setting for shooting panoramas, you push the button and move the camera slowly from one side to the other panning across the scenery. The camera takes a series of images and stitches them together to form a single image.

This image shows how panoramic images are numerous images that are put together.

Before these cameras were developed you had to shoot a series of images and put them through a stitching software such as the free to try Panaview Image Assembler. Whether the camera did the stitching or you did it using software like Panaview, you would end up with a single large panoramic image:

The image shows a blue oblong to represent a panoramic image.

With the addition of a shot taken straight up and one taken straight down (the poles) you could then do the clever bit which was using software to “bend” this image so that it effectively lined the inside of a virtual sphere – Image Assembler can’t do this alone but PTGUI can.

An image showing how images can bend to line a virtual sphere.

Instead of stitching lots of images taken from the same lens, This image shows a camera that Google uses to photograph their street view images.commercial cameras were developed that had lens arrays i.e. a series of lenses facing in different directions so that all viewpoints could be captured in one go. This is the sort of technology that enabled Google Street View.

The next stage in the evolution was to use multi-array cameras to shoot in all directions from a moving point and this is how a 360-degree video is created. There is a variety of camera and software options that are within the reach of most small businesses (read more about your options here) and you can share 360-degree videos via YouTube and now Facebook. In fact, you have been able to share this format on YouTube since March 2015 (Facebook since September 2015) and Facebook started testing 360-degree video adverts in November 2015.


The fact that Facebook has followed YouTube so closely in making this format available to its users shows just how they are seeking to take over as the video sharing platform of choice. They want their network to be the first place that you look for videos and as business owners, we should take this seriously. There is a small window in which the novelty factor of this format means that a 360-degree video will attract a lot of views but it is set to become the norm and to take advantage of this format for marketing purposes you will need to act quickly.

What to use 360-degree videos for:

If you are not quite ready to shoot in 360 but have an idea for your next marketing video, ask yourself whether uploading to YouTube is the right thing to do. You might get more views by sharing it on Facebook.

If you are interested in learning more about the process of shooting a 360-degree video have a look at this 360-degree video tutorial

What do you think of 360-degree videos? How do you think they will change marketing?

The Whats, Whys and Wherefores of Google+ in 2016


he whats, whys and wherefores of Google+ in 2016 image.

“I just don’t like Google+ It’s confusing”

“It seems like a random collection of apps that don’t really work well together”

“It does what other social networks do but not as well as they do it”

“I don’t like the circles thing – I just want to follow people by clicking a button”

Just some of the comments that we have heard in the past about Google’s much-maligned social network Google+. We can’t have been the only ones hearing this though because back in November Google carried out a major overhaul of Google+ and they have addressed (most) of the issues raised above.

A screenshot showing the 'post' page on your profile on Google+.The new look is more streamlined and sleeker. It is now based around topics and interests with collections and communities given far more prominence. The whole user interface appears to have been redesigned with mobile devices in mind and, in fact, there are some features (such as the creation of events) that are only available in the mobile app.

Major changes to Google+

The main menu icon that you clicked in the top left of your screen to reveal navigation links has changed the way it works. Now click it once to reveal the menu and once to hide it – no more sliding out when you hover over it. 

The introduction of a new post “action button”. This hovers in This image shows the new post action button that is now on Goggle+.
the bottom right of your screen on the desktop version and
is a quick way to start creating a new post.

Removal of the link to pages from main menu – you now have to manage your pages via clicking on your profile photo in the top right. You will be directed to “
Google’s My Business” which is intended to be a single dashboard where you can manage everything about your business.

This image from Google+ shows the 'share' icons. The icons include Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and copy link.

Sharing has become more inclusive – you can now share to Twitter etc. or easily get a link to the post to share elsewhere. Just look for the share icon which is also new to G+

Removal of events and hangouts from the desktop version – Google Hangouts is now “hangout” at a new dedicated location


Removal of certain photo editing capabilities – Google photos is now a standalone app and not part of G+ though you can still share photos that you upload to Google Photos on G+ easily.

Changes to Google+ Local Pages

Google local pages are more or less no more. Google has changed the way that it approaches local business information. Users no longer create a local page in Google+ instead they use “my business” to create locations for the business.

This image displays how Google+ displays the apps that are available such as maps, YouTube, AdWords, and Photos.For example, if you were a business with several branches you would create locations for each of these branches in my business and enter relevant details for each e.g. opening hours and contact details. This information is used to supply locally relevant search results when users search using the Google search engine.



Interestingly, when you create a location in My Business, a much slimmed down version of a G+ local page is created for that location through which you can access the reviews etc.

This image shows search results on Google to show how local businesses that are registered on Google+ are located Confused? You wouldn’t be the only one. The main difference is in where the data is entered.  Google wants you to view all Google apps together as one “place” so by entering the data in your My Business dashboard you are sharing it with all Google apps – maps, search, G+ etc.


Mobile Responsive

The new user interface is a responsive design and will adapt nicely to smaller screen sizes. This and the fact that some functionality is only available in the Android app shows that Google wants to encourage us to use G+ via mobile. The cynics among us may feel that this is because mobile use allows them greater access to information about you which they can then use to keep their search results (and advertising) relevant and highly targeted.  

So, Should You Use Google+ to market your business? As with much of social, I think it depends on:

  • It is a must for local businesses to use ‘my business’ to ensure you appear in search. 
  • If you are a business which has niche products / services have a look at ‘collections’.  This allows you to group your posts together around a common topic.  Others can follow your collection – it is an opportunity for you to become known as an expert in your niche.  
  • If you are a business which appeals to a niche audience – have a look at ‘communities’.  Communities allow you to create groups of engaged people who want to talk about your products / services
  • If you produce content, consider using Google+ to share your content – it appears to affect search results.

In summary, Google+ has been reinvented and is worth another look during 2016 – particularly to hold conversations about a topic and tap into a relevant audience.

What do you think about the new Google+? Are the changes for the better?


Study an Accredited Social Media Qualification and Take Your Career to the Next Level in 2016


I was recently asked by somebody what makes our City and Guilds Diploma in Social Media for Business qualification different from all of the other social media courses that you can find online. As I was writing an email to answer this question, I started to think that it might be a good idea to also share this information as a blog post.

Accreditation – why is it important?

Many of the courses that you can find are not accredited with a reputable awarding body. This effectively means that the provider can put in whatever they want and there is no real quality control. You will often get a “completion certificate” issued by the provider rather than a nationally recognised qualification which is aligned to the qualifications and credit framework. Prospective employers want to know that there has been a certain degree of rigour and professional verification involved in the qualification that you have gained and this is where the stamp of approval from an awarding body is extremely important.

Our Diploma in Social Media for Business is accredited with City and Guilds and satisfactory completion of the course leads to a recognisedcity and guilds qualification – a Level 3 City and Guilds Diploma. Concise Training’s Mary Thomas create the first accredited social media qualification in the UK (ITQ Social Media Certificate) and City and Guilds asked Mary to help create the units and criteria for the Diploma.

You can see Mary speaking at the launch of the City and Guilds Diploma in Social Media for Business here.

Designed and Supported by Qualified Trainers

The resources that we use to deliver the Diploma in Social Media for Business were designed and created by qualified trainers and whilst it is a flexible distance learning qualification, it comes with unlimited tutor support from qualified training professionals. There are monthly online webinars where you are able to discuss your questions with tutors and other learners. You are not just left to “get on with it” on your own. Your tutor is there to support you and not just to mark your work.  When your work is marked you receive personalised, individual feedback targeted to extend your learning and the use of social media within your business environment.

The learning resources are very practical and start from a point assuming that you have little or no knowledge of using social media for business but quickly move on to more advanced use. You will learn how to use features of the different social networks but also why you should and what to do with them!   You can immediately apply what you have learnt to your marketing.

Feedback from past learners couldn’t have been better and many say that they have learned a great deal even though they thought they knew what they were doing on social media beforehand. 

Up to Date Resources

The resources used for the qualification are online modules, accessible from desktop, laptop and tablet computers and covering different aspects of social media. These are updated every 6 months which is necessary due to the constantly evolving nature mobile devicesof the social networks. The fact that the course resources are updated like this means they stay relevant and current. This is one of the main reasons that Further Education colleges and national training providers choose us to either deliver their social media courses on their behalf (we deliver the Diploma in Social Media for Business as part of apprenticeship schemes) or they licence our materials for use under their own brands. Our materials are licensed and used by training providers in some very exotic places including the Cayman Islands!

Reviews and Feedback

Feedback from our learners has been extremely positive. Both the reviews that are left on our website (which you can view here) and feedback provided by students to the training providers and colleges for which we deliver the qualification, show that the Diploma is enjoyed and valued by all that take it.

What Next?

We have several intakes for the Diploma each year and our next intake starts on 15th February 2016 and runs for 12 months.  Flexible payment plans are available if you contact us.

We have an informational webinar on 1st February if you would like to experience our learning style.  Sign up here.

If you wish to know more about Concise Training, The City and Guilds Diploma in Social Media for Business or any of our other qualifications and courses, please feel free to contact us or leave your questions in the comments.

Why you should use the new LinkedIn App


Why you should use the new LinkedIn app icon.
Before Christmas, LinkedIn released a new version of their app – which I have to say is going to make a real difference to my use of LinkedIn – as it mirrors the desktop version much more closely.  The new LinkedIn app is split into 5 main sections:

The new LinkedIn app toolbar.


This is where you see updates from people in your network – it’s your ‘newsfeed’.  You can like, comment or share updates, in the same way, you can with the desktop version. 

The new look to the LinkedIn app shows new icons for likes, comments and shares on the news feed.



Home is also where you write a status update (use Share at the top of the screen), add links or photos in the usual way.  You can also mention other LinkedIn members using ‘@’

The top of the newsfeed on the new LinkedIn app. This is where you would input a new status update.

Choosing the photo icon (either when you have pressed Share or using the photo option on the top right of the screen) allows you to either select a photo that you have already taken, or allows you to take a photo in real-time – handy if you want to share what you are doing in real time.

Be aware that you can’t write a new LinkedIn published post using the app.


This section has a number of purposes:

This image shows the 'Me' page on the new LinkedIn app.


  • Show a list of who has interacted with your posts (don’t forget to reply to comments) or viewed your profile (the main page) 
  • Show who has viewed your profile – remember, free accounts can see the last 5 people (click Who’s viewed your profile)
  • Show your activity – what you have liked, shared, commented on and what you have shared and who has liked, commented, shared (click on who’s viewed your share)
  • Show your published posts – (click on who’s viewed your share and then click posts).  You can reshare these with your network or as a private message.
  • Edit aspects of your profile (click on the > next to your name at the top).  Click on the pencil to edit each section.  If you scroll down on this section, you will also see who else people viewed (as well as your profile), which can pop up some interesting names. :)
  • Click the Gear at the top right-hand corner to change your settings.  If you sync your calendar, LinkedIn will give you information about the people you are about to meet.


LinkedIn has improved their messaging service on the desktop and this improvement is also shown on the app.  A list of individuals you have messaged or have messaged you is shown.  Clicking on an individual shows you the full conversation and allows you to type a message (including a  photo if required).  Unlike the desktop version, you can’t include documents as attachments.

My Network

Display work anniversaries or birthdays from your connections.  You can like, comment, say congrats or swipe to skip.

This section also displays a list of people you may know.  If you click the Connect button, an automated invite will be sent.  If you click on the individual’s name, it will display their profile.  Clicking on the Connect button, will send the automated invite.  If you click on the three dots on the top right, you can personalise your invite.


This section allows you to search for people, jobs and more.

What’s Missing?

The obvious section that is missing is the ability to handle Company pages.  Groups and Job Search are separate LinkedIn apps, but apart from that I’d say this is a vast improvement to using LinkedIn on a mobile device – what do you think?

Are you in Facebook’s local directory for businesses?


Are you in Facebook's local directory for businesses?

Have you seen the new Facebook functionality to search for local businesses or services?  This is a really interesting development by Facebook and something all local businesses need to be aware of.

Using a desktop and the following link, you can search for a number of different types of services in a town (e.g. automotive repair, hair salon, event venue, interior designer).  Over 85, business types are suggested at the bottom of the page and more when you start typing into the search box.

A list of pages near the town is returned ranked by the best reviews and ratings as well as your previous interactions with the page or your friend’s interaction with the page.

The results display businesses’ contact information, hours and excerpts of reviews.  A map is also shown to indicate where businesses are located.

This is a search that I did for hair salons in my hometown.  I actually use a different hairdresser – who might miss out if this search facility becomes widely used!

 Facebook local business directory search results

Local business owners should act now:

  • Create a local Facebook page for the business (or check existing ones to make sure that it accurately represents the business)
  • Work towards getting reviews and ratings
  • Keep the page updated to encourage your audience to engage

Do let us know if you would like help with managing your Facebook page – either through one of our Facebook workshops or e-learning courses or through our social media management services.

Are you overwhelmed with digital marketing?


When I’ve been out and about recently, I’ve heard several people say they know they should be using digital technologies to market their business, but even if they do have a strategy (which many still don’t) they are finding it all a bit overwhelming. I can understand this – there are so many people saying you should be using this channel or that channel it can get very confusing, be time consuming and difficult to know which is the best option.

I think there is a minimum you should do, whatever business you are in:

1. Optimised website


A website is central to everything you do and will be the place customers find you or the place customers check you out before working with you. Your website must be optimised both for your keyword phrases and for mobile viewing.

2. Email newsletters

email-buttonI’m still amazed how many businesses I talk to don’t use a newsletter to regularly keep in touch with customers. Your subscriber list is owned by you (as opposed to another channel) and offers you an opportunity to regularly talk to people who have opted in. You can see who opens newsletters and who clicks on links and follow up appropriately.

A newsletter dropping into their inbox is often the reminder people need to get back in contact.

3. LinkedIn or Facebook

linkedinLinkedIn is a fantastic tool, particularly for B2B businesses and this database of potential contacts is just amazing. However, I can appreciate it isn’t always the right tool for B2C businesses – so I offer Facebook as an alternative. I don’t mean just have a profile though.  Actually use the tool by sharing interesting or useful information. You all know an incredible amount of information about your business or industry. Share your knowledge at least once a week.

4. Added value content

social word cloudCreate regular, useful content that you can share with your audience. You may want to use a blog post or create short videos, create infographics or Slideshares (you could even reuse the same content in all these different formats) it will depend on your audience and what you have got to say. Content should be high quality, relevant and planned.  Once you have created the content, distribute it on each of your channels.

5. Use one other channel

twitter and facebookSelect and use one other channel that is relevant to your audience. If you sell products, you may want to use Instagram to share high quality, aspirational images of your product in action, if you want to converse with influencers or journalists, then Twitter may be the one for you. If you are a B2C business, consider Facebook, if you are B2B, consider SlideShare or blogging.

So in summary, I would recommend you use a few digital marketing channels really well rather than spreading yourself too thin and always ensure you plan you activities against your overall objectives.

Crafting The Most Engaging Content



September has been and gone and we move into autumn – a time of year that can be visually stunning with the changes in the colours of trees and shrubs to their autumn browns and yellows.

Oct15_inset_contentWe associate these colours with autumn and this is often reflected in collections of clothes that are released around this time of year and the images we see in the media. This association between certain things and certain visual stimuli can be a powerful tool in the marketer’s arsenal and we can use it to produce engaging visual content on social media.

There has been a lot of research over the years into the way that our brains process visual information. For example, Gregory showed that 90% of visual information is lost by the time it reaches our brain so we fill in the blanks based on past experience and prior knowledge. We can use this in the design of our content by using obvious and meaningful headlines and captions to set expectations.

Also, because people expect to see certain TRAFFIC LIGHTcolours used in certain situations – traffic lights being an extreme example, don’t vary too much from the colours that people would expect.

There has also been extensive research into colour perception and the ability to remember information presented in different colour combinations. In 2011, Thomas Sanocki and Noah Sulman carried out a series of experiments; the results of which implied that people retain information better when it is presented using a limited palette of 2 or 3 harmonious colours. Bear this in mind when creating your content – use a limited range of harmonious colours as the overall theme and use contrasting colours sparingly.

The font or typeface used can also have a big impact on how people perceive your content. The work of Kevin Larson and Rosalind Picard showed that the font used affects how engaged the reader is with the work they are reading. It would take far more space than we have here to go into the detail of what makes for pleasing typography so we will save this for another blog post but there are some key points that are useful to the content marketer:

  • Use clear and easy to read font types – generally for content viewed on screen these are the sans serif fonts: aerial, verdana, Helvetica etc.
  • Space out your text and visuals, use white-space to separate characters
    Try not to place graphical elements in a way that will split paragraphs or sentences.
  • Certain fonts may be associated with certain things and this should be used for headlines etc.

So now you know how to show your content, what should you say to get the most engagement on social media?Oct15_inset_question

  • Visual content tends to attract more engagement than text alone. Colours and images can elicit an emotional response in the viewer and this is what leads to increased engagement.
  • On Facebook visual content representing shared experience (travel/events) does well
  • Product debuts and (you saw it here first) type posts attract a lot of engagement
  • Pairing a question and hash-tag with an engaging image can elicit the best response.
  • Use an image instead of text and let the user fill in the blanks
  • Be forward! Ask for opinions, questions and thoughts
  • Provide content that helps the reader and gives them value in return for taking the time to read it
  • Humour can be very successful but be careful how you use it. Sense of humour is a very personal thing.

So in summary if you want to produce the most engaging content, it should be helpful, original and not seen before elsewhere, visual – making use of a small palette of harmonious colours and using easy to read fonts, should represent shared experience and should be accompanied by a call to action – a question or request.

Please let us know what you thought of this post and share any tips that you might have in the comments.

Getting back into study mode – 8 tips for returning to study


Tips for studyingSeptember, with its connotations of ‘Back to School’, is traditionally the time to think about what you are doing, what you want to do and what training you need to get there. When you have been out of education for quite a while, it can seem daunting to return to study. Try these 8 tips to get you started this autumn.

No1Work out what your ultimate aim is – do you want to change career? Are you looking to certify your existing skills with a formal accredited qualification?  – An accredited qualification will come with inbuilt and verified quality and it may be more credible. Concise Training offer City & Guilds accredited qualifications as well as short unaccredited courses.

Identify courses that will satisfy this aim and suit you – do your research!  – For example, our ITQ Social Media Certificate is a practical “hands on” qualification and our Diploma in Social Media for Business is more marketing based.

No3Find out what time commitment the courses require from you and work out whether you can fit this into your lifestyle – we would encourage learners to commit around 10 hours per week to our Diploma but our individual unaccredited E-learning courses can give plenty of skills (without accreditation) and can be completed by a determined learner in just a couple of weeks.

No4Find out what the total cost of the course is and if you can spread the payments – Many providers (including Concise Training) offer payment plans to help you spread the cost of your qualification.

No5Research funding that may be available in your area – this changes regularly. At the moment, registered businesses can claim up to £500 towards the cost of our Social media for Business Diploma or you may want to consider a 24+ advanced learning loan to pay for it.

No6Plan ahead – decide when you want to start your studies. There is probably no point enrolling for a course if you are then immediately going away on holiday. Make sure your dates work with the provider.

No7Set yourself targets and organise a study schedule from the start – Perhaps you need to set aside an evening a week for study. Make a list of due dates for your course and tick them off as you submit the work. This will help to keep you motivated.

No8Build a support network around you – each of our distance learning qualifications and courses come with support from your tutor but you are also given access to a group forum where you can get in touch with others who are also doing the course. You can, of course, keep in touch with peers and your tutor on social media!

If you would like to know more about our E-learning courses and social media qualifications, please do get in touch.

Using creative content for social media


Searching for visual content

Using creative content for social media

We’re in the age of visual content marketing. With the sheer volume of activity on social media, it’s no wonder that people’s attention spans have reduced and we’re more likely to scan things to avoid content overload. Images on the other hand, can tell a story, provoke an emotional response and from a business point of view, develop brand recognition. You can also double your chances of exposure, as the image has separate metadata from the text (but that’s a topic for another day).

Earlier this year, Hubspot released some interesting statistics about the power of visual marketing. Read more.

  • Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites and 150% more retweets.  (Source)
  • Images and photos are the most important tactic in optimizing social media posts.  (Source)
  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. (Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco)

Where do you go to find images for your website, blog or update? It’s worth considering as you could unwittingly be breaking copyright law.

Many people think that because an image has been published on the web it is free to use.  This is a popular misconception because finding something on the internet does not mean it is in the public domain.  Work in the public domain applies to content where copyrights has expired, been forfeited, or is inapplicable.

What are the rules about copyright for creative content?

Copyright is a form of legal protection that is attached the moment piece of work is created (text, image, video and audio) and applies to both published and unpublished work. So, when you take a photograph, you immediately own the copyright to it. You don’t have to assign the circle c image to it, you don’t have to register it with an organisation, fill out forms or add a legal notice to the image for copyright to apply.

As copyright owner you have ‘exclusive rights’ which basically mean:

  1. Only you can reproduce the copyrighted work;
  2. Display the copyrighted work publicly;
  3. Create variations based on the copyrighted work; and
  4. Distribute copies of the work by selling, renting, lending or displaying the image.

You can give away or sell rights to the work. This is typically done via Creative Commons which is a standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your work.

There are six types of licenses ranging from allowing any type of use to setting certain permissions for changes and use. An Attribution license offers the most flexibility; it lets anyone use the image in the way they want, even commercially, as long as they give the originator the credit for the image.

It’s important to remember that content published online, including social networks is protected by copyright law and anyone who wants to republish an image should obtain permission from the original owner. Of course, it’s a reasonable expectation that that when content is published on social media it is going to be shared, retweeted or re-pinned and therefore, falls within the bounds of fair use. However, if you then saved the content to your desktop and uploaded it to your website, this would infringe copyright.

By its very nature, the internet is a difficult area to enforce copyright but businesses are far more likely to be pursued for legal claims if they break the rules.

Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Use a common sense approach to creating content
  • Take the time to create your own original content wherever possible
  • Share, repin or retweet content shared by the original rights owner
  • Ask permission from the content creator
  • Obtain the appropriate licenses for purchased content
  • Crediting someone for the work does not always negate copyright. If you are in any doubt,  seek legal advice or just don’t use it!

So how do you find images to enhance your content without worrying about permission and copyright?

Stock image sites are a great way to get access to copyrighted material and pay for the right to share it. When you use stock photography some rules may still apply from the content creator. For example if you see an image is labelled “Editorial use only” these typically include news and celebrity images, are not for commercial use.

Here are some stock image sites to consider:

Paid for image sources

And of course there are a myriad of stock photo sites to choose from for high quality paid for images.

Image creation tools

Canva – Easy drag and drop tool to create images using their extensive collection of graphics, photos, templates and fonts available, or you can upload your own images.

Pablo  – Similar to Canva, select from a range of background images and fonts to quickly create engaging images.

Pic Monkey – Photo editing tool that also enables you to create text and photo combinations to enhance social media posts. Requires a paid for membership.

Skitch – Screen capture and annotation tool via Evernote.

Finding licensed free images online

You can use the main search engines to help you find images you can use for free.

Google Images: Search using keywords as normal and when the results and returned click “Search tools” and then “Usage Rights”. This then gives a dropdown menu with various licensing options.

Search tools

Flickr has similar functionality.  Again, search for images using a keyword or phrase then click  “Advanced Search”, tick the box “Only search within Creative Commons licensed content”.

Concise Social Media – Of course, if you don’t have the time or inclination to create branded images to enhance your updates take a look at our content management packages and design services. More

Introduction to Concise Social Media


Concise Social MediaConcise Training has been offering social media training services since 2009.  As you know, we offer face to face training (either workshops or bespoke at client site), City & Guilds qualifications and E-Learning courses.  As some of you may not know, for the last two years we have also been offering a social media content management service for clients.

This service was introduced to fulfil the requests we received from clients who have grown as a result of our training.  We frequently find that we are also asked to get things going for clients while they test which social media marketing mix is appropriate for them and ultimately help clients to take it back in-house by training their staff and offering a consultancy service. Throughout our content management services, our emphasis is on engagement through the use of relevant content, questions and high quality, interesting images.

During 2015, my team and I have become more structured and reflective in our approach to our own marketing – making sure that our digital advertising, networking, newsletters and search engine optimisation appeals to our defined audience.

During my face to face networking events, in particular,  I became very conscious that I was known as Concise ‘Training’ and the additional message of offering content management was getting lost.  As I am keen to grow both sides of the business so we can offer a complete digital and social media marketing service to clients, we decided it was time to develop the social media content management side of the business in its own right.

Inevitably these things takConcise Social Mediae a while to acomplish especially when they are being done whilst maintaining our high-quality service to existing clients and the process of launching a new brand has many steps. However, I’m delighted to finally announce that our new website Concise Social Media is now live and ready for visitors.  We would love to know what you think. We have had very positive feedback so far and a better appreciation of the extent of the services we can provide.

During the next six months, we will be developing the Concise Social Media brand further and helping it to stand on its own within the Concise Training family.  It will still provide a service that is personal and affordable and will continue to able to draw on the considerable knowledge gained from Concise Training’s work with a variety of digital marketing channels, sizes of business and industry sectors.

Eventually, we will separate social media updates, newsletters and blog posts, but for now, we are keeping the two together – yes to make it more efficient to manage but also to use the trust and credibility that we have built for Concise Training to promote the new Concise Social Media brand.

So what makes Concise Social Media different?  Well, many of the benefits can be found on our website, but the highlights include:

  • As part of the Concise Training family, we have been using and training others in the use of the marketing channels for the past 6.5 years.
  • We firmly believe engagement is key to social media success and is the core of everything we do.
  • Your account manager and myself will work with you to identify specific, realistic aims for the digital marketing as well as the brand and voice of your business, creating a bespoke solution for your budget and audience.
  • You will be encouraged and helped to contribute to the content shared on social media – you know your business.  We will work with your content and make it more engaging,
  • Digital advertising campaigns can be created across the marketing channels if this is right for your business.  We will help you to target the campaigns and keep within a specified budget.
  • You will receive a monthly report so it is possible to track whether your aims are being met.

If you would like to know more, do have a look at our website or contact us for more details.

Business Lessons from Wimbledon


Living the BrandAs a big tennis fan, I was delighted to go to Wimbledon last Thursday, with centre court tickets obtained through the public ballot.  Apart from a great day out, I also came away with two important marketing lessons for small business:

Live your brand

I went to Wimbledon a few years ago – just as a ground pass. Another great day out, but I came away thinking that everything was very expensive and a bit over the top. This year, I had a different impression. Yes, things were a higher price – but the quality was also significantly higher than average (and last time). As an example, we brought a sandwich – definitely more expensive than the average sandwich (about £3 more) – but the sandwich was one of the nicest that I’ve had – I actually didn’t mind paying extra – and we brought another for dinner. It was very fresh and had loads of filling including good chunks of cheese. Differently a premium product.

This general premium theme was apparent throughout – plastic beer glasses looked as close to glass as you could get – toilets were plentiful and clean.  Yes, I had to queue for the ladies – but it was a smaller queue than I would expect for that number of people!

The premium brand was also reflected by members of staff.  Whether it was the stewards who opened the gates, directed people and ensured people only moved in and out of seats during the breaks or the people selling food and drink or the court teams who had to move visitors off reserved setting, everybody was friendly, helpful and cheerful.

However, Wimbledon is more than a premium brand, the traditions of the place are equally important and were clearly represented everywhere you looked.  The uniforms worn by the staff, the look and feel of the place and the inclusion of modern technology without intrusion, all reminded us that Wimbledon is a place full of history – but is moving with the times.

All businesses can learn from this.  You need to make sure you understand where your brand is positioned and ensure everything you do online and offline represents the brand accurately (whether it is premium, affordable, everyday, basic, etc.)

Take a strategic approach

As I’ve said, a few years ago I went to Wimbledon on a ground pass – joining the queue at 7 am.  I’m not going to lie, it was a delight to have tickets and to be able to just walk into the site.  We did walk around the courts to soak up the atmosphere, but it was fantastic to be able to get to our seats on Centre Court when we were ready.

It struck me walking around that those using a ground pass needed to have a strategy to approach the day.

  • They could look at the order of play for the day and focus on one court – queuing to get seats at the court – and then staying there once they had the seats.  They would see quite a bit of tennis – but perhaps not all the ‘best’ matches.
  • Alternatively they could move from court to court snatching small snippets of tennis as they went, always standing and perhaps not seeing very much. However they would get an overview of what was going on in the main matches – and catch glimpses of the stars.

This seems a perfect analogy for how some businesses are approaching their social media marketing.  Some are using a few channels and taking a long-term approach to achieve results. Others are moving around, trying different channels and hoping they hit the right contact. Which approach do you take?

Do contact us if you need training to develop a social media strategy or contact our new sister brand Concise Social Media if you would like to outsource your social media.

Have you got any sporting analogies that you can share to help us all develop better business?  Do add them to the comments below.

BFA Annual Conference and The Bookkeepers Conference – My Experience


BFA Conference and The Bookkeepers ConferenceAs you may know, last week, I was speaking at both The Bookkeepers Conference and the British Franchise Association Conference.  I think it is an interesting exercise to compare the two conferences and pick out lessons I learnt from each.

Bookkeepers Conference Twitter

The Venue and Facilities

As it happens, both conferences were in Birmingham.

The Bookkeepers Conference, with about 150 delegates, was held at St Johns Hotel, Solihull.  A great venue, easy to find and with plenty of parking; it had a large main theatre and several small theatres. Endless tea and coffee during the day was definitely a bonus and a buffet lunch was a mixture of sandwiches and buffet items.

The British Franchise Association Annual Conference, with about 250 delegates, was held at the International Conference Centre in the centre of Birmingham.  I took the train and walked to the venue – I didn’t fancy parking in the centre of town.  Once I had found the right part of the Conference Centre, the facilities were great – though personally I found tea and coffee in short supply throughout the day.  The main auditorium was amazing – comfortable seats and a massive screen with good lighting.

Thanks must go to the AV guys at both venues who did a great job sorting out slides and organising microphones for the speakers.

The Speakers

One of the great things about attending these conferences as a speaker was to be able to listen to the other speakers.  I only attended the British Franchise Conference for the first day, but all the speakers were interesting and were well received by the audience.  I particularly enjoyed the talk by Karl Sandall and his team about the franchise assisted management buyout of Tax Assist.

The bookkeepers conference speakers were equally interesting.  The lessons about using menu pricing from Kris McCulloch of Ayrshire accountancy and were applicable to many sectors and whoever knew VAT could be as much fun as  Nicola Cadwallader FCCA AIIT CTA, and Fred Cowgill made it.

Lessons I learnt from my speaking slots

So how did my speaking slot go in each of the talks?  In both cases, the talks seemed to be well received – lots of positive Twitter comments anyway!  At the Bookkeepers Conference, I spoke for 30 minutes about creating a social media strategy and at the British Franchise Association, I spoke for 60 minutes about making use of your LinkedIn profile.

British Franchise Association Conference Twitter

What went well?

  • I included my Twitter handle on each slide which made it easy for people to tweet about what I was saying.  I know when I was listening to other speakers, I found it difficult to tweet because I wasn’t sure of their username.
  • I had created a download that linked to my talk that delegates could download from my website.  For the Bookkeepers conference, I had called it and for the BFA conference, it was – this was similar to the hashtag that the conferences used so was memorable.
  • I have had many Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections and emails as a result of the talks – so definitely worth doing.

What would I do differently?

  • I made a last minute decision to collect business cards of bookkeepers who wanted me to send them the download – just as well I did.  I might create a paper sign up to put on tables in the future.
  • I would make it clearer if I needed wi-fi access during the talk.  It wasn’t easily possible for the AV team to change the setup to allow mouse control and internet at the podium – fortunately it wasn’t a problem as I had taken screen shots as a backup.
  • I would attach the box that came with the microphone to the back of my trousers rather than the front so I wasn’t quite such a strange shape in the pictures!

Overall I enjoyed attending and speaking at the conferences – and I would like to do more during the coming year, so do let me know if you hear of any other opportunities.

Please share your experiences of the conferences in the comments below.



Using hashtags at conferences


Using hashtags at conferencesI was delighted back in February to be asked to be a keynote speaker at The BookKeepers Conference on 22nd June in Birmingham.  I have the after lunch slot speaking about how and why bookkeepers should take a strategic approach to social media marketing. I think there are a few places left if you would like to attend.

Mike has done some interesting work in marketing the conference – creating videos of the speakers on his BookKeepers Conference YouTube channel.  Have a look at my video::

Of course, Mike and all the speakers and presenters have also been talking about the conference on Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media channels.  On Twitter, we have been using the hashtag #bfconf.

There was a conversation about which hashtag we should use.  It needed to meet the following criteria:

  • Be relevant
  • Be short
  • Be easy to remember
  • Be unique

We played around with a few ideas, but #bkconf seemed to work best.  By the way, to use a hashtag you just need to include the letters and/or numbers in your tweet.  (Back when I first started to use Twitter in 2009, you needed to register a hashtag, but that just isn’t practical anymore).

If you are not able to make the conference, do follow the hashtag #bkconf on Twitter (just do a search or look at the Twitter feed below) to see what people are saying.

I will be encouraging the audience to tweet about any tips they pick up during my talk.  It can be quite distracting for a presenter to see people using their phones during your talk – but the benefits outweigh the distraction.  Using a hashtag is a great way to allow more people to benefit from your speakers before, during and after the event.

I will also be using the hashtag to talk about a special download available from Friday – so do keep an eye out to make sure you don’t miss out. Either watch the Twitter feed (as shown below) or why not come along in person?

Of course if you are going to be there, do come and say Hello!

No result could be fetched.


Nimble plus Zapier = create tasks automatically


Nimble and Zapier Stellar CRM

Link Nimble with Zapier to create the ultimate CRM system

As you will know from our previous blog posts, we like Nimble here at Concise Training. It is a powerful CRM system that has a wealth of great features that makes working in teams much more effective (we recently wrote about the powerful Nimble contact search function). However, there are one or two desirable features that are currently missing and here we discuss ways that third party tools can be used to overcome these minor issues.

Automatic task creation

One of the great features of Nimble is the ability to create tasks and assign them to others. These tasks can be linked to individual contacts. For example, you might want to create a task to give Joe Bloggs a call on a certain date about the proposal that you sent him. This is a very useful feature but wouldn’t it be more useful if Nimble could create such a task automatically depending on the type of contact that you have added to it? This is feature that we believe has been requested and that Nimble are currently working on but at the time of writing it is not yet available. This would be useful if, for example, you were adding a new contact record set to a particular lead type or status. Perhaps you want to create a task/reminder to call that person when the lead status is “qualified” but not when it is “unqualified”. This can’t currently be done by Nimble alone but by linking your Nimble account to Zapier you can automate several aspects of using Nimble including this one.

If you have not already got a Zapier account then sign up here.

First you will have to authorise Zapier to work with Nimble. From your dashboard click on the small down arrow next to your profile picture and select “connected accounts”:

zapier connected accounts menu

Then from the left hand side of the screen choose the drop down for “connect new account”. When you click on this drop down a menu will appear and you will need to select Nimble from the list of available apps. Look for the Nimble logo.

Zapier select app menu

Clicking on the Nimble logo will then take you through a series of easy to follow steps to authorise Zapier and Nimble to work together – you will need your Nimble sign in information.

Once you have connected Nimble you can create your “zap” which is a bit like an “IF THEN” statement. From the top menu click “make a zap” and choose Nimble as both the Trigger and Action apps:

zapier trigger app menu

You will be prompted to choose the trigger to use. There is only one trigger available for Nimble and that is the creation of a new contact.

You will get to choose from a selection of actions that should take place when a new contact is added to Nimble. We are going to select “Create Task”:

zapier setting action

Clicking “continue” a couple of times will bring you to step number 4 where you can add some filters to your zap.

Zapier adding filters

Your selection here depends on what you want to trigger your task creation. You can select from a long list of fields that are available in a Nimble contact record:

zapier adding custom filters

For this example we would choose the field “Lead Status”, condition “Text Exactly Matches” and value “Qualified”. A trigger would then only fire for a new contact that is given the lead status “Qualified” in Nimble.

Clicking continue takes you to step 5 where you can specify the content of the task that Zapier will create for you:

Zap creation screen 5

You can pull in data from the Nimble contact record by using the “insert fields” buttons so for example, you might want the subject of your task to say “Call XXXXXX” where XXXXXX is the contact’s name:

zapier adding the nimble task subject

You might also want to set a due date that is calculated relative to the date of the contact’s creation. So if you want to make the due date 48 hours after the date the contact was created:

zapier Nimble task due date

You can customise Nimble to easily change or add fields that can be assigned to contacts so together with Zapier you can create tasks automatically if your specified conditions are met.

Using Zapier and IFTTT with Nimble to automatically add contacts to a Twitter list

IFTTT is a service that works in a similar way to Zapier but it does not link to Nimble directly. It does however allow the addition of people to a Twitter list – something that Zapier is unable to do. By using both in combination, you can automatically add new Nimble contacts that have a Twitter account in their record to the relevant Twitter list depending on your specified conditions.

For this one you first need to create a zap that will email you when a new Nimble contact is created containing a Twitter account. The zap will need to pass certain fields from the Nimble record into the email subject and main body and then an IFTTT recipe can use this email as an input to add the Twitter account to a certain Twitter list.

To set this up takes a few steps and there is not enough room here to explain all of them but if you would like to know more about how to do this, please let us know in the comments and we will look at putting together another blog post on the subject. Also, please let us know if you have used Nimble and Zapier together to automate other tasks.

How to measure social networking


How to Measure Social NetworkingIf you are using social networking on your own behalf or on behalf of clients, it is really important you regularly measure the impact of your updates against your marketing aims. In this post, we are considering the use of social networking as a marketing tool – not as a customer service tool.  We are also not covering the obvious need to measure digital advertising.

Marketing Aims

It is important to make sure that your marketing aims are realistic I often get clients tell me that they want to see direct sales as a result of time spent on social networks. In reality, this can sometimes be difficult to prove in isolation. Social networking may be one of the touches that you have with a customer.  The social proof caused by social networking may send a prospect to your website to find out more about you or may prompt them to download an article or sign-up to your newsletter. Down the road when the visitor contacts you, the original contact via social networking might have been forgotten – or might have been a while ago.

So what should we measure?

I believe that social networking success comes from people engaging with your posts. This has the effect of spreading your message and creating that social proof (the more people who positively engage with you, the better the impression of your brand). You should create a dashboard that measures the monthly increase in:

  • contacts
  • engagement and reach
  • individuals who took action as a result of your social networking.


This is simply the number of Twitter followers, Facebook likes, LinkedIn contacts and LinkedIn follows you are achieving each month.  If the business and its employees are actively following and connecting to more relevant people according to a planned follower strategy, you would expect to see an increase in organic number of followers. There should also be an increase if you are sharing interesting, helpful and relevant content. Remember, you want relevant contacts – there is no value in purchasing followers.

Engagement and Reach

Engagement is the number of likes, comments, mentions, shares (or retweets) an update receives.  Monitor the numbers monthly and also identify which types of updates are getting the most engagement – so you can do more of these. The reach should also be measured – the more engagement an update receives – the more people will see it – the higher the reach.  Each of the social networking channels has tools to help measure engagement and reach.


Individuals can see the number of likes, comments and views of published posts by clicking Profile > Who’s Viewed Your Profile > Who’s viewed your posts

On your LinkedIn home page, the number of people who have viewed your latest status update is displayed.

LinkedIn Status update views

The Analytics tab on your company page shows the number of impressions, clicks, and interactions of each post on the company page.

The Notifications tab on the company page shows who has liked, commented or shared individual posts.


Facebook Insights on a Business page shows all sorts of useful information.  The Posts tab shows how much engagement and reach each post has received.


If you sign up for Twitter ads (which will mean that you have to give your credit card details), you can view the reach each tweet has received within Click on the graph icon under a tweet to see the reach and engagement of the update.

Twitter Reach

This information is available for all tweets by looking at Twitter Ads > Analytics > Tweet Activity as discussed in a previous blog post.


This will depend on the content that you are creating on social media and what action you want people to take.

Do you want people to visit your website?  Then include links to your website in an update with a compelling call to action and use Google Analytics to measure the visits to the appropriate pages from social networking.  Also, look at what your visitors do then – how effective is the page at keeping the visitor engaged and do they move to other pages on the website?

Do you want people to sign up for the newsletter, download a document, watch a video, sign up to a webinar, use a voucher code or ultimately purchase a product / service?   Then measure the signups on each of these individual actions using Google Analytics or other relevant tools.

What about sales?

If you ultimately want to see sales from your marketing, you need to understand the decision processes your audience will take to make a purchase.  This often depends on the cost of your product or service.

Individuals may spend an impulsive £10 or £50 as a result of something they have seen on social media, but in general, people are not using social networking to buy, so larger purchases are likely to take more work. In this case, social networking should be used as a trust building and lead generation tool and the start of the buyer journey.  If you can use social networking to encourage somebody to hear more from you by getting them to sign up to a webinar or a newsletter; make a personal connection on LinkedIn; or take a phone call; you have now opened the door to keep them engaged and move them through the buyer journey.

In summary

Your social network marketing is going to take time – but it gives you a unique opportunity to offer valuable content to a large number of people, establish social proof, and move large numbers of  prospects through the buyer journey with the help of valuable, relevant, engaging content.

What do you think?  Do you have any measurement tips to share?  Under our Concise Social Media brand – we can help you manage your social media marketing..


How Accessible is Facebook?


Facebook Accessibility

A website is accessible when its information is equally available to all people, regardless of physical or developmental abilities or impairments. There are various things you can do to make your website more accessible including:

  • Use a clean, consistent design which will benefit people with learning or cognitive disabilities

  • Provide text equivalents (descriptions and alt tags) for pictures for people whoquestion mark use screen-reader technology to access the site

  • Include captioning on videos to benefit those people who are deaf or hearing-impaired

  • Design the site so that it can be navigated with keyboard controls

Taking the above into consideration, you might think that social networks like Facebook can’t possibly be accessible but they do provide a range of features designed to make them more so.

Facebook Keyboard Shortcuts

Did you know that Facebook has a number of keyboard shortcuts in case you don’t use a mouse?

First you have to find the right combination of keys for your browser –

Internet Explorer for PC: Alt + #, then EnterKeyboard

Firefox for PC: Shift + Alt+ #

Safari for Mac: Ctrl + Opt + #

Firefox for Mac: Ctrl + Opt + #

Chrome for Mac: Ctrl + Opt + #

Chrome for PC: Alt + #

Replace # with the relevant access key number (listed below).

Access Keys

The Access Keys let you jump from one page within Facebook to another with a key combination.

Facebook Keyboard Button0 – Help, 1 – Home, 2 – Timeline, 3 – Friends, 4 – Inbox, 5 – Notifications, 6 – Settings, 7 – Activity Log,
8 – About, 9 – Terms

There are also keyboard shortcuts that work for specific parts of Facebook:

News Feed Web Messenger

j and k – Scroll between News Feed stories

CTRL + g – Search conversations

enter/return – See more of the selected story

CTRL + q – Show/hide keyboard shortcuts

p – Post a new status

CTRL + Delete – Archive/unarchive conversation

l – Like or unlike the selected story

CTRL + j – Mark as spam

c – Comment on the selected story

CTRL + m – Start a new message

s – Share the selected story

CTRL + i – Go to Inbox

o – Open an attachment from the selected story

CTRL + u – Go to Other

/ – Search

q – Search chat contacts

? – Open a list of these keyboard shortcuts while in News Feed

Facebook also marks regions of the news feed and timeline with what are called “ARIA Landmarks”. These help to tell screen-reader software what the content of that region of the screen relates to – for example, a navigation menu may have the landmark role=”navigation” added to it.

Facebook also allows the user to alter their settings in ways which can make it more accessible to assistive technologies.

For example, the user may wish to stop videos from automatically playing in their timeline:

  1. From the top right of Facebook, click the small arrow and select SettingsFacebook Settings Arrow

  2. Click Videos in the left hand menu

  3. Click the dropdown menu next to Auto-play Videos and select “Off”

Facebook Video Settings

Surely though, most of Facebook is content added by its users so it can’t really be accessible can it?

Actually Facebook is able to generate a kind of alt-tag for images or videos uploaded to it by users based on any information that it can find when the image is uploaded. For example, if you tag a person or a place in the photo this might be used to create an alt-tag which can help somebody with impaired vision to interpret what the image is about.

Arguably Facebook has tried to do its bit and they do have an accessibility team who work on improving Facebook’s accessibility but it is also up to the users to make the content they are posting as accessible as they can. Top tips for making your Facebook posts accessible to as many people as possible include:

* Add a captions file to any videos that you upload:

To add captions to a video as you upload it:

  1. After you click Post, click Edit This Video.

  2. Click Choose File to select a SubRip (.srt) file from your computer. You can add files in additional languages after you save the video.

  3. Click Save.

* Add a caption to any photos that you post.

A photo caption gives a text description for people who view it using a screen reader. You can add a caption easily by typing it in the “say something about this photo” field.

Do you have any tips for improving the accessibility of content on Facebook? Do you have experience of using assistive technologies such as screen reader software with Facebook? Let us know about your experiences.

Nimble CRM Powerful Contact Search


Nimble Powerful Contact Search

In our previous blog post about the Nimble CRM system, we gave you a brief overview of Nimble. Today we will look a little deeper into the use of tags and custom searches.

We introduced the concept of tags added to individuals’ nimble profiles in the last blog post. In Nimble they are entirely customisable, you can add any tag that you like and you can add as many tags as you like. With some careful planning, you can use the tags feature to create some powerful sorting and searchable categories of contacts.

For example, lets say we have previously added the tag “prospect” to some records (you can see an example of a tagged record below) and we want to search for a list of all contacts with this tag:

Tagged Nimble Record

Down the left-hand side of the contacts “home” page, you will see a column showing an A-Z list of your tags. Locate the tag you are looking for and click on this:

Nimble Tags List

and you will be presented with a list of all the contacts that you have marked with that tag. This can then be manipulated in a number of ways including bulk editing such as adding an additional tag to all those contacts or you can export the results into a CSV file which can be used to create a Twitter list – easiest to do this with Tweepi.

The search and sorting capabilities of Nimble are actually much more powerful than this. At the top of the contacts home screen, in the blue ribbon, there is a search box with an advanced search option.

Nimble search ribbon

The advanced search lets you create logical searches based on AND, OR, NOT logic and allows you to put together powerful custom searches. As a simple example, say we wanted a list of all contacts tagged with “prospect” that also have a Twitter and Facebook account recorded in their Nimble profile.

Clicking on advanced search will give the option to search for “people and companies”, “people only” or “companies only” – we will select “people”

Nimble People Search

The other fields of the advanced search can then be populated. We want to search for the tag “prospect” so we will make this selection in the search fields:

tag search

We also want to add two more conditions to our search – the records must have both a Twitter and a Facebook account entered. To add additional search conditions we click the + sign, choose the field that we wish to search for and by clicking on “contains” we are able to change the search behaviour for this field. Here we select “is not empty”

Nimble Searches

Repeating the procedure to add the search condition for the Facebook field:

adding facebook field

Now clicking search will return a list of all the contacts that have been tagged “prospect” and have both a Twitter and Facebook account recorded in their profile. I know what you are thinking…powerful, but a bit of a hassle doing this every time if the search is going to be used regularly. Well, the lovely people at Nimble thought of that too. When your search has been performed once, you get the option to save your search. This option will appear above the search results list:

nimble save search

and you can then name and store the search for you and your team to make use of. Saved searches are shown in a list down the left-hand side of the contacts home screen and simply clicking on the search name will perform that search again.

saved searches

When you consider that you can set up many saved searches, each highly customised, you can see that you can view a very specific category/demographic of your contacts quickly and easily. You can then keep tabs on the social media activity of these people using techniques covered in the last blog post. The fact that you can also add your own custom data fields into Nimble means that you can create a system that is very tailored to your business and the way in which you use this powerful CRM system.

There is a good explanation video for adding custom data fields to Nimble here.

Next time we are going to look at how Nimble can be linked to some third-party services to create an even more powerful CRM system.

Do you use Nimble CRM? Have you got any tips to share?

Is continuing professional development important to you?


Is continuing professional development importantI recently had a conversation with Gillian Shaw about the career developments that have taken place in her life as a result of her doing our social media courses through Pitman Training Group.continual professional development LinkedIn




This got me thinking of the importance of ensuring that we all look after our own personal learning – at whatever stage of our career we are at.  It is much easier to take the easy way out and just keep doing what you have always done without learning anything new, but does this bring self-satisfaction, interest or improvement?

Continuous professional development or training can be informal or formal.  You may do informal cpd all the time – at networking events – listening to presentations or just by reading articles online or a regular basis.  However, I would strongly recommend that you regularly plan to do some formal CPD with defined learning outcomes based on your individual needs.  Doing some structured learning can give you a real sense of achievement, can give your brain something else to think about and, if relevant to your job gives you an opportunity to reflect on what you are doing and give you time and space to do it better.

Formal, structured training can cost money – in fact, I would suggest that if it is going to be relevant and informative it should cost money – but consider it as an investment in yourself or your employees and ultimately an investment in your business which will bring you a return in the form of more efficient and happier staff who can bring more skills and ultimately more profit to your business.

How much CPD you require may depend upon the field you are working in or your area of specialism, One of the things that I enjoy most about working with social media marketing, is that it is always changing – I have to spend several days each month updating myself on changes to the channels and tools and learning about different and innovative ways of doing things. Even so, I sometimes need to ‘think on my feet’ in the middle of a workshop when one of the channels has updated overnight!  (Not something that happens with my MS Office training!) ‘Content marketing‘ is a term that is used now as a trusted and regular form of marketing – but even 6 years ago, it wasn’t considered as something that everybody ought to be doing – it was only for big brands.  Although I’ve been working in the field for many years now, I’m currently taking a formal qualification in marketing to keep my skills fresh and bring new services to my clients.

You also need to be aware of the requirement for CPD to generally ‘keep up to date’ with developments it IT, business legislation and society.  Twitter and Facebook are becoming mainstream tools for personal and professional use.  These days most people need to consider how they are using the tools to market their personal and professional brands or how they are using the tools for learning. Think about how Twitter has been used during the recent election – it has not had as large an impact as it could have done – but the recent cabinet announcements have been made first on Twitter by @David_Cameron which is a quick, easy, direct way of getting the message out.  Do you need training to use Twitter to be able to receive information in this format efficiently and easily?

On the other hand, I don’t know if you saw the tweets by some Tory MPs after the election Question TIme? All the tweets mentioned ‘strong and commanding’ – not much personality there – no major damage to their personal brands – but perhaps if they had done some CPD they would have understood the importance of personality on Twitter!

So what CPD or training do you feel is important to keep you and your staff up to date? Do you carry out a regular training needs analysis or talk about CPD needs in annual review sessions?  Do share in the comments below whether you think CPD is important and what training you have done recently.


Are you using YouTube cards? They’re free!


Are you using YouTube cards?We all know that people like watching videos. Creating informative, funny, educational or ‘behind the scenes’ videos of your business increases your Internet footprint and is a fantastic way of engaging with your audience.

It can, however, be difficult to drive viewers to take the next step in your purchase funnel. Up to now, you have been able to include annotations with a link to your website or include the link in the description of the video. However, these always felt awkward and not easy to use for lead generation. They also didn’t work on mobile devices

Now, you can use YouTube cards to include a link to a page on your website – from the video on any desktop or mobile device and they are free for anybody to use so long as you have an account that is in ‘good standing’.

What cards can you use?

There are five types of cards available:

Merchandise Card – Link to an approved external site where you sell products (e.g. Google Play, Shopify, iTunes, etc.)

Fundraising cards – Link to an approved external fundraising site (e.g. kickstarter, subbable, patreon)

Video or playlist card – Link to another public YouTube video or playlist which will be of interest to the viewer.

Associated website card – Link to a page on an associated website.  This is the one that I will use most.

Fan Funding card – Let your fans show appreciation for your videos by making a money contribution directly on the video page.

How do I set up a card?

To set up a card:

1. Visit Video Manager

2. Edit the video you want to add cards to

3. Click Cards in the top tab bar

Video Card Menu

4. Click Add card

5. Click Enable (to accept terms and conditions and set an associated website in the case of a website card).  From then on, click Create.

7. Enter a valid URL that is supported for the chosen card.

8. Add an Image (square), a title (50 characters), call-to-action (30 characters) and teaser text (30 characters).

9. The teaser text will be displayed in the top right-hand corner of the video.

Video with card teaser

When viewers click on the teaser, the card is displayed (while the video is still running).

Video Card

The teaser is displayed on the top right of the video for a few seconds, it is then replaced by an ‘i’.

Video with card teaser hidden


10. A video can have up to 5 cards.  Each time the video is played, the teaser text from a different card is displayed.  Have a look at this in practice by watching this video.

How can I use cards?

  • Create cards that will send your viewers to appropriate pages on your website based on what your video is about.
  • Get viewers to sign up for your email newsletter in return for a download
  • Send viewers to additional content that is related to the subject of the video
  • Send viewers to a product or service page on your website. Include a discount code in the video card to encourage visits and help to track leads.

What do you think?

Are you going to change annotations to video cards?  How will you make use of them?  Do let me know in the comments below.

April Hot Topics – Google Search, New Survey, Buyer Personas


Google search, buyer personas hot topics

As part of the new content planning we have implemented within Concise Training, the 4th Tuesday of the month will be focused on talking about ‘Hot Topics’ in the world of social media and digital marketing. Each month, I will focus on discussing the implications of a topic that has been in the news or themes that have been consistently raised by clients during the month.

This week, I have a few different things I want to discuss – the impact of the changes in the Google search algorithm, results of a survey by Lloyds bank, and the importance of creating buyer personas when creating content marketing.

Google Search Algorithm

You are probably quite aware that Google has changed its search algorithm so that websites which are not mobile friendly will not feature so highly in search results on mobile devices. The change came into effect on 21st April and I know I got plenty of newsletters from people who wanted to tell me about it – I’m sure you did too.

So what have you done about it? The first thing is to check whether Google thinks your site is mobile friendly using this checker.

You may not have seen the effect yet – Google said it would take about a week to roll out to all sites. I guess the point here is that you need to know if and how the changes have affected how you site appears compared to your competitors – positively or negatively. By the way, do you religiously check each month where in Google search your pages are appearing for your keywords?

You can do this in a number of ways

1. Search for keyword phrases in an incognito browser window (in Chrome, click on the 3 lines on the top right and choose New incognito window). Choosing an incognito window won’t take your browsing history into account when displaying search results. If you do this each month and take a note where your website appears for keyword phrases, you can track any improvements. Of course, if it starts to fall down rankings or doesn’t appear on the first couple of pages, you might need to take action :-)

2. Look at Google webmaster for your site (you may need to set it up first). This will show you which keyword phrases are getting the most impressions and how your site is ranking for each keyword phrase. This will give you and idea of which pages you should be focusing your SEO efforts on as well as allowing you to track which keyword phrases you are ranking on.

Lloyds Bank Survey

Have you seen the results from the Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2015? It states that 77% of SMEs now have basic digital skills, but 58% of charities are still without basic digital skills. It is an interesting report and worth a read. Some highlights:

  • The annual average weekly spend online in 2014 was £718.7 million, an increase of 11.8% when compared with 2013
  • Digitally mature companies are one-third more likely to report an increase in their turnover.
  • Only 13% of organisations are using their website for e-commerce
  • 84% of SMEs or charities communicate online, but only 53% have a website
  • More than three-quarters of all SMEs and charities are not putting any budget into improving their digital skills

Buyer Personas and Content

When talking to clients, there has been a repeating theme this month surrounding content. It is always difficult to know what to say on social media, but fortunately people seem to be moving on from just using it to sell or promote themselves.

I’ve been talking to clients about creating buyer personas for each of their products or services. You should create a personality around each buyer persona and even give them a name – Tracey for example. Think about why Tracey might purchase your product and services and what are the problems and pain that you can solve for Tracey. Then all you need to do is create content aimed at Tracey which solves her problems or pain and distribute it in a way that Tracey will want to consume it.

Sounds easy, but sometimes difficult to do when you are so close to your products and services. Let me know if you need any help with this.


I hope that you have found something useful in our ‘Hot Topics’ this month – do let me know whether you have any questions or comments. Use the area below or drop me an email or social media update.

Affiliate Marketing – What is it?


Affiliate Marketing, What is it?

The idea of acting as an agent and selling somebody else’s products in exchange for sales commission has been around for a long time. Affiliate marketing in its current guise is a fairly recent idea which relies on the technology of the internet in order to track sales and referrals made by an army of business partners that would otherwise be too numerous to account for and track effectively.

What is affiliate marketing?

The idea is quite straight forward. A business joins or creates an affiliate scheme and produces links that can be tracked by them or an affiliate manager to see who has clicked on them and then go on and purchase. Normally, the business will supply a range of marketing images and copy that affiliates can use to promote their products on websites, blogs and newsletters. This is how it works.

Steve (customer) visits the blog written by Mary (affiliate) and clicks on a link to a product on Viv’s website. When Steve clicks on the link on Mary’s blog, a “cookie” (tiny bit of computer code) is set in Steve’s web browser.

affiliate marketing

and he is taken to the product on Viv’s website.

Affiliate Marketing 2

If Steve then makes a purchase, because of the presence of the cookie in his web browser, Viv is notified that she should pay sales commission to Mary.

Affiliate Marketing 3

It is possible to make a lot of money as an affiliate of a number of different programmes and it is a form of marketing used by many big businesses (such as Amazon) very successfully. Once an affiliate scheme reaches a certain size, the business will have to have dedicated departments to manage it or outsource management of the scheme but it is perfectly feasible to manage a small affiliate scheme “in-house” if you have the appropriate software. Most E-commerce software including WordPress with WooCommerce have a range of plugins for running an affiliate scheme. The most popular plugin for WooCommerce is Affiliates Pro.

Spreading the Word

The downside of running an in-house affiliate scheme is the need to spread the word to potential affiliates. There are different ways that you can reach out to people interested in affiliate marketing, social media being one of them, but it is a good idea to list your affiliate scheme in specialist directories and to discuss it with people in certain affiliate forums. Below you can see a list of affiliate directories and affiliate forums that we have started. Please add to this resource if you know of others.

Concise Training has an affiliate scheme to promote its online social media courses. Please see here if you are interested in becoming an affiliate for Concise Training and making some money by promoting our training courses to others on your website or blog.

E-Learning Development – 8 Lessons Learned


E-Learning Development 8 lessons learned

At the end of 2010, Di Dawson and I created the first accredited the first accredited Level 3 qualification in Social Media marketing.  Di had previously created a number of flavours of ITQ user e.g. ITQ for Accessible IT Practice and ITQ Mobile and together we created the ITQ Social Media which was certified separately by City & Guilds.

Our first learners, Lin MacDonald and Karen Chapple joined in January 2011.  We originally used the Moodle Learning Management System both as an e-portfolio system and as a method of learning.  We took the content from the workshops that I was delivering to businesses and created them as text objects within the Moodle. In retrospect this was quite a primitive approach, but a number of learners used the objects, along with individual Skype support and feedback to pass the qualification and go on to create successful businesses managing social media content for others.

During 2012, we felt that we needed to update the resources and this coincided with an approach by Pitman Training Group who wanted to use our learning resources for their learners.

Di and I spent the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, rewriting all the courses using Articulate Storyline to produce step by step, interactive courses to replace our Moodle learning objects – not an easy task I have to say and a task I definitely underestimated in terms of time!

The new look courses were launched in April 2013 and have been updated in June and December ever since.  The total number of courses has grown as new social media channels have been popular and additional courses were required to support additional qualifications. For example, the latest course is Digital Campaigns, available to learners on our Diploma in Social Media for Business qualification.

So what have we learned in the last couple of years?

1. Plan the object and content in Word or PowerPoint before putting it into the tool.
Sounds obvious, but I have a tendency to want to write the content in a number of layers.  Di then makes it interactive and far more visual!  It is easier for her to do this if the majority of the content is initially written outside the tool.

2. Consider what devices learners are using to access the learning
We redesigned our objects after the first year to allow them to be accessed on a range of mobile tablets.  We had to rethink how we were displaying videos, scroll down bars, and some of the interaction.  We also found differences between Android and iPad so do test on both – a good excuse to purchase more tech!

3. Use plenty of scenarios
We have found that scenarios work really well to illustrate a point and make the learning more business appropriate.  We have a number of characters who appear in all our courses, but the scenarios still work if the courses are done separately,

4. Get somebody else to proofread and check links and then do it again
We check every word and every link of our courses but have learned to now ask somebody else to check again. It is amazing how links that worked for me, just don’t work when somebody else clicks!

5. Create short videos to show technical features – and make sure you use the zoom!
We have learned that it is better to have 2 short videos rather than 1 long one. Not only as it is easier for the viewer, but also because it is easier to update when things change! Zooming is easy to forget when you are creating the video, but makes it much easier for the viewer to see what you are doing.

6. Make the learning personal
We have had great feedback on the e-learning courses partially because we use our own voices throughout the learning alongside photos of us. Learners feel they are being personally taught by me and Di. In fact, I’ve had learners say they feel they know me after they have completed the course.  We feel this makes the learning easier to digest and more engaging and relevant.

7. Use a combination of delivery methods
We try to combine audio, text, video, images, external links, scenarios and exercises in every course as well as interactive buttons, drag and drop functionality or text entry fields. Each screen (where possible) looks different to provide interest and keep the learner engaged.

8. Treat learners as adults and allow them to control their learning
I don’t know about you, but I hate being forced to take a particular path (in anything in life :-)).  I’ve seen many e-learning courses which force you to go from one screen to the next and even read the text on the screen for you.  We believe that our learners are adults and are quite capable of following direction and reading.  Learners can jump around the menu and audio is available on some screens – but to offer additional input, not to do the reading for the learner.  We know this means that it isn’t as accessible as it could be – and a job for the future may be to create fully accessible versions of the learning courses.

We are proud of our courses and I know our learners like them.  Do share your experience of creating or using e-learning?

April 2015 Social Media Updates


April 2015 Social Media UpdatesEvery month, I spend 2 to 3 days updating myself about the latest changes in social media.  I use this information when talking to clients, to help update our E-Learning courses and I create a document of updates to send to clients who belong to our social media professionals group. Clients in our social media professionals group also get the chance to talk to me about how the changes affect their business in our bi-monthly webinars.  Let me know if you would like to join our group.

On the first Tuesday of each month, I will now share a selection of the social media updates with my blog visitors.  Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog (on the right) if you would like to get these updates sent to your inbox.


Every month, I share statistics that I find interesting.  This month the Mckinsey research paper looked at how telecoms companies handled customer complaints and found that using digital gained higher levels of customer satisfaction.  However, a study by Simply Measured revealed only 30% of brands have a dedicated customer service presence on Twitter and the average response time is 5.1 hours.  As a small business, this gives us an interesting opportunity to make a difference from the big guys.  What do you think?


Inactive Accounts

Have you seen your Facebook likes on your fan page reduce recently? This might be because Facebook has removed inactive accounts from page likes.  It will mean that any advertising you target to your fans will be more accurate.

Multi-Product Ads

I like the look of the new multi-product ads that Facebook multi product adsFacebook has introduced to all
advertisers and are now available from the Facebook Power editor. You can create one ad which shows up to 3 products. Viewers can scroll through the products and click on the one they are interested in.

To create a multi-product ad, you need to use the Power Editor and create a campaign and Ad Set. Then create an Ad with the objective of clicks to a website or website conversions. Choose multi-images and create images and links for each of your products. Note the images need to be 600 x 600 pixels in size. Let me know if you need more information.


What do you think of the LinkedIn new look which has been rolling out over the last couple of months?  I must admit I’m not a big fan, but I guess our natural reaction is to dislike change! The only other main change this month is that the Outlook Connector link with LinkedIn has been discontinued in Outlook 2007 and 2010.


Big changes are coming to Google+. They have announced that they will be splitting the channel into 3 products – communication (including hangouts), photo and Google+ stream. No date has been announced as yet, but this sounds like a major rewrite – subscribe to our blog to make sure you know what the changes will mean for you.


I’m sure you’ve heard about the changes to Google search results. As from 21st April, Google will be using mobile-friendliness as a search ranking signal. In other words, if your website is not mobile friendly, you may be penalised in mobile search results. The Google announcement states that this change will have a “significant impact” on search results worldwide although it is important to note that this only affects searches from mobile devices; not desktop/PC.

You can check whether any website page is mobile friendly by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test


It looks like Twitter is getting ready for a change in advertising functionality. The Twitter policies have changed for using conversion tracking and remarketing advertising. If you use the Twitter website tag, you need to ensure you are providing your website users with “legally sufficient notice of the data usage associated with the Twitter Website Tag and instructions about how they can opt out of interest-based advertising.” You can find more here.

Did you hear that there were more than 1.5 million tweets about the UK leaders debate last week? An average of 8,657 tweets a minute. I must admit that I watched the Twitter stream while watching the debate – it added a comical element to the whole thing. Read some of the tweets on the BBC site.

Useful tools

Have you heard about Grammarly?  It is a Chrome add-in that claims to find 10x more mistakes in writing than your Word processor.  It checks status updates as well as blog posts.  I’m using it to write this post and it has found a few additional errors as I type.

I hope you have found this round up useful.  Do let me know in the comments below and, of course, do let us know if you would like to join our social media professionals group. This month our social media professionals group will be receiving a 12 page document of useful updates and our next webinar in May I will give practical personalised advice to all our members.

Why get an accredited Social Media Qualification?


Why get an accredited social media qualification

In Kevin Shively’s recent post, for Simply Measured, he talks about how social media is growing up and being taken seriously by companies of all sizes. He refers to the importance of social media being integrated into the digital marketing mix and the importance of metrics to “drive real value from social media, and become an invaluable part of the marketing organization”.

I agree with much of what Kevin says in his article, but he doesn’t address the need to educate and train people in the skills required to take an active and successful role in the industry. Digital marketing and social media in particular requires a combination of IT skills, marketing skills and the skills to research, adapt and innovate.

There are a number of courses available that offer a qualification in social media and digital marketing but they are not all accredited with an awarding body. What should you consider when looking for a course to suit your needs?

Quality of Learning

As Kevin said in his article, the digital and social media industry is still growing so any learning needs to be up to date.  What was true last year, may be the wrong message this year. Any course you take needs to be updated regularly and the awarding body should be ensuring that this takes place. Concise Training’s accredited qualifications – the ITQ Social Media and the Diploma in Social Media for Business are updated every six months (both learning and assessment resources are updated).

Method of Learning

Everybody learns in a different way. You need to be clear whether you like to read, watch videos or a combination of both. Do you want to attend regular face to face training courses, do you prefer to learn in your own time through e-learning or do you like to attend webinars? How interactive would you like any e-learning to be? Are you happy with PowerPoint slides and recorded audio or do you prefer to be able to be an active learner and experience different types of learning styles in one e-learning course? The ITQ Social Media qualification offered by Concise Training is delivered through interactive, multi-media E-Learning courses, the Diploma in Social Media for business is delivered through interactive, multi-media E-Learning courses and webinars.


How is the course accredited? Many courses are called ‘diploma’, but what does that mean? The advantage of an accredited course is that an industry recognised awarding body will have created a set of criteria that the course should meet. There will be quality processes in place to ensure the training provider delivers training and assessment that meets the defined criteria and the assessment is standardised across all training providers delivering the qualification. There is also the benefit to having a course from a recognised awarding body on your CV. All Concise Training qualifications are accredited by City & Guilds. In fact Mary worked with City & Guilds to create the units and criteria for the Diploma.

How are you assessed?

When you learn something new, it is important that you apply your learning. An accredited qualification is likely to require you to evidence that you have understood the learning. In my opinion, social media is a practical subject, not something to be remembered, so practical skills should form the basis of assessment rather than multiple choice or right/ wrong tests. Having taken the assessment, what sort of feedback will you get so that you can improve your learning even further? The ITQ Social Media qualification requires the completion of 20 practical tasks, the Diploma in Social Media for Business requires 11 assignments to be completed which evidence knowledge, application of principles to your situation as well as practical skills. Individual feedback is given on each assignment or task you complete.


What support is available if you don’t understand how to apply something to your situation? Can you call or email somebody to get advice appropriate to your situation? Is there a limit to the amount of support available? The qualifications offered by Concise Training both come with unlimited personalised support.

Level and Progression

At what educational level will the course be delivered and how does that suit your needs? There are accredited digital marketing courses available from level 2 (equivalent to GCSE) all the way up to level 6 (post degree). You need to consider what level you require for your needs. Do you need a practical knowledge of the subject or do you want to learn about applicable theories related to the subject? Is there a clear progression to more advanced qualifications within the training environment? Concise Training offer two qualifications at Level 3 – the ITQ Social Media Certificate is the smaller, more practical qualification, focused on an individual business or an individual’s personal brand, the Diploma in Social Media for Business is focused on applying social media in a range of business environments and touches on marketing theory. In the future Concise Training plan to deliver the level 4 Diploma in Digital Marketing which will offer a deeper and broader view of digital marketing.

What do graduates do after the course?

It is worth finding out, and speaking to, graduates once they have completed the course to find out what they are doing now as a result of the qualification and how they found the course in reality. A number of Concise Training’s graduates have gone on to use digital and social media marketing within their own business or have successfully helped businesses as consultants.

What would you add to this list?  I would be interested to know.

ITQ in Social Media can be started in your own time.  The next cohort of the Diploma in Social Media starts on May 11th.  We have an informational webinar to help you find out more about the course at 10am on April 27th.  Sign up here.

Why you need to consider using Twitter this year


Why you need to consider using TwitterSince I started using Twitter in 2009, I have found it both a fascinating and important tool to use. As a small business, why wouldn’t I want to use a tool that allows people to recommend us publicly to lots of people who we don’t know or aren’t doing business with?

Here is a selection of positive tweets about us in the last few days. These individuals have 1,828 followers between them – but then consider if I share each of these kind compliments to my 5,500 followers – these comments quickly create a good brand awareness about @concisetraining.

Twitter recommendations March 15On top of this is the many Twitter shares I have had to a recent blog post about the Nimble CRM. For me, Twitter becomes a bit of a ‘no brainer’ to add to our marketing mix.

However, this year Twitter is going to become even more powerful. When I first started using Twitter in 2009, tweets showed up in Google search – but then Google and Twitter fell out and tweets were no longer welcome! However, Google and Twitter have become friends again and “in the first half of this year” tweets will appear in Google search results according to Bloomberg.

So if you are looking for somewhere to eat – or a Twitter course – on Google, real time relevant tweets will appear. How powerful could that be? It will, of course, be even more important that you engage with your customers and keep the conversation positive!

Will it change your use of Twitter? Let me know in the comments below and do say ‘Hi’ on Twitter at @concisetraining.

Want to know more? Take our Twitter E-Learning course to learn how to make the best use of the channel.

Nimble – A Very Social CRM System


Nimble - A Very Social CRM

Recently we have talked about our adoption of the Nimble CRM system and it is proving to be a great help to us. In this blog post we are going to look at Nimble and what it does.

Nimble Banner

Nimble is a customer relationship management (CRM) system which links up nicely with social media. It is a database of your contacts with the ability to see communication that has passed back and forth between you by email and social media. It gives a complete “single customer view” including what customers are saying on their social media.

Each individual record allows you to see information about the person and if linked to their social media profiles, what they have said on social media.

Here is an example of an individual’s record:

Nimble Record

At the top, next to the individual’s picture (which is uploaded by you or pulled through from the social media profile), you can see basic contact details and some simple facts about the person. In the above picture we have clicked on the “social tab” half way down which shows the social profiles that the individual has.

By then clicking on “streams” we can see what this person has been saying on social media profiles:

Nimble Social Tab

Here you can view any of the posts made via connected profiles individually or all together. This is very useful to get a quick overview of what has been said. It gets better! From here you can post directly to your own social profiles by using the icons that appear to the right of each post:

Nimble interactions

You can, for example, reply, retweet or favourite any Twitter post from within Nimble, you can even schedule your posts for the future:

Nimble scheduled post

On the right hand side of the individual’s record is the status box:

Nimble Status Box

This is a quick summary which shows the lead type and status that you have assigned to the individual. These are user defined and can be anything you want. For example, you could use the status “current customer” or “prospect”.

One of the most useful bits of information here is the last contact made with the individual. This is contact made via social media and/or email or telephone (if this is logged) by any of your team.

Nimble also allows you to “tag” contacts:

Nimble tags

This feature can be used to view lists of people that have the same tags on their records. There are a few ways to access this but the easiest is to click on the tag in somebody’s record.

Nimble has many features that are extremely useful when you need to share information on your contacts with a team of people. Because it is a web based application, it doesn’t matter where those people are and there are even mobile apps which allow you to use Nimble on the move.

This short introduction to the Nimble CRM platform has only covered some of the basics of this powerful tool. Next time we will delve a little deeper and look into some of the more advanced features and how you can use them.

In the meantime, we would love to hear from you if you have used a social CRM system. Has it helped you manage your contacts and provide a better service to your customers? What features do you make the most use of?

Does your business use Social Bookmarking?


Does your business use social bookmarking

Every so often things come together which make me adjust how we are doing things:

  • I am in the process of writing a new E-Learning course about social bookmarking which forms part of our delivery of the Diploma in Social Media for Business City & Guilds qualification.
  • I have also be thinking about how we can be better at sharing interesting information with the people who are doing our courses – providing better customer support.
  • Yesterday I went to a networking  event at which E3D-Online were speaking – and they mentioned how they use Reddit as a method of promotion.

What is Social Bookmarking?

The idea of social bookmarking is that you use it as a way of storing links to sites that you find useful or your audience would find useful.  It is a public way of storing links so people you don’t know may also find your link.  Within the bookmarking site, you can include your own sites, but you should also include other links.  The same principle applies for social bookmarking as other forms of social media – ‘if you bookmark me, I’m more likely to bookmark you’.  It is important to include buttons on your website to help people to bookmark links.  I’ve just included the AddtoAny sharing buttons on my site to make it easy for people to share my posts.

There are hundreds of social bookmarking tools available – and the one that will be right for you will depend on why you are using the tool and where your audience is likely to be. This is a quick run down on the most common tools:

Delicious – this is probably one of the easiest to use.  Delicious stores links with tags. Tags are a way of identifying what the link is about.  For example,  I could submit this post to Delicious with the tags socialbookmarking, socialmedia, delicious, stumpleupon, etc.  I (and others) would be then able to search for links about socialbookmarking and this post would appear in the list.  Since you can choose to sort  by bookmarks that you have saved, Delicious is a good way of keeping track of interesting information you find. Particularly because it automatically saves links you have shared on Twitter.  Delicious will also show you other links based on their popularity (how many people have bookmarked the link)

Digg – Links are submitted to Digg and volunteers and people who use Digg vote on the link (Digg it).  The more votes a link receives, the more likely it is to appear on the first page of Digg.  If a link appears on the first page, it could be seen and clicked by thousands of people.  People who are active on Digg are more likely to get their own submissions seen.  It is not a good idea to frequently submit your own links; get other people to submit them on your behalf.

StumbleUpon – The difference with StumbleUpon is that it allows you to find interesting or unusual website pages based on your interests.  You vote on the pages and StumbleUpon shows you further website pages based on your votes.  Pages that receive the most votes are likely to be seen by more people within StumbleUpon. It is free to use, but there is also an advertising option which will put your website in front of more people.  I’ve had an short experiment with advertising and it definitely drove traffic to my website.  If I was to use advertising again, I would create an engaging landing page to encourage people to stay longer.  However, it currently only allows location targeting within the United States.

Scoopit – Scoopit is the tool that I currently use the most to store interesting links.  You can create topics and store links relevant to that topic.  For example, I have created a ‘copyright free images’ topic where I store any websites that are useful for finding copyright free images for blog posts etc.  Scoopit suggests content that could be added to a topic based on keywords and popular links.  The main issue with Scoopit is that you can now only create 1 topic for free.

Reddit – this is a social bookmarking site that adds additional forum functionality including an ‘ask me anything’ forum and a question forum.  Tags are used to group discussions or links together.  Discussions and links are voted up or down the list.  This tool could be a good one to promote your brand if you get involved and answer questions (without selling) as well as posting links.

Pinterest – An image based social bookmarking tool, mainly directed at lifestyle.  Images need to be high quality and aspirational to get people’s attention.  Can also be used to share images to blogs or other content.  Also has an advertising feature.  Works well when people repin images that you have pinned to your boards.

So how is this adjusting the way Concise Training are doing things?  Well, we are putting a process in place to ensure that when we find interesting content to share on social media we also share it on a social bookmarking tool so that it is available to others and is available for longer than just the short time on social media (to us and others).  The trick will be to make sure that we tag the information appropriately so that it is easy to find links again and that we automate the process as much as possible.  We will let you know how we get on.

If you have found this article interesting, do use the buttons on the right to share on social media but also on social bookmarking sites :-)

5 Reasons to Blog for Business


5 Reasons to Blog for BusinessAs many of you know, I truly believe that there are two sides to social media marketing – relationship marketing and content marketing.  Some businesses will choose to do both, others will choose one or the other and they are not mutually exclusive by any means.

What is Relationship Marketing?

Relationship marketing is when you as an individual within a business form and deepen business relationships with other individuals.  Whether you use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+, relationship marketing is all about identifying customers, prospects, influencers and getting to know them better – and allowing them to get to know you better. This is like an online extension of face to face networking.  At the end of the day – as we all know – people buy people.  Relationship marketing takes work just like any other marketing and is highly targeted.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is when you create lots of added value content and distribute it using social media channels.  You should create content that is targeted at your prospects and solves their pain or need.  Content should be helpful – give away some of your knowledge, regular, high quality and consistent.  I have heard a suggestion that you should produce content for 3 months without ever mentioning your product or service to make it really valuable!  Whether you take this view or not, I believe you need to tell people to engage with or do something as a result of the content.  We have found that by creating useful content, and asking people to engage, we have then moved into relationship marketing with some of our audience.  It is important though to understand the purpose of the content that you are creating – what will be the end game and how will you move people through the sales funnel?

What About Blogs?

Yes, this post is titled ‘Blog for Business’  but of course blogging is a type of content. Five reasons, I believe it is important for a business to consider blogging:

1. By creating regular, added value posts, you can build credibility of the business – be seen as somebody who understands what they are talking about.

2. To help the search engine optimisation of the website.  If your post is distributed and shared on social media, search engines will get a better idea of what the website is about and the quality of the site.

3. If the blog is hosted on the website, a blog will help to drive traffic to the website. Include links to other parts of your website or have a prominently displayed newsletter sign up form to encourage people to continue to engage.  Include a call to action on the post to tell people what to do next.

4. Blog posts are life long content.  Search engines will index the post and continue to display it in results.  I still get a high number of visits to a post that I wrote 2 years ago. You can also continue to share relevant blog posts on social media for months after the post was written.

5. You can reuse the content.  I’ve now written 5 reasons to write blog posts.  I can share each of those reasons separately across social media channels, I will include a link to this post in my next newsletter and I could create a visual version of this post and create a SlideShare presentation out of it.  All ways of getting my brand and message out there.

So what do you think?  Are you going to put more effort into your blog posts?  If you need help getting started with blogging, check out our Business Blogging E-Learning course. You might also be interested in a post I wrote a while ago about creating a blogging schedule and of course I’d be delighted to engage with you further on social media, in the comments below or through my newsletter (the sign up form is on the right)!

LinkedIn Company Page Notifications


LinkedIn Company Page Notifications

Today (13th Feb 2015)  we’ve noticed a few feature on some of the LinkedIn company pages we manage for clients.  Notifications.  I haven’t yet seen this in an announcement from LinkedIn but it seems to be really useful.

I first noticed it when I saw a LinkedIn notification on my personal profile telling me that the company page had a new notification.  Looking into this further, the company page has an additional tab – Notifications.

LinkedIn Company Page optionsThis shows me the social actions on the page – Likes, Comments, Shares, Mentions today and for the week or the month.

LinkedIn Company Page NotificationsI can also see who shared, liked or commented by changing the drop down on the right hand side.LinkedIn company page notification types

This is really valuable data to see for a page and helps to show more clearly which updates are getting the most engagement.  I’m looking forward to seeing this rolled out to all company pages.

What do you think?  Can you see your company page notifications yet?

Are you using LinkedIn search?


Are you using LinkedIn search

How do you find new information about prospects that you want to contact? Do you spend time on websites and the telephone trying to find the right person to talk to?  Do you know that LinkedIn is a rich database of contacts who may already be in your network?

If you build up a good quality 1st level set of connections (1st level means people you are directly connected to), you can use your 1st level connections to introduce you to their connections – if you know the company, industry sector or keywords that you want to work with.

By the way, this is available to everybody with a free version of LinkedIn. I’m not a premium member and personally have no need to upgrade – and I do get a significant amount of business from LinkedIn.

At the top of LinkedIn, there is a search bar.  Using the drop down menu on the left hand side, you can search by ‘All’, ‘People’, ‘Companies’ etc.

LinkedIn Search

Search for somebody in a known company

Enter a name of a company you would like to work with into the search box and press the search button on the right or select the company name from the drop down list provided.

LinkedIn search a company

When you select the company, the company page will be displayed.  There is a See All hyperlink on the right underneath the pictures.

LinkedIn company profile

Click See All and a list of everybody in the company who is on LinkedIn will be displayed.  This is sorted by people who are closest to you in terms of 1st connection, 2nd connection etc.  In big companies this can be a long list so to filter by job title or function, use the Advanced button in the top left.

LinkedIn Advanced search

You can enter additional information including keywords, location etc. to find the list of people who more closely fulfil your requirements.

Now we get to the clever bit.

If you find the person you want to connect with is a 2nd level connection, you will see a green X shared connection under their name.  By clicking on the X shared connection, you will be able to see which of your 1st level connections is connected to the person you want to talk to.

If you have a good quality set of 1st level connections, you can contact the 1st level connection to set up an introduction.  I would pick up the phone – but you could send an email or even a LinkedIn message to find out how good their relationship is with the person you want to talk to and whether an introduction would be appropriate.  Alternatively you could send a connection request to the 2nd level connection referencing your shared connection.

Search for companies or people by keywords

Enter your keywords into the search box as before and press the magnifying glass to search.

Then use the filters on the left of the page to filter by location – you can either choose United Kingdom or if you click Add and enter the city you want to search.

Remember anybody who has any of your keywords anywhere in their profile will be listed – you may need to use quotes ”  ” if you want an exact match on the phrase.

I use this option to find suppliers who are in my network – looking at our shared connections I can contact people I know to get personnel recommendations.

How do you use LinkedIn search – do share in the comments below.  If you would like to know more about LinkedIn, have a look at our LinkedIn E-Learning course.

Content Marketing – why should you be doing it?


Content Marketing - WhyContent marketing is becoming increasingly important as a way of engaging with your audience. What do I mean by content marketing?

In my opinion, updates that you share on your social media channels should be approximately 40% original content, 40% shared content and 20% engagement.  These are rough figures that will vary by business type, but it is a good place to start.

Original content is content that the business creates to share with its audience. By original content, I don’t mean content that tries to sell or even content that talks about how wonderful the business is, but content that gives added value to your audience. This added value might be because it solves a problem, makes them laugh, think or say Wow! Try to think creativity about your content – look at how Oreo does it.

Content could be:

  • Textual – blog posts, LinkedIn posts or status updates, newsletters, e-books or articles
  • Visual – images, videos, SlideShare presentations, Infographics, cartoons, memes
  • Interactive – polls, quizzes, short E-Learning modules
  • Any combination of the above

A survey of 1,000 UK social media users by Axonn found that “77% of users follow at least one brand on social media, but more than half have unfollowed a brand for posting boring or overly salesy content.”

Any content that you create needs to be high quality – written well, targeted to the audience with high quality, relevant images.

According to the survey, “interesting content is one of the top three reasons people follow brands on social media.  Spelling and grammar matters to 48% of those surveyed. 67% prefer to buy from a brand they follow on social media.”

The idea of producing added value content is to develop an audience who follow your content and share it with others. You first build an audience and once you have the audience, you can take them to the next stage. Yes, you are going to want to sell eventually otherwise you will go out of business, but you should sell on the back of the great content you are creating not as the first thing you do on social media.

Great content will also help with your search engine rankings.  If you have great relevant content on your website that others are sharing, search engines will be able to understand what your website is about and realise that it should be highly ranked because it is getting traffic and being shared.

So how to produce the content?  Some thoughts:

  • Allocate marketing time / budget to content creation
  • Make sure you understand the tone and voice of the business
  • Encourage all members of the business to be involved
  • Use an editor to optimise content and check it to make sure it represents the right tone and voice of the business
  • Think about your ideal client and what is their pain / interest?  Imagine you are producing the content directly for that client
  • Create a content plan so your content can be regular and consistent.
  • Distribute content across your social media channels and ask your audience to engage – then keep the conversation going.

What do you think?  What content has worked for you?  Let me know if you would like more information about our content management service or Training courses.

Twitter Mobile App – Privacy


Twitter Mobile App - Privacy Settings

I generally use the HootSuite app to manage my Twitter account, but sometimes is is useful to use the Twitter app directly.  If you do use (or have installed) the mobile app, you need to be aware that Twitter is rolling out an update to check what other apps you have installed on your SmartPhone or tablet so Twitter can see how you use your device.

The update is designed to target you with suggested content and advertising which is more personal.  The data that Twitter will collect is limited to the names of the apps you’ve installed, it said on its Support page. Other information, such as what you share or how often you use the apps, won’t be collected. Twitter says that this data will help the company improve a few features, including the “who to follow” suggestions that it bases on your interests.

When is this happening?

There is no fixed date when the ‘app graph’ (as it is called) is being rolled out.  When you have it, you will be notified by a prompt stating “to help tailor your experience, Twitter uses the apps on your device”.

Twitter App Graph Prompt

I  don’t want Twitter to see my apps

1. You can opt out of Interest-based ads across your device:

On an iOS device tap Settings > Privacy > Advertisin> Opt out of Interest-based ads

On an Android device, tap Settings > Accounts > Google > Ads > Opt out of Interest based advertising

If you have already set these, Twitter will not collect information about your apps unless you change that setting.

2. However if you have not already opted out and accidentally close the above message without tapping ‘review settings’ (we’ve all been there), but still want to turn the app graph off (or make sure it is off), follow these steps:

Twitter for Android:

  1. Tap the overflow icon
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap the account you’d like to adjust.
  4. Under Other, you can adjust the setting for Tailor Twitter based on my apps.

 Using Twitter for iOS:

  1. From the Me tab, tap the gear icon
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap the account you’d like to adjust.
  4. Under Privacy, you can adjust the setting to Tailor Twitter based on my apps (there is an issue with this not displaying correcting.  Twitter states you need to contact if you are having problems).

How about other applications?

Twitter is being quite open and visible about the fact that they are doing this.  Other applications also look at how you are using your mobile device – they are just more sneaky about it.  What do you think about this? Do share in the comments.

Facebook Newsfeed Preferences, Save and Search


Facebook improves personal profile functionalityOver the last couple of months, Facebook has made a few changes to make it easier to use from a personal profile.  In this post we will look at Newsfeed preferences, searching, and saving posts and pages to view later.

Facebook Newsfeed Preferences

News Feed preferences is available from the drop down on the top right of the page.News Feed Drop Down

It will show a list of the top people, Pages and Groups that you have seen in your Newsfeed over the past week.

newsfeed preferences


You can choose to sort by people, pages or group posts or see an overall summary.  You can use this to choose to unfollow (but still remain friends with) people who talk more than others.  This also makes it easy to unfollow pages who are selling too much – or not adding value.

Updates to Search

Facebook Graph Search is only available to people using US Choose US EnglishEnglish on their Facebook page.  To change to US English, scroll down on your Home page to underneath the Ads.  Click UK English and select US English.

Once you choose US English, you can  search by the Interests or ‘Likes’ your friends have indicated.  For example searching ‘Restaurants my friends like’ brings up posts, people or pages with Restaurants that have been visited, ‘liked’ or talked about by my friends.

Graph Search

It is now possible to also search past posts.  If you remember seeing something but can’t remember the details, you can use Facebook search to find the posts. Search is available on mobile and results are personalised. You will only be able to see things that have been shared with you. Remember search is are only available if you use US English.


You can save pages and posts that contain links or photos that you have seen to view later.  You can only save as a person not as a page.

To Save a Page, click on the three dots in the Cover Photo and select Save.

Save a Facebook Page

To save a Post with links, photos (with links), video or events, click on the arrow on the right side and Save.

Save a Post

To view the things you have saved, click Saved on the left hand side of your home page.  Only you will see the things you have saved.

View Saved Posts

I would like to know what you think – are you going to make use of these options to make your personal use of Facebook better?  If you are considering using Facebook for Business, you might want to have a look at our Facebook E-Learning course.


January 2015 – Facebook Changes


Facebook Jan 15 ChangesFrom January, Facebook will be severely restricting overly promotional posts in the News Feed. In their words, “Pages that post promotional content should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.”

Facebook identifies three specific types of content that users have disliked:

  • Content that only exists to get people to install an app or buy a product
  • Content that wants people to enter contests or promotions without context
  • Posts that reuse ad content

Here are examples from Facebook of Page posts that they will be cracking down on:

Facebook example of posts to be filteredWhat does this mean for you?

The changes will affect businesses using Facebook Pages as a promotional tool to sell products or drive app downloads. Your contests, campaigns etc are unlikely to be seen organically by your audience. However if you’ve invested time and resources into building a Facebook Page audience it is still worth using the channel. Three things to focus on to get the most out of your Facebook presence:

  • Post consistently and regularly
  • Target your posts to a particular audience (gender, interests, location, age) using the targeting options on a post
  • Connect with words and pictures – use short descriptive phrases and high quality lifestyle images. Avoid sales messaging such as ‘buy now’ and ‘shop now’
  • Create interesting posts which add value

Facebook says that businesses should be thinking of Pages as “a cornerstone of their online identity, not simply as a publishing service.” In other words, yes publishing is part of Facebook, but it’s only one of many parts. As you decrease the promotional messaging on your page, you can still find value in it as a customer service tool or as an informational service. In fact, according to an Accent Marketing report, one third of consumers have used Facebook as a customer service channel.  Read why CopyBlogger have decided to move away from Facebook.

You should also consider whether it is time to explore the use of Facebook ads to distribute your “added value content” to a wider but highly targeted audience.  It may also be time to see whether Google+ is worth another look?

By the way, as a user if you keep seeing ads in your news feed from companiesRemove Ad from Facebook that don’t interest you, if you click on the drop down in the top right of the post, you can choose to hide all ads from the company and even tell Facebook why you want to hide the ad.

The whole idea of the change is to make your news feed more relevant to you. What do you think?  Let us know in the comments below.

If you want to find out more about using Facebook for Business, have a look at our updated Facebook for Business E-Learning Course.

Why should you share your content?


Why share contentWhy share your content with others?

The simple fact is people no longer pay attention to much traditional advertising. There is so much of it about that we have learned to ignore it. Traditional advertising on its own may no longer provide a good return on investment.

What works is building trust with your audience; Building relationships with your customers and potential customers. People want to deal with people – even if this is online.

This is where regularly sharing high quality content works well. Content marketing should be aiming to build relationships not to directly sell your product (at least not all the time). Think of it as educating others so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you. It is selling without selling.

Use it for building brand trust and awareness and to become a recognised expert in your field. This is done by sharing your expertise with others for free.

What should I share?content

Ask yourself “What would be of value to my customers?”, “What kind of questions do they ask?”, “What information can I provide that is useful to them?”

The idea is to make your content useful, attractive (use graphics) and quality is key.

Where should I share it?

You want to make your content as widely shared as possible but use the right channels for your audience and concentrate on using a few channels well rather than everything not so well.

Can I just distribute it?

Unfortunately not! You want to use your high quality, informative content to start the relationship with your audience.  Get their interest and then engage with them to find out more about their needs and to let them build trust in you.

The downside of content marketing is that it does take some time. It shouldcontent-marketing be carried out by somebody who not only has the time to create high quality content and to share that content but also somebody who understands how your business works. Many businesses find that they end up outsourcing their content marketing and this can be a very cost effective decision provided that you select the right partner. I published an article on LinkedIn recently about this and I would urge you to read this before you make any decisions.

Concise Training provides an open and honest content marketing service.  You can find out more about the options we offer here.

Find Copyright free for images on Social Media


I had a conversation with a customer the other day who said that she had attended a WordPress workshop (before she knew about my courses) during which she was told that she could use any image from the internet on her website.  It astonished me – and annoyed me that this is still being taught by ‘professionals’. It is important to use copyright free images on social media and websites.

Find Copyright imagesImages are copyright protected and unless the image creator has loosened the copyright restrictions, you cannot just find an image on Google, right click and save as and use the image in your social media updates or on your website. You could end up with a large bill.

If you are using images for your website, I would suggest you purchase images from iStock or Shutterstock but this can get expensive for social media updates. Don’t despair though, there are a range of copyright free options available and a range of tools to help you create images. Here are some of my current favoUnsplash - Laptop or Mobileurites:

Unsplash – a source of some amazing photos and if you subscribe, they send you 10 free photos each week.  The image on the right is from Unsplash.



Freeimages – use this tool to search for images e.g. ‘man sitting’.  The Premium istock images will display at the top and then a selection of free images will display after. Just click through on an image to check the copyright restrictions – some ask for the creator to be informed when you use the image.  If it is all OK, you can download the image and use in your blog posts or social media updates.

Canva – is a fantastic free to use tool to help you create images or alter images.  ForMobile or Laptop example, you can choose to create a Facebook post, which will create a blank canvas of the right size. Upload an image (say from unsplash) or choose one of the images provided by Canva.  Then add text or logos to the image to make it your own.  You can quickly create unique images with the right dimensions to share as a Facebook post (or Twitter, etc).  I added the text and logo to the image on right in less than 2 minutes. Canva has free options or paid options ($1 for each paid element).

Gimp – is a free image creation tool which allows you to enhance photos, create images with layers and retouch images.  There are a number of tutorials on YouTube to help you learn how to use the tool.

You can find other options for copyright free images on my Scoopit – where I store any links I find useful. You may also be interested in our Images for Business E-Learning course in which we tell you what you should think about from a design perspective when creating an image as well as show you how to use some of the popular image editing tools.

Do share your favourite sources for images – or free image creation tools in the comments below.

Sending group messages on LinkedIn


LinkedIn seems to have changed recently in the way that you can send messages to a group of contacts.  6/11/14 – it has changed back :-)

There is a very useful facility within the Connections tab of LinkedIn that allows LinkedIn Connections Tab you to group contacts together and message up to 50 individuals within the group.  Used carefully, this can be a really good way of sending relevant messages.

To do this use the filter option to see contacts by location or company or filter by a tag.LinkedIn Filter options You can assign a contact to one or more tags by clicking on Tag under the contact name.

LinkedIn Tag Contact

A contact can be in more than one tag and you can create tags of your own. Tags are kept private.

If you then filter by tag, you can see all contacts you have tagged as ‘Prospects’ for example. You can then send them all a message by clicking Message at the top.

Sounds good? Be warned, LinkedIn have changed the way messages are displayed to recipients. You used to be able to select an option to not show email addresses to other recipients which effectively sent a blind copy.  Now it shows the names of each of the recipients as shown in the image.Tweet this

Update 6/11/14 – the facility has changed again so now you can select the option to blind copy!

LinkedIn Send MessageClearly this significantly changes how you can use the messaging option – so do be careful!  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

If you would like to know more about using LinkedIn to develop your business, why not have a look at our LinkedIn E-Learning course.


Have you used Google Cast?


I do quite a bit of bespoke social media and Microsoft Office training for clients – I go to their site and plug into their equipment.  I do have my own projector and screen but many clients like me to use their TV to project my screen.

This works fine – but does entail lots of wires and issues with plugs – I also end up at the front next to the TV and learners can’t show their own screens to others if there is a particular issue.

Google Cast

Image from Amazon

I was with a client the other day who had bought Google Cast. This is a device that allows anybody to project to the TV screen from a Google browser using the client WiFI.

I just needed to download the Google cast app to my browser and I could project any browser tab or my whole desktop.  It wasn’t without problems – the option to project my desktop took a while to display – but once it worked it was excellent. Rather than be up at the front, I could work with the client team around the table.  It was also fantastic that individual learners could project their screens to discuss a particular problem and then with a press of the button, I could return to projecting my screen.  Although we didn’t try it, I believe you can also ‘cast’ or project your Android tablet or SmartPhone.

The device costs £25 from Amazon – well worth investigating as an alternative for projection – use any money you save buying the largest screen you can afford.  Apparently it also works well to watch TV tool!

What do you think?  Have you used Google Cast?  Do you use any other methods of projection in training rooms that you would like to share.

Representing yourself or a business on Twitter?


Way back in 2011, I wrote a post about selecting a Twitter username.   In the post I talked about using ConciseTraining as my username, but use a photo of me, Mary to ensure I show some personality in the account.  During the post, I did mention that I might have to rethink this if the company was to grow.

Well, I am now at that stage and I thought it would be useful to share my thoughts with you as I know many of my peers have also grown and developed their sole trader companies.

During the past year, I have taken on two fantastic part time employees who are not only responsible for managing social media content for others but also contribute to the Concise Training marketing (online and offline).  I am often out training clients or developing new courses so I’m not always around to manage my own social media accounts so Steve and Viv have been making sure that my accounts are still developing engagement,  offering added value content and showing best practice.

This has been fine for the Concise Training Facebook and Google+ pages, however, I have become increasingly aware that despite my picture showing on the Twitter account, it is not always me who is tweeting.  This is particularly difficult when people who know me well talk to me using the account.  I was having a personal issue with integrity.

So, what to do?  I’ve decided to create a new Twitter account called MaryAtConcise which I will use on a more adhoc and personal basis.   The Concise Training account will be used to share added value content, promote others and develop relationships between clients and all aspects of the business.  The profile photo and name will reflect this. Concise Training is becoming more than just me and it is about time this was reflected on Twitter.  The fear is that it will too much to manage but we will see…..

I would love to know your thoughts.  Do please keep talking to the team managing @concisetraining and me @MaryAtConcise.

By the way, I’ll be talking about this further at the monthly Concise Training Google hangout.  Join in here or watch here.


Did you know Twitter displayed analytics?


If you have a Twitter Ads account, you can get some interesting data on your organic tweets (even those you are not using for promotion).

If you don’t have a Twitter Ads account, you can sign up for one at – submit your payment information.  Set up a promoted campaign in the future and cancel it once you have access to analytics.

Sign in to your Twitter Ads account and click Analytics (along the top menu bar). Looking at the information available:

Tweet activity
This displays the number of views (anytime a user sees your Tweet) over the last 28 days (compared to the previous period).

Twitter Activity

Twitter engagement statsOn the right you can view the engagement rate in terms of retweets, link clicks, favourites and replies on each day for the last 28 days. You can use this to identify which days showed the best performance so you can replicate the success.

You can also see detailed statistics for individual tweets to see which to reschedule.  To see more information you can download a CSV file to see tweets for the past few months.



This dashboard gives information about follower increases, gender and location as well as topics your followers find most interesting.

Twitter followers


What do you think of the Twitter analytics?  Do you think you will add them to your suite of measurement tools?


Different ways to use Google+ Hangouts


Have you used Google+ Hangouts yet?  They are a unique feature of Google+ that allow you to either have up to 9 other people in a private webinar or allow you to livestream webinars to YouTube to allow anybody to listen to the webinar and ask questions via text.

Aside from the obvious way of using Google+ hangouts to have team or group webinars, as an alternative to Skype, brands have used hangouts on air in some really creative ways.

Cadbury UK have used hangouts and hangouts on air for chocolate tasting hangouts, cooking demonstrations and interviews with famous sports stars to help drive engagement on their Google+ page.

Earlier this year, Manchester United offered the chance for 20 fans to appear on the pitch side boards at the Manchester United vs Liverpool football match via a Google hangout. You can see the original post here which has 1089 public shares.

Top Man held a shoppable Google hangout in January this year. During the hangout consumers were able to watch as the hosts took them behind the scenes of the catwalk show as they interviewed celebrities and models. They were also able to watch a live stream of the Topman Design Show. and could shop the looks of the hosts direct from the hangout. (85% of unique viewers clicked from the Shoppable Hangout to engage with products).

These are all big brands running hangouts, but small businesses can use hangouts successfully too.  Concise Training will be running a regular hangout on air at 2pm on the first working Monday of each month.  It would be great if you can join us.  The first one on 1st September will discuss the pros and cons of choosing a Twitter username. Register for the hangout here and you can watch it here.

I would love to hear about your experiences with Google hangouts in the comments below.




Simplifying Social Media With Spreadsheets – Part 4 – Using IFTTT


Last week we looked at some of the social media spreadsheet add-ons that are available. Continuing our spreadsheets for social media theme, today we are going to look at one of my favourite tools – IFTTT – it stands for “If This Then That”.

This powerful service allows you to link web channels (web applications) to each other via a “trigger” and “action”. The combination of channels, trigger, rules and actions is known as a recipe and once you join IFTTT for free you have access to many recipes that are created for you already or you can create your own.

The basic premise is that if a trigger “fires” on one web application, then an “action” will be carried out on another web application. The possibilities for this tool are practically endless but here I will show you one of the ways that I use this tool for social media purposes.

Feedly to Google Sheets 

Feedly logoGoogle Drive LogoFeedly is a service that allows you to organise all your RSS feeds from blogs and websites into categories in your Feedly account. When a new story appears you can mark it with tags that you have created.


I use an IFTTT recipe to put details of the articles that I tag in Feedly into a google spreadsheet which then makes it easier to schedule this content for sharing via Hootsuite.

I have created tags in Feedly for content that I think is suitable for sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and I have created IFTTT recipes for each of these:

  • Recipe 1, If article in Feedly is tagged “Facebook” then put its details into a Google Sheet called “Facebook – content”
  • Recipe 2, If article in Feedly is tagged “Twitter” then put its details into a Google Sheet called “Twitter – content”
  • Recipe 3, If article in Feedly is tagged “Google Plus” then put its details into a Google Sheet called “Google Plus – content”

To do this you will need a Feedly account, a Google Account and an IFTTT account. There are free versions of each account – just enter your details to create yours.

How to replicate this recipe:


Step 1) Create accounts for Feedly, Google and IFTTT if you haven’t already got them. Create your tags in Feedly before going any further.

Step 2) Log in to your IFTTT account

Step 3) Click “Create Recipe”

IFTTT Login Screen




Step 4) Click “this” to choose your trigger channel

IFTTT This screen





You will be presented with a choice of channels (you are looking for Feedly). The first time you use a channel you will be prompted to activate it by entering the login details for that account and authorising the connection.

IFTTT channels select






Step 5) You are then presented with a list of the available triggers for that channel. For this recipe choose “new article tagged”.

IFTTT feedly trigger






Step 6) You then need to choose the relevant tag from the drop down menu. These are pulled though from the ones you have created in Feedly.

Step 7) Click on “That” to choose your action channel – you are looking for Google Drive. Again you will have to activate the channel by entering your login details if you have not previously done this. In the screen below you can see I have chosen a tag “CT”.

IFTTT that screen




Step 8) Choose your action – for this recipe it is “add row to spreadsheet”

IFTTT Drive Action






Step 9) On the next screen, name the spreadsheet in the top box but leave all the other boxes with their default values and click “Create Action”.

Step 10) Activate the recipe and you are taken to a list of your recipes where you can test that it is working correctly, turn it on and off etc.

That is it! Once your recipe is active, any new article that is tagged in Feedly with the tag that you specified has its details automatically added to a Google Spreadsheet on your Google Drive – links, heading, details, source are all recorded! You can then adapt this spreadsheet for scheduling the articles in your chosen social media management tool!

IFTTT is a straightforward way to link web applications together to automate tasks that would otherwise take you a long time to complete. It is a fantastic service which is easy to customise, even for non “techy” people so get going and have fun creating your recipes!

Let us know in the comments section whether you have tried this, whether you already use IFTTT and what for? If you have any questions, ask them here too!

Simplifying Social Media With Spreadsheets – Part 3 – Spreadsheet Add-Ons


Last week we looked at using a spreadsheet with management tool Hootsuite to bulk schedule social media posts. Continuing our spreadsheets for social media theme, today we are going to look at some of the social media spreadsheet tools that are out there.


In November 2013 Automate Analytics became Supermetrics. They produce a series of add-ons for Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, some of which are paid and some free. The Microsoft Excel add-on which they call their Datagrabber allows you to pull in information from several sources of analytic data including Google Analytics, AdWords, Facebook, Bing Ads, Twitter, YouTube and Google Webmaster Tools. The tool then allows you to view charts of the data and manipulate it within Excel. This can very useful for producing reports on your social media performance.

Supermetrics also produce a powerful add-on for Google Docs/Sheets which at the time of writing is free. Again this allows you to pull information in from several sources and can make the job of producing reports on social media performance much quicker. A particular feature that we like here at Concise Training is the ability to search Twitter for Tweets containing certain phrases/terms and then pull these into a spreadsheet ready to analyse. Used in the right way this can produce a spreadsheet containing all mentions of a brand and all retweets etc.

Martin Hassman (MH Labs)

Martin has produced a series of tools which make use of Google Sheets, Charts and Maps. These tools can be used to analyse data from Facebook and Foursquare and they are generally free. The Facebook likes counter allows you to obtain the number of likes, shares and comments for a particular Facebook profile and pulls these into a Google Spreadsheet for analysis.

The Twitter tools available on Martin’s website may no longer work due to changes in the way that Twitter shares data.

facebook like counter


Simply Measured

The guys over at Simply Measured produce a suite of powerful social media analytics tools many of which pull your data into spreadsheets where you can view and manipulate it. One of our favourites, which happens to be completely free, is the tool to export your Twitter followers into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Not only does this show the followers’ names it also extracts information from their profile allowing you to sort your followers according to location etc. The tool also produces a series of charts and tables to analyse the following of any Twitter profile.

simply measured


Twitter Analytics

Twitter’s own analytics service provides data on your followers, your tweets and the performance of your Twitter Cards and Ads. The report on your tweets shows which are the best performing in terms of retweets, favourites and replies and best of all, you can export this into a CSV file which means you can load it into a spreadsheet and analyse it here.

twitter analytics


What spreadsheet tools have you used for social media purposes? Please share using the comments.


Simplifying Social Media With Spreadsheets – Part 2 – Bulk Scheduling


At Concise Training we love to use spreadsheets to organise our work and to aid us in carrying this work out.

In this series Steve will be looking at how you can use spreadsheets, specifically Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets to make your social media management more efficient.

In the last post we talked about creating a publishing schedule for your social media content using a spreadsheet. Today we are going to talk about using that spreadsheet to bulk schedule your social media posts. For this discussion we will concentrate on using MS Excel.

Hootsuite, the social media management tool offers a free and paid for account. To bulk schedule, you need to pay a small monthly fee to be a “pro user”.

You can upload a file containing details of your posts and the date and time that you wish these to be published to Hootsuite. The file needs to be saved in CSV format and below I explain how to create this CSV file.

The starting point is a spreadsheet, we need three columns:

  • date/time
  • post content
  • link

If you have a completed publishing schedule spreadsheet you can use this by copying the required columns into a blank worksheet or deleting the columns that are not needed. If you do the latter, save a backup of your schedule first!

Correct formatting of your spreadsheet is critical for a successful upload.

Column A (date/time column) must be formatted: dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm

1) Select all of column A (left click on the A at the top of the column – it will turn blue).

column A select

2) Now right click over this column and choose “format cells”.

format cells2


3) Click/Select “Custom” and in “Type:” write dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm make sure there is a space between yyyy and hh.

Any dates entered into the cells in column A should appear like this:

dates shown

You can only have one post per row but you can schedule posts on the same date by simply entering that date in the next cell down too:

dates shown 4green tick

You cannot have posts scheduled for the exact same time on the same date:

dates shown 3crossed outdates shown 2green tick

Some pointers for the dates and times:

  • Times must be in 24 hour format – E.G. 13:30 for 1:30pm
  • The time must be at least 10 minutes in the future at the time that you upload your spreadsheet.
  • Times must end with a zero or a five.

In column B you will put your post content. There is no need to put this inside quotation marks. In fact using the “ symbol in your social media posts can be problematic when uploading your file.

In column C you will put any URL that is to be included in the post, these should include the “http://” bit at the beginning. A completed spreadsheet would therefore look like:

completed sheet

Now that you have a completed spreadsheet you need to save it to the correct format.

Go to file > Save As > Then select Comma Separated Values (.csv)

save as

Accept any messages that pop up regarding the format chosen and select “save active sheet” when the message appears about not being able to save the entire workbook.

You have now created your CSV file for bulk scheduling in Hootsuite! The same file format can be used for bulk scheduling in ViralHeat.

Uploading the Schedule to Hootsuite

In Hootsuite, from your dashboard, choose publisher on the left hand side. Click the link “Bulk Message Upload”:


You will then be given the option to upload your CSV file:


Browse to your file by clicking “Choose File”, make sure you select the correct date format – dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm, choose the social network account that you wish the posts to go to and click submit.

All done!

Common Issues with Hootsuite Bulk Scheduler CSV files:

Date format incorrect – make sure times are 13:45 rather than 13.45

You cannot bulk schedule identical posts without getting a warning message on upload

Remember you only have 140 characters and whilst your URL’s will be shortened on upload, the character count is the post content + shortened URL

Times must end in a zero or a five and must be at least ten minutes in the future at the time that you upload your file.

CSV files are treated differently by OpenOffice Calc and you have to make some format changes to the spreadsheet in this software to get it to work.

Google Sheets

You can create your CSV file from a Google Sheets spreadsheet. You will have to choose the option to “download the file as a CSV”.

Let us know if you found this useful and if you have had any problems with bulk scheduling your social media posts using spreadsheets.


Simplifying Social Media With Spreadsheets – Part 1


Here at Concise Training we love to use spreadsheets to organise work and to aid us in carrying this work out.

In this series Steve will be looking at how you can use spreadsheets, specifically Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets to make your social media management more efficient.

To start off, we thought we would look at using spreadsheets to plan your social media publishing.

Publishing Schedules

If you are going to manage a large amount of content for regular publishing to the Internet, you will need to keep track of what you are publishing and plan when to do so. You can do this by creating an editorial calendar using any suitable spreadsheet software. It is useful, for reasons that will be covered later, for the software to be capable of saving a file in CSV (Comma Separated Values) format.

You can choose the layout that you wish to use yourself and it can be as simple as a column for date, a column for the content that you are going to publish and one for the network that you will publish your post to. It could also include a lot more detail such as on this free template which you can download from Hubspot:

publishing template example

You can see that this particular template uses a separate worksheet for each social network which is a good idea if you publish to a variety of networks.

We prefer to use something a bit simpler and to be able to track the topic or theme of the content that we will be publishing:

publishing template example2

By using a layout similar to this, We are able to sort and filter the spreadsheet by theme and topic.

A useful tip for using a spreadsheet to schedule content for microblogs such as Twitter, is to use the function “=LEN( )” to count the characters in the status update cells. This way, you can avoid your tweets getting too long.

You might also want to introduce a column that joins the status update, hashtags and link URL together into one for easy posting. You can do this using the function “=CONCATENATE( )”.

Comma Separated Values

This is a simple text file format that you can save a spreadsheet in where each item of data is separated by a “delimiter”- normally a comma. It is very useful if you can save your publishing schedule in this format as with a bit of manipulation, you will then be able to upload your file into social media management tools such as ViralHeat or the Pro version of Hootsuite and schedule your content to be published automatically.

Next week we will look in more detail at how you can integrate spreadsheets with social media management tools. Meanwhile we would love to hear how you have used spreadsheets to plan your social media content.

Google+ is three years old


In my last post I gave 4 reasons that you should be on Google+ which got a good level of response across my social networks.

In particular I was contacted by Eddie O’Driscoll from DPFOC who wanted to share the Infographic (below) his company had just created.  It gives a nice history of Google Products and functionality. Thanks Eddie

As the Infographic points out, there has been a rumour recently that Google will be withdrawing support for Google+.

Interestingly enough I have recently seen a definite spike in the numbers of people who are joining the network!  I’m also getting more interest in our Google+ E-Learning course (latest update to be released on July 1st) and our Google+ workshop.

Happy Birthday Google Plus from DPFOC

So share your thoughts, where do you think Google+ will be aged 4?

Four reasons you should be using Google+


Since Google+ arrived in 2012, there has been a great deal of talk around whether businesses should use it or not.  I have always liked the tool but there have been some issues, not least of which is that the Google+ audience is less engaged than on some of the other tools.

Recently, I’ve been taking another detailed look at Google+ as part of the process of updating our E-Learning courses and I really like what I now see.  Google have made a number of changes to the tool in the background to make it easier to use. So why should you be using it? Here are my top four reasons you should be using Google+.

Search Results

Let’s be honest, if you have a business website, you want to see your website appear as high as possible in search engine results. You help to achieve this, you really need to consider having a Google+ page and posting updates.  It does have a noticeable effect on where you sit in search engine results and updates posted on Google+ are updated immediately.  If you write blog posts, you should use Google Authorship which will link your personal Google+ profile to your website and show your profile picture in search results.

Google Authorship Search Results


As you know, when you use social networks, you need to follow people in order to get them to follow you.  Many of the tools allow you to group people into lists in order to make listening easier – but including people in lists is a discipline that can be hard to keep doing when you are in a hurry!  Google+ insists that you immediately put somebody into a circle when you follow them.  Circles are easy to manage using a drag and drop interface and you can not only listen to the people in your circles but also direct a message only to a particular circle – allowing you to target updates (even if you only have a few people in your circle).


Hangouts are a free way of having a video conference with up to 9 other people. ‘Hangouts on air’ allow you to live stream the conference to YouTube so an unlimited number of people can watch.  I have always been a fan of Hangouts and use them regularly with my social media professionals group, but I used to find them difficult to use on a more public basis as it was always tricky to get people who were not on Google+ to access the webinar.

Now when you schedule a ‘hangout on air’ you can share the link to the forthcoming YouTube live stream on other social networks.  When people watch the live stream they can communicate with you using a text messaging function. When the webinar is finished, you can edit the live stream within YouTube and publish it to your channel.  A free way of regularly communicating with your prospects and generating video content.


The audience on Google+ is increasing slowly.  When I first started using LinkedIn – I used to struggle to find people using it – but now most people are at least on the tool.  I think the same thing is happening with Google+.  It is a nice tool to use – advert free (at the moment) and fantastic for photos.  Of course it also has good integration with mobile devices (Android in particular) so people will start to use the functionality without realising they are using Google+.

What do you think?  Google+ is just a nice tool to use – with photos being front and centre and easy to update but there are also some real business reasons to use it now.  Will you start?

Let me have your thoughts or if you would like more help to get started.

Do follow me and my business page on Google+.


Excel 2013 – displaying data on maps


I’ve been doing some Office 2013 training this month, so it seemed a good time to point out one of the clever features of Excel 2013.

Do you have sales data or other data listed by geographical area?  You can now quickly display this data in map format with the click of a couple of buttons.

So what are the steps?

1. Enter the sales data and towns that you want to display into an Excel 2013 worksheet.

For example

Sales Town
5600 Leicester
2380 Birmingham
2397 Manchester
7830 London
4856 Oxford
976 Swindon
8577 York

2. Click Insert > PowerView

You may need to allow Excel to access Bing.

A new sheet will be displayed

Excel 2013 PowerView

3. Click on the Design ribbon.

4a. Choosing Table > Card creates a useful view

Excel 2013 PowerView Card4b. Choosing the Map option shows the following

Excel 2013 PowerView Map

How clever is that?  To have all this functionality within a ‘standard’ package available to all, with the click of a few buttons gives us very powerful reporting and analysis tools.

What do you think?  How would you make use of this tool?  Is it worth the upgrade to Excel 2013?  I would be really interested in your thoughts.

Taming the internet


Look at the graphic below from Penny Stocks – the size of the Internet is amazing. How does this affect us running or working in our businesses in our local town? How do you tame the Internet to ensure you are concentrating your marketing effort in the right place? There are a couple of approaches you could try (some better than others):

1. Have a presence on every tool and broadcast updates frequently with keywords in the hope that somebody will hear you. (Not a recommended approach).

2. Understand your audience (not only your customers, but also business partners, suppliers, influencers, brand ambassadors) and use the marketing channels on the Internet to talk to these people directly, engage with them and add value to their business.

3. Talk to people from all over the world who might be interested in your products or services – this can work if you have products or services to sell online or that can be delivered over the internet.  Find these people by developing relationships with key influencers.

4. Talk to people in your geographical area.  Concentrate on relationships with people in your local area and explore who else is using social networking channels in the area.

Which method works for your business?  Or do you use another approach?  Please share.

Click the image to open the interactive version (via Penny Stocks Lab).

Writing a book – is it worth the effort?


It is just over two years now since I first published ‘Social Media Made Simple‘.  I always encourage my clients to reflect on how successful their activities have been – and I thought it would be worth sharing my thoughts on the value of writing a book.

Social Media Made Simple

Of course, it takes time and effort to write a book – not to mention money to have it edited and designed.  I can’t even suggest the amount of time it took to actually write ‘Social Media Made Simple’ – though I remember I spent many hours writing it while waiting for my children to take part in various sports training sessions and competitions!  It was information that I knew about though – the information in the book was based on workshops that I delivered – which did make it easier I think.

I employed an editor to help me tidy up and proof read my writing and had the book professionally designed and laid out.  At the time, I made the decision to write a ‘work book’ and decided not to go down the ‘e-book’ route.  I have to admit that there have been times over the last couple of years when I have wondered whether that was the right decision, but I think it was – having an actual book is a better marketing tool since my branding is all over it.  The design and decision to use a spiral bound has made it easier to read and people do like being able to complete the exercises. Do think about using an e-book format for your book though – if it is mainly words rather than images / tables / charts, it might be worth creating an e-book version as it is cheaper to produce and easier to promote.

I was fortunate to be working with City & Guilds at the time I was about to publish my book.  I was part of a team working on the City and Guilds Social Media for Business qualification and one of the units I wrote – Principles of Social Media in Business was remarkably similar to the contents of my book :-).  City & Guilds were kind enough to endorse my book as one of the resources for the qualification!

The nature of social media being an ever changing environment meant that if I didn’t want the book to be out of date, I needed to update it regularly – we are now in the 3rd edition and I try to update it every time I order another print run.

So 2 years on – has it been successful? Well, I was never going to make my fortune out of ‘Social Media Made Simple’, but I’ve now sold over 500 copies.  That doesn’t sound many but I was told early on that selling 100 copies / year of a self published book was considered to be good and I recently read that the average self published book sells 250 copies, so I’m quite pleased with my 500 – particularly as I haven’t put a marketing campaign around it, but have relied on word of mouth sales.

It has been a good marketing tool and several people who have bought the book have now become clients, either buying my E-Learning courses or other social media services.  I’ve had good feedback that it is easy to read and a good introduction to social media. It is also good for my credibility – I like being a published author!

So, should you consider writing a book?  I would say that everybody has an area of expertise that you can share with others and writing a book is a good way of sharing that expertise.  However do consider it to be a marketing exercise and put a part of your marketing budget towards the cost of writing and printing it. Personally, I don’t give the book out for free though – I think people value something if they have to pay for it – and it costs quite a bit to get the books printed, partially due to the spiral bind that I have used.

If you don’t like writing, or you are not very good at writing, make a series of audio recordings of parts of your book and employ an editor to help you structure it and write it based on your recording. If you write regular blog posts, consider writing your book based on your blog posts.

Having a book does differentiate you from others.  Imagine I was choosing between two accountants – if, for a small amount of money, I could read the book that one of them had read – assuming that I liked the style and found it useful, which accountant am I most likely to choose?

What are your thoughts? Have you thought about writing a book?

Getting started with Twitter


I have been recently been asked for a beginner’s guide to getting started with Twitter.

1. You can look at what anybody is saying on Twitter without having to sign up for an account.  For example have a look at my profile

2. It is easier though, to sign up for an account and explore what people are saying.  Access and click Sign up for Twitter.

3. You will need to select a username, associate the profile with an email address and choose a password.  A username needs to be unique and a maximum of 15 characters.  Each Twitter name must have a unique email address.

4.If you just want to explore what Twitter can do for you, you may want to use a random username that can’t be associated with you.  If this is going to be your ‘real’ account, you need to use a name that can be recognised as your business name or your personal name (if you are using Twitter for personal use).  Usernames can be changed at a later date if you desire.  Read my blog post about the importance of usernames.

5. You will be asked by Twitter to upload a photo for your profile.  At some stage, you should upload a photo (either of you as a person or of your business brand to ensure that everybody knows who they are talking to.  You can skip this step for now though.

6. Twitter will also suggest that you follow other accounts.  You may be able to skip this step but sometimes it is worth choosing 5 accounts to get an idea of what people are saying on Twitter.

7. Once you have completed the sign up process, you will be taken to your Twitter ‘newsfeed’.  Here you will see what everybody you are following is saying.

Twitter Home Page

8. You can follow more people by using the search box at the top of Twitter and entering a name.  You may need to select People on the left hand side of the results to find the individual person or business you are looking for.  Click Follow once you have found the account you are seeking.  Be aware that they will be informed that you are following them.

9. Once you have followed an account, anything they say on Twitter will be displayed in your newsfeed.  Found by clicking Home on the left hand side.

10. You can also find people to follow by looking at who other people are following (or who is following them).  For example, look at my profile and click Following.  You will see a list of everybody I am following and you can choose who to Follow.  If you click Followers, you can see a list of everybody who is following me and you can choose who to Follow.

11. Twitter does have a language of its own.  Find out more about the language by watching this video.

12. To write your first tweet, click the blue box on the top right of the Twitter page.  Remember everything you say on Twitter is public and should be about 140 characters.

I hope this short guide gets you started with Twitter.  As your use of Twitter grows, you may want to use a 3rd party tool to make your use of Twitter more efficient.  I use HootSuite but others are available.  If you want to learn more about using Twitter, buy 12 months access to our comprehensive Twitter e-learning course which covers using HootSuite, what to say on Twitter, creating engagement with others, using Twitter advertising, measuring your use of Twitter and more.

Twitter Profile Changes


Have you noticed the latest changes to Twitter?  As many of you know, I use and recommend HootSuite to monitor my Twitter conversations and schedule tweets, but the latest changes to Twitter are interesting and worth knowing about.  If you login to you will be encouraged to change to the new profile – but what does it all mean?

Twitter Header New Profile

Twitter Header

The Twitter Header is more like a Facebook or Google+ cover photo rather than the square at the back of your profile picture and description.  You can use the Header to visually explain to your viewers what you are all about.  The recommended size of an image is 1500 x 500 pixels.  Twitter will attempt to resize your existing header if you have one. You can also select a theme colour which is the course used on the links within your profile.  You may in the past have selected a ‘background’ design which is now only visible on your view of

Twitter Profile Picture

Your profile picture appears to the left of your profile and is slightly larger.  The recommended size is now 400 x 400 pixels but Twitter will automatically resize a photo if possible.

Twitter BioTwitter bio

On the left hand side, your bio, location, website and date you joined Twitter are displayed.

Best TweetsTwitter best content

Your tweets that have received more engagement will appear slightly larger so will be easier for people to find.

Pinned TweetsPinned Tweet

You can pin one of your tweets to the top of your page to make it easier for you to promote certain events or offers.  To do this, choose the option under one of your tweets with the three dots …. and click Pin to your profile page.

Filtered Tweets

When you look at other people on Twitter, you can filter their tweets.  You can choose from:

  • Tweets
  • Tweets with photos/videos
  • Tweets and replies.

This will make it easier to see what somebody is saying without seeing half of a conversation.

I quite like the look and feel of the new Twitter – even though I use HootSuite, I do click through to Twitter profiles to learn more about individuals that I meet through my use of HootSuite – these changes will allow people to more easily show me why I should follow them.  What do you think of the new changes?  Let me know either using the comments below or share your new profile with me on Twitter @concisetraining.



Are exhibitions a cost effective form of marketing?


During my nearly six years in business I have only exhibited a handful of times.  The exhibitions I did try were generally badly attended and didn’t lead to much new business. As a result I’ve been highly sceptical of the benefit. However, I do see the benefit (and I enjoy :-)) standing in front of a group of people and talking about social media (it is what I do all the time).

Last October, I noticed a call for speakers for the Berkshire Means Business event and immediately volunteered to speak.  Of course I needed to purchase an exhibition stand and thought that I would take the risk. The stand wasn’t outrageously priced and I thought it would be worth getting the opportunity to present.

So, I attended Berkshire Means Business yesterday.  I have to say it was really well Berkshire Means Business Exhibitionorganised and well attended.  The stands were comprised of a 3 sides of a box (if that makes sense) so leaflets, brochures etc. could be stuck to the sides and each stand had a defined area.  Lunch was provided along with tea/coffee vouchers and the lunch was a ‘proper lunch’ – sandwich, crisps, fruit, chocolate and drink!  Thanks to Gemma and her team at BMG Events for fantastic organisation.

My 30 minute presentation was in a fantastic space overlooking Reading football pitch with a good sized screen and lapel mic.  My presentation was well attended and I got good feedback both face to face and through Twitter.  You can see my slides here.

During the day, I sold some of my ‘Social Media Made Simple‘ books and made a significant number of contacts (attendees and exhibitors) which I will follow up over the course of the next few days.

So has it been worth it?  My gut feel says that it will be. Taking into account the cost of the time to attend as well as the cost to exhibit, we will need to get a few new clients to see a return, so only time will tell, but as a brand awareness exercise it was very successful.

What is your experience of exhibiting?  Please share.

LinkedIn Changes – Company Pages & Publisher


You may have noticed LinkedIn has changed again over the last few weeks.  Read on to find out how you will be affected:

LinkedIn Company Pages

The products and services page on LinkedIn company pages will be removed from April 14. (If you set up a new company page now you won’t see the products and services option).  For most people this won’t be a problem, but if you have received recommendations of your products / services, you will want to save the them!  To do this, you will need to copy the recommendation into a Word document so that you can use it on promotional or marketing material or in an update.  (You should get permission from the person who made the recommendation to use it).  Follow my company page to get my company updates.

LinkedIn Publishing

I have been given access to the publishing platform on LinkedIn.  This means that I canLinkedIn Publisher write a blog style post within LinkedIn which is shared across LinkedIn as well as being displayed on my profile.  You can sign up to get access to the publishing platform here.

Every week LinkedIn tells me how many people saw, liked or commented on my post.  People can also share the post on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+). I assume the more people who comment, like or share, the more likely LinkedIn is to show the post to others.

I’m undecided on how I’m personally going to use this. Information that I post within LinkedIn needs to be added value and different from the information that I post on this blog.

On the one hand, posting on LinkedIn will potentially get my personal profile in front of more people throughout the LinkedIn network and may increase my network of contacts. So long as the posts I offer add value and promote conversation I should get comments, share and views.  By including my relevant links at the bottom of the post, I could encourage people to come to my website.

On the other hand by posting information on my blog and sharing across networks, I am getting people to come and look round my website and by others sharing content from the website, I am encouraging Google to think the website has quality content and therefore Google will promote the site in search results.

I post to my blog every week – personally I will struggle to find the time or to have the content ideas to post regularly on my blog and directly on LinkedIn.

I guess (like with all social media) it comes down to what would be my aims for using the tool – do I want to build my personal brand and credibility or do I want to search results and people visiting the website?  These reasons are not mutually exclusive by any means – more to ponder on I feel.

Over to you

I would love to know your thoughts both on the changes to company profiles and the new option to publish on LinkedIn.  Please use the comments below – and do share this post if you find it useful :-)



Content in the form of e-Books


Following on my recent posts about planning content, topics to share and my recent radio interview, I wanted to share another form of content that I have been creating during the last few months.

Last summer, I was approached by Sophie from BookBoon about writing a series of eBooks. BookBoon offer “a large range of quality eBooks for university students and business professionals”. Many of their books are available for free and contain adverts, others are available advert free for a small fee. As the author I get a small percentage of advertising or purchase costs.

So far, I have published two eBooks with BookBoon:

Using Social Media for Personal Gain

Using Social Media for Personal GainThis is aimed at individuals who want to know how to use social media on a personal level. It looks at an individual’s personal brand and how this should be reflected on a range of social media tools. The idea behind the book is to describe the advantages and disadvantages of a variety of tools.  Obviously the main ones are discussed (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), but I also wanted individuals to understand how they could use applications like blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, WhatsApp, Snapchat, YouTube and others.

A review of the book

“This book is perfect for those who want to be more productive in an accessible way. Social media is a powerful tool and this book will lead you somewhere you can be someone

I’ve recently been told that the book was downloaded 26,000 times from 1/1/14 to 28/2/14 – quite a good marketing tool! I know for a fact that the book was downloaded by somebody in Ireland who subsequently purchased my printed book, ‘Social Media Made Simple‘ and then bought my E-Learning LinkedIn course.

He also referred ‘Social Media Made Simple’ to others “I have been trying for a long time to find a book or publication which explains in a simple way an approach to social media for small businesses. I have spend a good deal of money on books but didn’t come up with anything that I considered user friendly until now.

Not a bad result for publishing an eBook on BookBoon.

You can get your copy of ‘Using Social Media for Personal Gain’ here for £2.54 (you get a small discount using my link). If you enjoy it, I would be grateful if you would leave a review on the BookBoon site. :-)

Word 2013

Word 2013My latest publication is a book about Word 2013. There are lots of books about using Word available, so I decided to make this book a step by step journey through each of the commands in the Word 2013 ribbon. I learnt a lot by writing the book and I hope that it can be used as a useful reference guide by others.  On the first afternoon of publication, it received 1300 downloads – so hopefully it will be as successful as ‘Using Social Media for Personal Gain’.

A review of the book

Very easy to follow, I would highly recommend it!

You can purchase your copy here for £3.39.  If you find it useful, I would again appreciate it if you would leave a review.

What Next?

I’m currently working on Advanced Word 2013 and Excel 2013 is in the pipeline.  It does take time to write the books and I pay the wonderful Alison Neale, the Proof Fairy for proofreading. The revenue generated from the books will cover my costs, but not my time. However in terms of marketing it has been a great way of getting my brand out there and it has directly led to business already. As with all content, once it is written, it will be generating marketing opportunities for many years to come.

Your Turn

I chose to write a full length book and publish on BookBoon. This is an extreme case and may not be for everybody! You may just want to write a short eBook or pamphlet to publish on your website or distribute via social media or give to prospective clients as a follow up to a meeting. There are all sorts of ways you can use the eBook once it is created and don’t forget that you can reuse snippets from it all over your social media. If you want to know more about publishing with BookBoon or planning, writing and distributing content let me know – or add your comments below.

Social media content – why not podcast?


In the last few weeks, I’ve been talking about finding content to share on social media starting with the importance of a content plan. The advantages of content are many, including:

  • Sharing good quality content helps to make your social media updates interesting and adds value to your audience
  • Quality content can be good for search engine optimisation – if people share content from your website, it indicates to Google that you have a good quality website which inevitable pushes your website up in the search rankings
  • Sharing relevant tips and educating your audience adds to your credibility
  • Your content may be found when people search for the keywords you used – this is long lasting. Content I wrote many years ago can be still be found on Google search

Admittedly, it can sometimes be difficult to find content which I discussed in 5 ways to find content to share. It is also important to think about creating content in a variety of ways.

The Knowing Your Business ShowA couple of weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to be interviewed live by Julie Cooper on the Knowing Your Business radio show about the social media qualification that I offer and how I have grown my training business.


This was a fantastic opportunity to get my message out to a different group of people and I now have a podcast that I can distribute on my social media links and via my website.

The podcast gives people another chance to get to know the person behind the business and understand my brand and values. Yes, it was a bit nerve racking being interviewed ‘live’, but actually it was just a telephone conversation about my business – if I can’t talk about my business who can?

You can listen to my interview here and do contact Ian Gentles at if you are interested in this opportunity for your business.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Using Getty images in blog posts


I tell clients a blog post should contain an image if possible.  Why?

  • To make the blog post more attractive and easier to read
  • When the post is shared on social media, an image generates interest
  • Images can be pinned onto Pinterest boards to increase visibility
  • An optimised image may help with search engine optimisation of the post
  • Including an image can help to get more likes and shares of the post across social media

However, many of my clients ask where they can find images. It is important to use copyright free images to avoid being sued for large amounts of money and it can become costly to buy images from iStock or similar.  Using your own image is the best solution but can be time consuming or difficult. I generally use copyright free images from stock.xchng but I was intrigued to learn about last week’s changes to Getty Images.

Getty Images have introduced an Embed tool so that it is “legal and free for anybody to share our images on websites, blogs and social media platform“.

To use the tool, you search Getty images for relevant keywords.  When you find an image that you like, roll your mouse over the image, if the image has five buttons at the bottom with this button embed button on the right, you can use the image with no copyright issues so long as you follow the following steps:

Click the button and copy the code that you are given.

embed code

To include the code in your post, you will need to click on the HTML source code for your post.  In WordPress, you can find this by clicking the Text tab at the top right hand corner of the post.

Paste the copied code into the appropriate place in your post.  To change the size of the image, change the width and height numbers in the code.  Change back to the Visual version of your post to complete the text.  Note the image is not shown until you publish or preview the post – you will probably see a yellow box.

Potential Issues with Using Getty Images

Sounds great but like any free service, you need to be aware of the potential issues.

1. The images cannot be used for “commercial use”.  The actual wording is

You may only use embedded Getty Images Content for editorial purposes (meaning relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest).

Embedded Getty Images Content may not be used:

(a) for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship;

(b) in violation of any stated restriction;

(c) in a defamatory, pornographic or otherwise unlawful manner; or

(d) outside of the context of the Embedded Viewer

I would take this to mean that I can use a Getty image in blog posts to illustrate an opinion but not to sell a product or service.  So I wouldn’t use an embed image from Getty as a thumbnail for one of my e-learning courses for example, but can include them in a blog post.

2. What Next

The terms and conditions also say

Getty Images (or third parties acting on its behalf) may collect data related to use of the Embedded Viewer and embedded Getty Images Content, and reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetise its use without any compensation to you.

So Getty may show adverts before showing the image in a similar way to YouTube.

3. Longevity

Getty can pull an image at a moment’s notice. So your blog post could be left with an empty space if you don’t keep a close eye on what is going on.

I’m not sure whether I will use many Getty images, they aren’t so easy to position on the post as a standard image and I am concerned about the long term effects.  One to keep an eye on perhaps – what do you think?


5 ways to find content to share on social media


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on the importance of a social media content plan as a way of planning your original content.  I’ve been asked by a number of people for tips on how to find content to share on social media – so some suggestions:

1. Frequently asked questions
This is one of the easiest ways to get content ideas.  Every time one of your customers asks you a question about your product or service, write down the answer.  Questions may be asked by telephone, email or face to face – write them all down.  Now answer the questions on social media updates.  So for example, I often get asked – “Which social media tools should I use?”.  The answer is “It depends on your audience, your business, your aims and your resources” – an easy one to share on social media.

2. Go back to basics
Think about the really obvious things that are related to your product or service.  What are the things that you know that others might forget?  A typical example of me going back to basics is ‘Remember to thank everybody who mentions or shares your updates on social media”.  Not rocket science but loads of people forget to do it – and an easy status update for me to publish.

3. What should people ask if they need your product or service
If somebody is looking for your product or service, what questions should they ask to make sure that they are receiving value for money and getting the correct service?  You shouldn’t sell your qualities implicitly but it will inevitably happen.  In my case, I would want people to find out whether their potential social media trainer actually has a training qualification.

4. Share articles you have read
You might have recently read an interesting article that is relevant to your product or service or more widely relevant to your audience.  Share the article on your social media to add value and interest to your updates

5. Share your knowledge
Don’t be afraid to give away useful information.  It feels wrong to give away your “secrets” but in reality you won’t be giving away everything, just enough to show your credibility, build trust in your brand and get people wanting more.  Typical examples are all these blog entries I’m writing.

So 5 ways to get you started – there are loads more.  Can you share any that have worked for you?

The importance of a social media content plan


Do you know what you are going to talk to your social media audience about next week? How much do you plan your social media content?

Choosing the right tools for your audience, your aims and your resources is, in my opinion, crucial to getting success from social media.  Equally, if not more, important is knowing what you are going to say using the tools!  Your content should be made up of three parts

  • Your original content in which you add value to your audience.
  • Content posted by others which you share to provide interest to your audience and to build relationships with the businesses whose content you are sharing.
  • Replies to those you are following as relevant

Much of your original content can be created and even posted ahead of time. You should plan what you are going to say in status updates and blog entries, write the content and schedule it to be published.  Not only does this have the benefit of you having a presence on social media even when work gets crazy but also allows you to proof read and double check your content before it goes out, making sure you apply the ‘So What?’ text.  You can also spread the load of creating content amongst your team.

This is all very well, but this still doesn’t solve the problem about what you are going to write about…..

I suggest you brainstorm a number of topics based on questions that your audience are Content Planconcerned about or your customers are asking you.  For example, taking a web design agency, you could start with the following themes:

  • Content Management systems
  • Blogging
  • SEO
  • User Interface
  • Etc.

Taking the topic of Content Management Systems, you could further break this down into:

  • 6 features of a content management system
  • 5 ways to tell if you need a content management system
  • 4 different content management systems
  • How to update your content management system
  • Etc.

Taking the first topic, ‘6 features of a content management system’, think about what content you could create from this and where the content should be created.  How about:

  • A blog post (Blog)
  • A status update to the blog post (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+)
  • 6 status updates – one for each feature (Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • A video showing the features using a screen recorder (YouTube)
  • 6 images, each showing a feature (Facebook, Google+)
  • Newsletter with a summary of the blog post linking to the full post (Newsletter)
  • Etc.

In this way, you can quickly generate a variety of updates that you can spread through the week or the month giving people interesting and useful information.  Remember you can repeat links to blog posts or status updates over a period of time – don’t only post once.  Don’t post the same tip on all your different tools at the same time – mix it up a bit.  You could even create an E-book made up of a number of blog posts and allow people to download the information in return for their e-mail address.

In this way, you can generate loads of content that can be written and scheduled in advance. You will still need to access social media to share and reply in real time – but believe me the pressure is off.  Of course if things happen in the world that makes your content irrelevant – remember to change the schedule!

If you need help creating your content or scheduling your posts and managing your engagement, we offer this as a service.  Contact me if you would like to know more.

I would love to know how you plan your content – do share in the comments below.

LinkedIn Company Page Changes


There have recently been a few changes to LinkedIn company pages to make them more useful.  It might be worth having a look:

See all Companies you are Following

By clicking Interests > Companies from the main menu, you can see updates from all the companies you are following.  On the right you will see those companies you have administration rights to.

Showcase Pages

Showcase pages are a way of creating sub pages under your company profile. For example, I am LinkedIn Showcase Pagesworking with a client who has an audience in the UK, the Netherlands and Finland. The audience in the Netherlands and Finland appreciate being able to communicate with the company in their own language. By using showcase pages, the client can create the main page in English and then two showcase pages – 1 in Dutch and the other in Finnish. Their audience can choose to follow the main page or one of the showcase pages depending what updates they are interested in.

For smaller businesses, showcase pages may not be appropriate as they may split your audience but if you have a separate set of products / services and /or distinct audiences, they may be worth looking at.  To create a showcase page, look at your page as an administrator and click the dropdown next to Edit.

Change the Image on a Shared Link

When you share an update with a link to a website, LinkedIn will automatically attempt to LinkedIn companies choose imageretrieve information from the website including introductory text and an image. In the past this has caused problems with arbitrary images appearing.  You can now change the image that will be displayed next to the link.  To change the image, include the link in the usual way, hover over the current image and choose Upload Image.

Engage as a Page

When somebody engages on an update on your page, you can Like or Comment on the interaction as your page.  This is a great way to continue the conversation without administrators having to use their personal profile.

Are you using company profiles to engage with your audience?  They can be a useful way of getting your message out to more people.  Let me know what you think of the latest changes.  If you need help using LinkedIn better, you may want to take a look at our LinkedIn E-Learning course.

Have you used LinkedIn Ads?


This week, I have been experimenting more with LinkedIn Ads.  I have used sponsored updates to promote content to a targeted group of people.

Why did I do this?

A recent update on my company page (which I shared on my individual profile) got quite a bit of engagement so I thought I would use ads to get the update in front of a larger group of people.

What did I do?

I had already signed up for LinkedIn ads a few months ago when I linked my credit Sponsor Updatecard and paid the $4 set up fee.  I just needed to view my company page and chose Sponsor Update below the update that I wanted to promote.

The next steps were to choose Sponsored Updates, name the campaign and choose which updates to sponsor.  I selected two updates so I could compare the results of each. Now I could choose a target audience.  In my case, I chose to target people in the United Kingdom with Social Media in their skill set, but you can choose by gender, title, group, company or age.

I ran the update with a budget of $15 / day and a total budget of $75.

Sponsored Update

What was the result?

The sponsored update has been running for 3 days, it has been seen by 3,055 people, had 16 clicks and 4 people have requested a follow up.  The clicks cost about  $3 / click with a click through rate of 0.52%.  I have obtained one new follower of my page.

Would I do it again?

I have been impressed with the results.  If 1 of the interested people eventually turns into a customer, it would have been well worth the money spent.  So yes, I will repeat the process but probably not for another few months.  It is important to think about what you are promoting – I was promoting my social media qualification, but you could also offer a free download of a white paper or help sheet.  You may want to offer this in return for an email address.

Over to you

Have you used LInkedIn ads?  We would love to hear your experiences – use the comment section below.  Of course, if you need any help, you know where I am :-)

How has Social Media affected the Direct Mail industry?


Do you ever look at the physical “junk mail” that comes through your letter box?  Or the email newsletters that pop into your inbox?  These are all categorised as ‘direct mail’. If you maintain a database of customers and send information to those customers in the form of newsletters, catalogues, special offers and other merchandising material, then you are sending direct mail.

Concise Training BrochureDoes direct mail still have a place in the days of social media?  Has social media affected the direct mail industry? Direct mail is certainly on decline and some would argue no – social media is a cheaper way of getting your message out to a larger group of people. I must admit, I do wonder why I am receiving some of the direct mail – it frequently has no relevance to me.

However, direct mail can work really well if done with thought and care as these statistics show. In these days of instant messages and overload of general information, I still get a sense of enjoyment or even excitement when opening a personalised letter – particularly if it feels nice – the feel of the envelope or letter gives an immediate impression.  I also value helpful and interesting email newsletters.

But the contents of the mailing need to be relevant to me.  Even better if the company has already made a relationship through social media or personally through networking.

Direct mail can work really well in conjunction with social media.  You can also use information gained from social media to build your database so your direct mail campaigns are targeted more effectively.  Use social media to alert consumers to look out for a new direct mail campaign and use direct mail to drive traffic to your social media sites.

For example, imagine an accountancy firm who had been engaging with me on social media and got to know my business.  They could send me a regular “personalised” letter, giving me a list of tips or the latest regulations I need to comply with based on what I have been saying on social media, along with their product or service offering and how they could benefit me.  I might not change accountants immediately but I think I would be more likely to further engage with them on social media or recommend them to others if I found their offering relevant.

I think that social media is changing the direct mail industry for the better.  But what do you think? Do you use direct mail in your business? It would be great if you could share.


What is your social media resolution?


Happy Belated New Year to all my customers / contacts / friends.  What were your New Year resolutions?  I hope that at least some of you have a resolution to rethink your Social Media!  Do have a look at our updated online courses if you need help.  They have been updated to work on tablets as well as to include updates that have happened in social media.

I was watching Sherlock a few weeks ago – there was a bit that showed how Twitter was meant to have gone crazy with the news that Sherlock was dead – (#sherlockdead). It struck me how Twitter and other social media platforms are as normal as “Google” now – depicted in TV programmes and films.

Consumers are developing an expectation of social media.  If somebody wants to find out about your business, they will look on your website and then have a look on your social media channels – see what you are saying and who you are talking to.  What will your potential customers find out about you? How does what you say reflect on the brand and values of your business.  How much value do you add?

I did a quick review of a client today.  I started off with their website and then looked at Schedule Updatesall of their social media channels.  They had some fantastic content that was created a few months ago on YouTube but they weren’t telling anybody about it!  This isn’t unusual.  Most people have a real fear of over promoting content – “I’ve just posted a link to that piece of content so I don’t need to tell everybody again”.  I know, I’m guilty as charged – I only post links to my blog posts the day after I publish my blog.  However unless the content is time specific there is no harm in reminding people it is there.

My own New Year resolution is to schedule updates to link to blogs or other content several times over the weeks or months after I have initially published.

What is your New Year resolution for social media?  I’d love to know in the comments below and of course do let me know if I can help you implement it!

Interview with Tola Popoola


Number thirty-two of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Tola Popoola.

Who are you and what do you do?

I run Chocolat A Toi.  We sell personalised chocolates and luxury gift boxes.

Tola Popoola


How do you use Social Media?

I have young children so it is difficult to get out to meet business people so I use social media for networking and marketing.  I have found social media perfect for meeting new people.

I use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+.  LinkedIn is used on a more professional basis, Twitter is more relaxed and Facebook is much more relaxed.  I use Pinterest and Instagram to share photos.  I use the tools to meet people, have a chat and build a relationship.  I spend about an hour a day on social media.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

Wow! Loads!  I started my business in 2009 and it has been entirely built on social media.  Without social media, the business would not have grown.  When I started I put a question out on a forum to see what people thought of the business idea and people told me to go for it.  Some of the people I met on Twitter at the beginning became my first customers; others helped me with the business.  People shared content to help me build a business plan.  Overall social media has generated many leads and business and helped me be found on Google search.

Twitter has been the most successful tool – but then, it is where I spend the most time.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Where do I start?

  1. Give it a try
  2. Treat social media as a virtual networking event.  Don’t treat it as a playground.  If you take social media seriously as you would any other marketing activity (e.g. creating an advert in the paper), then you will get good results.

Contact Information

You can contact Tola on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Chocolat A Toi

Choosing a name for a new business


During the last few months I have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of people who are starting new business ventures.  This is fantastic and I hope indicates an upturn in confidence which should help us all to grow.

In all the excitement of starting a business, I am fascinated about how people Business namego about choosing a name for a new business.  I know how much thought and heartache was put into the name of my business over 5 years ago and the process is so much harder now.  If you are in the position now of choosing a name for a new business in 2014, you might want to think about:

1. Your Brand

What is the brand of your business? What values or feelings do you want the name to convey?  In my case I deliver ‘Training’ and I intend the training to be immediate, relevant or ‘Concise’.  The name doesn’t work so well for my new social media content management service – but we are working on that!

2. Keywords

Can you use a name that includes relevant keywords?  It may be harder to identify a unique name to include your keywords – but if possible, it could make your search engine ranking easier to achieve.  Training in my business name certainly doesn’t do any harm.

3. Memorable

Is the name easy to remember?  Try to avoid names that are difficult to spell.  I still have problems with people incorrectly spelling ‘Concise’.

4. Available Domain

Is the business name available as a domain name?  Use 123reg or GoDaddy to find out whether the domain name is available.  I wouldn’t recommend using hyphens in the domain name as it can make it harder for your visitors to remember.  I use .net rather than for reasons I can’t remember but I do actually have the as well. Consider buying a number of different versions and using redirects.

5. Available Social Media

This is the one that many people still forget.  You can have the best business name in the world with an available domain but if the social media equivalents (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) are not available you could be in danger of diluting your brand and harming your brand awareness.  I was lucky – I started out early on the social media tools.

What do you think?  Do you have any other tips for choosing the name for your business? Please add them to the comments below.

Good luck to anybody starting out on the exciting journey of running a new business!


Have you used Places Pins on Pinterest?


I find Pinterest a difficult site to use on a personal level.  I’m not a big shopper and personally don’t have the time or inclination to search Pinterest for things to buy or collect ‘nice’ images.  However I know Pinterest really works for business.

Oxfordshire Pinterest MapI’m excited though about the new Pinterest Place pins both on a personal level and for business.

Using the Place Pins you can build up a map with interesting places to visit, eat and either use it on a mobile when you are out and about or share it with others.  Have a look at my Board about Oxfordshire

You start by choosing a city and then can add points of interest or places to eat by selecting (images) Pins that have already been added to Pinterest or uploading your own image.  If you want to add somewhere that has no pins on Pinterest, you will need to upload an image first and then pin it to your map.

Now this could prove useful for me when planning holidays.  But imagine if you are a tourism business or in the hotel industry.  You could create a Pinterest Board informing people about your area and where to go.  Restaurants could also make use of it.  Have a look at these ways the travel industry has already started to make use of place pins.

As an e-commerce site, how about creating a map to show people where your products are sourced from or ask people to pin images to your map where they were when they used your item?  Pin the places that sell your product perhaps?  The ideas are endless.

Let us know how you are going to use Place Pins.


Identify our target audience


My wonderful marketing co-ordinator Viv and I, took time out this morning to review what marketing we are currently doing, identify our target audience and think about how we can improve the way we make people aware of our various products and services.

MarketingI continually tell clients to review their current marketing, what they are doing and who they are marketing to, but I rarely take time to do it myself!  It is a typical “painter who never finishes painting his house” scenario. So I decided now Viv has been with me for a few months, it was time to do what I preached!

In reality, we aren’t quite that bad. Since Viv has joined the team, we have a much larger presence on social media and have already developed new leads as a result. What I wanted to do today was to identify a more specific target audience for the various products and services that we offer and how to generate more awareness for the product and service as well as focus on marketing the benefits of the product or service.

Security on Google+ UpdatesFor example, we have a range of detailed interactive E-Learning courses in each of the social media tools. The courses are selling, but we would like to sell more and get them seen by a larger audience.

So who would be the typical customer for our E-Learning courses? This was an easy one to profile as Viv identified herself (or any sole trader). Before Viv started to work for Concise Training, she had her own graphical design business. To market the business, she spent money on Yell, Google Adwords and other advertising networks because she was told it was a good idea. She spent nearly £1000 a year with little response. A significant investment for a small business. She has young children, so attending training workshops and networking events are tricky.

So clearly an audience for our E-Learning courses would be sole traders, start-ups and people working at home.

Identifying our customer profile also helped us to identify the benefits of our E-Learning courses to our target audience:

  • Save money. For a small initial investment you can control your own message, do your own marketing and build brand awareness with a larger number of people.
  • Get immediate feedback on what is working. On social media you can see immediately which updates get the most engagement, leads or shares.
  • The courses are updated twice a year so you can update yourself with changes in marketing.
  • You have access to the courses for 12 months. Even though Viv has been using social media on behalf of Concise Training for a few months, she still revisits the courses to refresh herself on particular techniques
  • Work at your pace in your office. You have to be motivated to do the learning – but I think this comes naturally to anybody in business. These courses mean that you can learn in the evenings / weekends or anywhere you have a broadband connection. From January they will be available on tablets.

The next steps were to identify how best to reach this group of people and how best to tell them about the benefits of the courses – I’m not going to give away all my secrets, but give me a call if you want to know more!

We went through this process for all our products and services and then set targets for next year that we could both work towards to ensure the business continues to grow.

A useful morning that we are going to repeat on a quarterly basis. It is easy to think that there is too much work to spend time working on the business and planning – but it is worth doing to ensure that everybody in the business is working on the same page. And we finished with a nice lunch which always makes the day seem better!

What planning have you done on your business recently?

Not so joined up social media marketing


Jack Wills Logo

Image Source:

My teenage daughter is a big fan of Jack Wills – the clothing store – and I must admit so am I, as a mother. Although the clothes are pricey, they are easy to wash and last for a decent time. So Jack Wills generally features on my daughter’s lengthy Christmas and birthday lists!

I hadn’t got round to thinking about Christmas yet – though I have recently been handed a first draft of her list by said daughter! Last Saturday, my daughter emailed me a voucher from Jack Wills with the message “Sorry for the problems with our website, here is a 25% off voucher to spend this weekend online or in store”. I hadn’t known that there was a problem – but bonus – I’ll get to save some money – or perhaps appear to be more generous than normal!

All weekend I tried to get on to the website – which continued to be down – very frustrating. Looking at Jack Wills’ Twitter and Facebook accounts – a load of other people got frustrated too. To be fair, somebody sat in the Jack Wills’ offices all weekend replying to each individual person with the same message “we are trying our hardest to fix. code FRIEND is valid in store & online until tomorrow EOD. Apologies again”.

Unfortunately whoever was responsible for the Facebook page didn’t get the message about the website being down and carried on suggesting that people buy the wonderful new stock – and pointing to the website  – which of course was still down!

The website continued to be down yesterday – or it certainly was when I tried it. The voucher has now run out and there are no signs of it being reinstated. A tweet to Jack Wills got the response to email them which I did early this morning. Unfortunately 7 1/2 hours later I have had no response. Looks like I won’t look as generous this Christmas after all.

Now, this won’t put me off buying Jack Wills – heck we all know that technology doesn’t always work – but I thought it is an interesting example of not so joined up social media marketing. Lessons to learn?

1. Make sure that all your i’s are dotted and t’s crossed before reacting to a situation. Jack Wills shouldn’t have sent out the voucher – until the website had been thoroughly tested.

2. Make sure that the entire marketing department knows about any issues that are occurring. The Jack Wills Facebook page shouldn’t have carried on posting links to their website.

3. If you suggest a solution, make sure you are prepared to follow it through. Jack Wills asked me to email them, but haven’t responded.

4. Consider how you can make it up to your disappointed customers to get them to spend with you.  Due to the 25% off – they would have got quite a big order out of me – now, not so much!

Have you got any examples of not so joined up social media marketing you would like to share?

Update 3/12/13

Jack Wills contacted me today.  They phoned me (a week after the incident) to tell me that they would honour the voucher.  I had bought the original item over the weekend, but to be fair, they refunded 25% of the cost of the item, refunded postage and give me 25% off and free postage on anything I ordered whilst on the phone.  In the end, excellent customer service – but still should have happened quicker :-)

Interview with Livvie Matthews


Number thirty-one of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Livvie Matthews from the US.

Who are you and what do you do?

Hello Mary and thank you for the opportunity to share with your viewers here at Concise Training!  You and I share a passion for social media, Mary, so it’s exciting to be here sharing with you and your viewers.

I’m a Client Attraction Coach specialising in Social Media and Online Marketing. I have a strong 30 year background in the world of dentistry and patient relations.

During my dental years, I placed a strong emphasis on patient relations… put out many fires… I’ve worn many hats… resolved many issues and problems… and calmed many fears… while welcoming new patients into “the family” and…  I’ve loved every minute of it!

Then social media came on the scene.  My background in patient relations and my love for internet marketing… made client/patient attraction with social media and online marketing my ideal arena!

I’m passionate about helping small business owners learn how to become magnets and draw more clients and patients into their space using the incredible power of Social Media and Online Marketing.

Since 2006 I have provided solutions for self-employed service professionals, small business owners and entrepreneurs, just like your viewers, Mary, who struggle with knowing how to market more effectively,… how to increase their income… and would like to get more clients and patients consistently.  I originally started working with dental practices because of my background, now what sets me apart is I only work with small self-employed business professionals and I only coach on Client Attraction using Social Media and Online Marketing for drawing clients to you and growing your business.

Livvie Matthews

How do you use Social Media?

I love using social media as a magnet for drawing my market and connecting with ideal clients but more importantly I use social media as a way my market can connect with me.

Mary as you and I know, social media has made a huge difference in how we market and it’s levelled the playing field for the big guys and the little guys.

I like to put tips and strategy posts out that help my viewers market their business and helps them get new clients…

But I also love using social media for asking questions business and personal to draw viewers into conversations so we can get to know one another and build a relationship.

Relationships are what social media is all about.

I spend a few hours each day on Social Media.  I schedule posts on each of the tools, but make sure I go in 3 or 4 times a day to make connections and engage in real time.  The main tools I use are

  • Facebook
    I post 5 or 6 times a day on my Page, not so much from my personal profile.  I realised that when I was posting business updates from my personal profile, I was actually spamming my friends and family – some of whom may have got fed up and hidden my posts.  So now I only do 1 or 2 updates a day from my personal profile and every so often remind people to follow my business page.
  • Twitter
    Twitter is so fast paced.  You can post now and repost in 4 or 5 hours and reach a totally different audience.  I also like the links that you can use in Twitter posts.
  • Instagram
    I love Instagram for quotes and personal pictures – it allows people to see more about me as a person
  • LinkedIn
    I find LinkedIn good for B2B but use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for B2C.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

Well, Mary, as some of you know, due to an allergic reaction to his blood pressure medication my husband was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease –ESRD (kidney disease) resulting in his becoming a dialysis patient plus the reaction to the medication caused severe eye problems resulting in limited vision as well.

Add to that I had recently been let go from my job at the dental practice I was working in which created a real shock. All these situations brought about many changes and adjustments in our lives.

As a result of all this, I don’t travel to attend live meetings and therefore I’m not in the “networking” scene.   So everything I’ve been able to accomplish with my business has been though the use of online marketing and social media.   I’ve met many people online… and can even call them friends, like you Mary… that I would never have met…even if I had been at a live meeting, through the use of social media.

On the financial side.  I was very excited when I helped a client of mine, a dentist in California, get his social profiles into place and helped him create his business and personal pages on Facebook.

Then I received an email from him about 3 weeks after his page had gone live that he’d had a new patient come into his practice because of finding him on Facebook, she liked what she read and saw on his Facebook page, became a new patient, and as a results… entered into a rather large cosmetic makeover case.

These are just a couple of reasons why and how social media is so powerful.

No matter where you are with your business, just starting out… established… or going to the next level….social media can help ramp it up and take you where you want to go!

Can you give our readers a top tip?

OH, that’s a good one!

  1. Make it a priority to always be marketing your business… do at least 1 item to market your business every day.  It might be a follow up phone call, handing out business cards wherever you go, post your opt-in offer for building your subscriber list…. 1 marketing item every day.
  2. ALWAYS acknowledge your viewers…. Comment and reply to anyone who has connected with you on your social sites.  Even if you just simply click the little hyperlinked Like underneath their post….
  3. Be consistent with your profiles/bio, and picture on all your social platforms.
  4. Get out there in a BIG way…  Be seen all over the social networks
  5. AND LAST….  TAKE ACTION!!  Don’t wait until everything it perfect, because it won’t ever be exactly the way you want it.

Mary, I can’t tell you how many opportunities I missed out on because I wanted to analysis this.. then analysis that, then… I wanted to analysis my analysis!!!  By that time the opportunity had passed.

Take action… it’s OK to make mistakes, …. you can always tweak it later.

Contact Information

You can contact Livvie on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook Page, Facebook Personal Profile, Instagram, Simple Social Media

Using LinkedIn to find a job


LinkedIn is a fantastic tool to promote your skills and knowledge but also a tool that LinkedIncan do untold damage to the way people think about you and your personal brand.

Think about the process of job hunting for a professional role.  Not the easiest process by any stretch of the imagination – but a process that has changed so much in the 20 years that I have been working.

Even 5 years ago, the main way to find a job would be to troll through job boards and contact recruitment consultants.  You then sent off a CV and hope that it didn’t get lost in a black hole. I remember being told to “always follow up with a phone call” so that you get a voice associated with your CV.  It wasn’t always easy to get through to the right person.  How things have changed…..

If you are looking for a job now, you can create a relationship with the recruitment consultant or business you want to work in using LinkedIn.  You can find which of your contacts have friends who work in the same business you want to get employment with – or work in the business themselves.  You can get the ‘inside track’.  You can tell a wide network of people that you are looking for work – not just your immediate friends down the pub.

But what if your profile isn’t complete?  This is like sending an empty CV to the recruitment consultant in the old days.  Why would somebody employ you if you can’t be bothered to have a good picture taken or tell people about the difference you made in the last job that you did or where you went to school? Unless you tell people what you are looking for and how you can help their business to grow, why would they think of recommending you for the new role that they have heard about?

Obvious isn’t it – but I have lost count of the number of incomplete profiles that I have seen.  There are other things to think about too – in terms of deepening relationships with others, participating in groups, using status updates to share your knowledge and using the jobs board within LinkedIn.

LinkedIn for Jobseekers E-Learning course

None of it is rocket science, but if you would like some help to do it well and find that next job – invest in some time to learn how to use LinkedIn to find your job.  We have just released our latest E-Learning course – LinkedIn for Jobseekers to help you.  This course can be taken on a desktop or a tablet device.

Interview with Paul Dean


Number thirty of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Paul Dean.

Who are you and what do you do?

My business is Crimson Leaf and I write for businesses in the UK and overseas specialising in online marketing.  This includes website content, blogs and social media updates.  I also write brochures, business letters and other marketing collateral.

Paul Dean

How do you use Social Media?

I get all my business from working online.  I share useful information on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn to get my name and brand out there.  I am careful not to advertise my services too much but find by sharing and adding value, business comes to me.  I used to use forums but don’t use them as much now.

I find Facebook is the tool I use most.  I use my personal profile for personal and business use.  My Facebook page is all business but whatever I post on my Facebook page, I share on my personal timeline.  I did use Twitter but have found it difficult to be as constant as I need to be to make myself visible.

I have joined Wealthy Affiliate – a internet marketing group – and have written a number of articles for the group to help others which have resulted in enquiries and work from people within the group.

I use LinkedIn on a more ad-hoc basis than I should.

I have started using Pinterest recently to pin images that I have included in my articles as well as images from others.  I’ve started to get repins but I’m not sure how much business yet.

I like Google+.  I think once I fully understand it, it will be better than Facebook.  I’m sure already that Google Authorship has helped my website rankings.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I used LinkedIn to share a link to an article I wrote.  The article was read by one of my contacts who knew me in a completely different context. As a result I have won a significant  amount of recurring work.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

I have two main tips:

  1. Stay active
  2. Give stuff away for free

Contact Information

You can contact Paul on Twitter, Facebook Personal, Facebook Crimson Leaf Page, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Free Tutorials, Crimson Leaf

LinkedIn iPad App – 12 Comments


The LinkedIn iPad App has been completely revamped.

According to LinkedIn, in the third quarter of 2013, mobile accounted for 38% of unique visiting members.  Members who use LinkedIn on mobile and desktop are 2.5 times more active than those who use desktop only.

LinkedIn iPad App

The new app has a number of changes:

1. The navigation bar at the top allows you to get round LinkedIn more easily.  You can access the bar at any time by clicking the blue LinkedIn icon or swiping down from the top bar.

2. In general there is a greater emphasis on images.  More of an image is shown on the iPad app.  Look at the difference between how this update is displayed on the iPad app

LinkedIn ipad status updatecompared to the same update on the desktop version

LinkedIn update on desktop3. It doesn’t seem to be possible to change what type of updates you wish to see.  For example on the desktop version I have chosen not to see connections but these are displayed by default on the app.

4. New connections are displayed with a + button to encourage you to connect.  Pressing the + button sends an automatic invite – it does not allow you to customise it.  Or you can swipe to the right to invite (easy to do by mistake).

5. When you add a comment to a post, you need to press the Send button for it to get posted. If you press enter / hide keyboard or anything else the comment is deleted and not posted.

6. To add a new status update, click the comment icon in the top right of the news feed.  Entering a website or page link does not currently convert to a link and there doesn’t seem a way of adding a link.

7. You cannot update a Company Page from the App

8. You can post to a group but still cannot see any of the Group tabs so can’t analyse the profile of a group, see promotions, etc.

9. It is much easier to see who has viewed your profile on the app.

10. You can review updates from influencers and channels from the LinkedIn Today functionality.

11. The search function is much more like the desktop version – you can search by People, Jobs, Companies or Groups in the same way.  You do not get the advanced search features.

12. Jobs is now on the iPad app so you can view the Jobs listings on the move.

What do you think?  Do you use your iPad or other mobile device to look at LinkedIn?


Interview with Jonathan Russell


Number twenty-nine of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Jonathan Russell.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a charted accountant by training, but I have a number of businesses:

  • ReesRussell LLP & ReesRussell Taxation Services Ltd – an accountancy firm with offices in Witney
  • Russell Phillips Ltd – an accountancy firm with offices in Gerrards Cross
  • Chelsea Corporate Ltd – a corporate finance firm which advises on buying and selling businesses
  • Just Accounts and Tax Ltd – an online accountancy
  • CountrySmiths – an online retail site aimed at country life

Jonathan Russell

How do you use Social Media?

I use Social Media differently for each type of business.

Accountancy Firms
LinkedIn is best for my professional businesses.  I don’t think of it as a social media site but as a connectivity site.  I use it to connect with people, share messages and keep in touch with people.

I find Twitter and Facebook to be less pertinent from a professional viewpoint, though I can see their use in keeping the brand seen.

I also find it useful to communicate in industry forums and to be seen to be knowledgeable about an industry.  If I can comment intelligently on your industry, you are more likely to come to me for accountancy advice.  I encourage people across the firms to take part in forums in industries that they know about.

I blog once a month on the UK200 Group – I should blog more regularly!

The retail site is best suited to Twitter and Facebook.  Although when we (or our products) have been involved / mentioned in forums it has led to work.  For example, a Ferret owners forum happened to mention a cage which we sold (we didn’t mention it) and it has led to orders.

I use Facebook extensively for CountrySmiths.  We find it great as a way of engaging with our audience as well as developing brand awareness.  It is important not to sell though.  I get the least engagement when I share a status update about an offer.  I have found if I give an answer to a problem or talk about things to do with rural life, I get the most engagement.  By talking about a particular problem, I might be able to drive my audience down a path to look at my website.  I often get asked what I recommend for a particular problem.  It works best if I recommend things that we don’t sell as well as things we sell.  I want the page to be known as a place to go for information – an advice platform.

Corporate Finance
The only platform that works is LinkedIn.

In General
I spend about 5 hours a week on social media across the businesses.  Facebook is the most time consuming.   The main problem is making sure I post when my audience is watching.

I haven’t found a use for Twitter. I tend to find people are either engaged with Twitter or not and most of my audience aren’t engaged with Twitter (as far as I know).  It feels like it is more relevant when changes are happening in a business or industry and apart from the budget there are not many changes in accountancy!

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

LinkedIn has produced monetary results.  I have had business as a direct result of being on LinkedIn.  I have also had sales from LinkedIn ads – we have yet to see whether the lifetime value of the sale will outweigh the cost of the ad.

I used LinkedIn to quickly find a particular supplier for CountrySmiths.  It only took 45 minutes – considerably less time than using another route.

I have got accountancy clients because I have been involved in forums.

Facebook has been more about brand awareness.  I certainly haven’t had any success from ads, though I did get more followers when I boosted posts.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Focus – like every other marketing tool, decide what you want out of it and have a strategy.

Contact Information

You can contact Jonathan on LinkedIn, Google+, Rees Russell, ReesRussell Twitter, ReesPhillipsChelsea Corporate, Chelsea Corporate Twitter, Just Accounts and Tax, Countrysmiths, Countrysmiths Twitter, Countrysmiths Facebook,

Interview with Hannah Martin


Number twenty-eight of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Hannah Martin.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a freelance copywriter and co-owner of the Talented Ladies Club – a website aimed at professional women who have children and want to continue to develop their career.  We want to help women who are ambitious but want to balance their ambitions with their children, and enable them to continue to use the skills and passions they have, but on their terms – by working flexibly, going freelance or starting a business.

We want Talented Ladies Club to become a wealth of useful and trusted resources and real flexible career opportunities, and ultimately plan to provide a premium membership which will offer training and other valuable quality resources.

Hannah Martin

How do you use Social Media?

We use Twitter, a Facebook page, Google+ page, a LinkedIn group and Pinterest to drive traffic to the site and raise awareness of the brand.

On our Facebook Page we share information that is interesting or useful. In fact, ‘Interesting’ and ‘useful’ is the heart of everything we do on Social Media. Everything we talk about or link to has to be ‘interesting’ or ‘useful’ (or preferably both) to the women in our target market.

We use LinkedIn and Google+ as a way of sharing links to articles.  Our Pinterest account is managed by Kary, the other half of Talented Ladies Club, and we’ll start making use of Pinterest articles shortly.

Twitter is the tool that personally I like best. I use it for relationship marketing and find it is a place where Karma really works! If you are nice and helpful on Twitter, people will respond in kind. Take the time to look for opportunities to be genuinely helpful as people do reciprocate.

It is also important to join conversations on Twitter if you have something useful or interesting to add. I started by being scared to say anything for fear of rejection or being ignored, but once I let go of that fear, I started to find Twitter really working for me.

I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter to build our business and brand. I spend about 1.5–2 hours a day on Twitter, and schedule regular tweets as well as spontaneous, real time chat. And it’s really working for us. We’ve grown our readership through Twitter at no cost other than time. It’s a great, free marketing tool.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

Yes – two months ago I had 240 Twitter followers and got about two hits to our website every day from it. Now I have over 3,500 followers, and get around 70 hits to our site each day. This is purely through engaging with people and replying to people.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

My five key tips are:

  1. Engage – just reach out and start conversations
  2. Be interesting
  3. Be genuinely nice – it does pay off
  4. Use lists – I have one for people who tweet interesting articles and industry intelligence, and another for people who retweet me so I can retweet back
  5. There are lots of free resources on how to use Twitter – but paying for expert help is worthwhile and can save you time

Contact Information

You can contact Hannah on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook Page, Talented Ladies Club

Using Social Media for Personal Gain


Earlier this year I was delighted to be approached by BookBoon to write a series of free e-books – the first to help individuals use social media called “Using Social Media for Personal Gain”.

As you know, social media is the use of tools on the Internet to find news (world, sports,Social Media for Personal Gain celebrity, etc.), share what you are doing with others and communicate with businesses, brands, media agencies, etc. It is a way of “engaging with a large number of people in a time efficient and cost effective way”.

In my opinion it is so important to understand your personal brand before you start using Social Media so that you don’t misrepresent yourself in this very public forum.

The purpose of this eBook is to encourage you to think about your personal brand, explain the differences between varieties of social media tools and get you started using the main tools for your personal use.  Your personal use may be to find a job, to communicate with others, to talk to brands or to create a personal blog.

This is a complete book and covers how and why to use all the major social media tools. The model that BookBoon uses encourages their range of books to be downloaded for free – so why not download it now and improve your personal use of social media?

I would love to know what you think.

Interview with Sharon Gaskin


Number twenty-seven of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Sharon Gaskin.

Who are you and what do you do?

I run The Trainers Training Company.  We essentially help freelance trainers to create successful businesses.  We can help at any stage of a freelance training business – brand new trainers as well as people who have been running a training business for some time, but are finding it more difficult than they thought.  We run face to face and online training courses on how to create a successful and profitable training business.  We also offer one to one and group mentoring.  Webinars and E-products can be purchased from the website and our regular Trainer Talk sessions are networking groups for trainers.

Sharon GaskinHow do you use Social Media?

I use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and I have a blog.

On LinkedIn I share tips for trainers, useful resources and other people’s blogs.  I have spent time building a network and now have over 3,500 contacts.  I use LinkedIn to deepen relationships with my contacts and create new relationships.  I created and manage the Trainer Talk group on LinkedIn and contribute to 3 – 4 other groups.  I belong to a small number of groups so that I can contribute to the discussions.

On Twitter, I share tips and resources and use it to build relationships with people.  I like to chat to people and get to know them better, I also post links to my blogs.

I have found Facebook much easier to use recently. I get much more engagement on Facebook than I used to.  I have a Facebook page and post 3 times a day, sharing tips and resources and links to my blog.  I also post business information on my personal profile as well as sharing more personal information.  I get loads on interaction on my personal profile.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

A lot of my clients come from Social Media.  Recently a lady booked on to one of my workshops the day before the workshop.  I asked her how she found me and she said that she had been ‘stalking’ me for 2 years – following me on all my social media accounts and reading my blogs.  She had liked what I was saying but hadn’t been able to book on a workshop earlier.

Social Media has been about getting my name out there – you never know who is looking at what you are saying and when they might act upon it.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

I have the following tips:

  1. Use social media consistently.  Little and often is best.
  2. Keep going.  It is easy to get disheartened if somebody doesn’t immediately respond but results will come over time.

Contact Information

You can contact Sharon on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook Page, Trainers Training Company

Customer Service Lessons


It was my 20th wedding anniversary last weekend so my husband and I celebrated with a meal in a ‘quality’ restaurant.  We have a lovely restaurant where we live in Faringdon but unfortunately it was busy so we decided to go into Oxford for a change and went to a popular restaurant (mains were about £23 to give you an idea of ‘quality’).

RestaurantIt was a lovely evening out, and I have no complaints – the food was very good.  It was interesting from a customer service viewpoint and I was treated to some business and social media lessons which I thought I would share with you.

1. When we arrived, we were greeted and told that somebody would take our coats – in fact I was shown the coat hanger to hang my own coat up on the way to my table! Others who arrived (clearly regular customers) had their coats hung up for them.

Business Lesson:
Make every customer feel they are equally welcomed to your business.  There are other ways you can make your regular customers feel special.

2. At the beginning of our meal, we felt very rushed.  We ordered pre-dinner drinks and sat down to look at the menu.  Very quickly the waitress arrived to take our order and we ordered a bottle of wine to go with the meal.  I was surprised to see the wine arrive even though we had just started our pre-dinner drinks – my husband had to taste the wine between gulps of beer! Yes, we could have asked for more time, but it wasn’t a big deal – just a little annoyance.

Business Lesson:
If possible, let your customers work with you at their pace not yours.

3. On a similar note, the restaurant wasn’t busy at the beginning of the evening but became busy by the end.  At the beginning, I couldn’t put an empty glass down without it being whipped away – in fact I nearly lost the last gulp of my G & T!  By the end of the evening it was all more relaxed – even though we actually wanted the bill so we could leave!

Social Media Lesson:
Listen (or watch) your customers so you can offer them what they need it, when they need it.

On a separate note, one of the principles I bang on about when talking about using social media is the need to understand your brand and how you look to others.  The restaurant we went to looked lovely with subtle fairy lights and candles.  The food was presented in art form.  However, the waitresses (probably poor students) were less professionally dressed – they were in black tops and skirts but one girl had a hole in her tights and in both cases their shoes / boots needed a clean and to be smarted up.  Not a comment on the waitresses – they probably couldn’t afford it – more of a comment on the restaurant – the quality part of their brand didn’t flow through the entire experience.

Business and Social Media Lesson:
Make sure every time your customers see or hear from you, your brand and values are represented.

It was a lovely evening out, but I didn’t feel that the restaurant wanted me to become a regular customer – which is how I feel every time I go to our local Faringdon restaurant.

I would love to know your thoughts – how do you make your customers feel wanted?


Interview with Stuart Roper


Number twenty-six of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Stuart Roper.

Who are you and what do you do?

I have multiple hats:

  • I am a graphic designer.  I work with businesses and charities to create a complete brand identity including logo design and corporate identity.  I have worked on diverse projects from the OxTrails  project, designed to increase the number of visitors coming to the Vale of White Horse, to my recent work with a training company.
  • I am an illustrator.  I have a specific style and have illustrated tourism maps, sign boards, books – both children and adult and greeting cards
  • I paint and have exhibited in galleries as well as painting commissions
  • I write and perform music.  I have written and performed the theme tune for a set of videos from a training company, I perform live and I help others to perform.

Stuart RoperHow do you use Social Media?

I have found Social Media for the illustrator, painting and music sides of my business invaluable.  Social Media is a perfect medium to share visual and audio works.

I share my illustrations and paintings on my Facebook page.  Although the number of likes of the actual page is only about 100, I often get a reach of over 300 people seeing my posts.  It is a visual medium and is immediate – it is easier to share my illustrations on my Facebook page than on my website.

I use Pinterest to create boards of places I’ve been.  For example I was recently in Cornwall and did quite a bit of painting and illustrating.  I created a Cornwall board and shared a number of the paintings.  It is a good way of judging the interest of particular pieces before approaching galleries.

LinkedIn is more business orientated I find, though I have included examples of my work on my profile.  I share and connect with clients I have worked with in the past when I did more graphic design work.  To me, LinkedIn feels clunky so I do use it less than Facebook and Pinterest.

I also have a Facebook Page for my music.  People use it to make bookings.

What about Copyright?

I used to be very concerned about copyright and yes it is an issue.  I am becoming more laid back though.  When I scan in my illustrations and paintings I always upload a low resolution copy which means that if somebody does decide to print it out the quality won’t be very good.  I also ensure that my website is always the source on images I upload to Pinterest.  In reality, I’m getting my images in front of people in a way that I couldn’t do before social media, so it is worth the risk.  If somebody likes the image, they can either keep a low resolution print or purchase a high resolution print or the original from me.  Even if somebody just keeps the low resolution copy, I still get satisfaction from the fact that somebody likes what I do.

I guess the difference from photography is that it is unlikely that somebody will get commercial gain from a low resolution copy of one of my illustrations.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I have definitely found business from using social media.  I use it to develop relationships and allow people to know who I am.  People buy people which is particularly true in my business.  Some recent success stories.

  1. I wrote and illustrated a book about my dog visiting Wantage because I wanted to show tourist organisations that writing a children’s book about an area was a good way of getting families to visit the area.  I created an Issu book and shared on all my social media.  I was contacted by somebody in Australia who liked the book and wanted to share it with her contacts.  I have also had lots of people on Twitter and Facebook sharing and commenting on the book and wanting a copy.  I will probably print the book as a result.  Eventually I hope to get more book illustration work – but it is a slow burn and is all part of building my reputation.
  2. Due to sharing my illustrations and comments on Facebook, I have been contacted by a friend of a friend who commissioned a new large piece of work from me.
  3. An old contact on LinkedIn has recently contacted me about some graphic design work.
  4. A lady from London searched Google for “Oxfordshire artist” and found my website and social media profiles.  This led to yet another commission.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

  • If in doubt about posting an image or an opinion, don’t!
  • Engage with people – groups or individuals.
  • Say something pertinent, interesting or funny so people will want to talk to you.
  • Keep on top of the technology so you can use it for your benefit.

Contact Information

You can contact Stuart on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook – Widcombe House Gallery, Facebook – Milagro Design, Widcombe House Gallery, Issu, Milagro Design, Google+, Pinterest 

Creating a Facebook Shop – Part 1


I have been working with The Nasio Trust over the last few months.  They are a fantasticThe Nasio Trust charity based in Abingdon and Kenya.  They run day-care centres in western Kenya providing orphaned children with a daily meal, education, medical care and support. They also offer young people in the UK the opportunity to turn their lives around through positive activities and fundraising, culminating in volunteering on projects in Kenya.

I have been helping The Nasio Trust use Social Media, in particular Twitter to deliver their message and raise their profile.  This week, we looked at setting up a Facebook shop to offer alternative gifts.  By spending £7 on a blanket rather than a let’s be honest, tacky gift that is not used past day 1, you can help a family in Kenya keep warm.

Why a Facebook shop?

The cost of adding e-commerce to the website wasn’t massive but for a charity was difficult to justify.  We selected an app which it is free to add 10 products to the shop. This is sufficient for the charity to get started and different products can be offered at different times.  To offer up to 100 products is $12.50 / month (but they offer discounts for non profits). If the initial 10 products sell well then is it easy to justify the additional cost.

Nasio Trust Facebook store

How do you add a Facebook shop?

I wanted a solution that was quick to get started and easy to use – and low cost, so I selected Ecwid.  The major steps were as follows.  (This is not a step by step handout but a general idea):

1. Access the Ecwid app

2. Add the app to Facebook.  You will need to do this as a personal account and then add it to the page

3. Register with Ecwid and put the store id onto the app.

4. On the Ecwid control panel, delete the categories and products that have been included as part of the demo version.

5. Under system settings, set your currency, time zone, tax, etc.

6. Under Catalog, add new products, including price, description and an image. For The Nasio Trust, we have just used products, but you can use categories as well.

7. Link your PayPal account by selecting System Settings > Payment.

8. On your Facebook Page, display the app in the top 4 apps by selecting the down arrow, clicking the pencil in the top right hand corner of the Shop app and swapping it with one of the apps currently in the top row.

You are good to go.  The NasioTrust need to add more products and link their paypal account so in Part 2, I will let you know how they have got on and the analytics available.

I would love to know what you think – are you going to set up a shop?  I’ve added one (with a few products) to my Facebook Page.

Interview with Amanda Barnett


Number twenty-five of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Amanda Barnett.

Who are you and what do you do?

I offer straightforward financial advice to (mainly) individuals focusing on their pensions and investments.  I have now gained the reputation as a ‘go to’ person for financial advice.  I also run the 4Networking Group in Cirencester.  As it happens, I am one of the longest serving group leaders.

Amanda BarnettHow do you use Social Media?

I do have a profile on LinkedIn but need to use it more.  Twitter is my main social media tool.  I use it for relationship marketing and to enhance my face to face networking activities.  My business is all about personal relationships.  When I see people at a networking event, I know what they have been doing because I actively follow and communicate with them on Twitter. We can carry on our face to face conversations in the online environment.

I use Twitter daily and have grouped people I want to follow into different lists to make it easier to listen and respond to what they are saying.

I generally don’t give business opinions and never give advice on Twitter as I need to be careful of compliance, but I talk to and promote individuals, remembering it is a public arena.

I also find the 4N forum is a good way of enhancing my profile.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I have ‘met’ people on Twitter who I have invited to my 4Networking group to meet them face to face.  I have found my use of Twitter has enhanced my brand and reputation and kept me in ‘front of mind’ when people do need an IFA or have referrals.

At a personal level, I have had better customer service when I have used Twitter to make a complaint about a brand than email or phone.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

I have the following tips:

  1. Don’t swear
  2. Avoid negativity
  3. Take an interest in others and respond.

Contact Information

You can contact Amanda on LinkedIn, Twitter.

Lessons learnt from 5 years in business


I started Concise Training 5 years ago last month.  Now that I have taken on my first employee, it feels like a good time to reflect on the lessons learnt from 5 years in business.

1. Networking

The first day I started to work for myself, I went to a networking breakfast meeting in fbbc-logoFaringdon. What a revelation, I didn’t even know these things existed and suddenly I found loads of networking groups in the area! At the Faringdon meeting I met Amanda Barnett who has become a client, a supplier and a friend. Amanda introduced me to the 4Networking group.  I joined for 2 years and it brought me some fantastic clients, contacts and friends. On that first day of networking, I also met Graham Hill who took me to the NRG lunch networking group the next day. I’ll never forget the kindness of these two people who showed me the ropes when I first started.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Networking does work – but get the balance between networking and paid work.
  • Become a regular member of a group.
  • Review your networking strategy every 6 – 12 months to make sure the groups are still working for you.

2. Be Flexible

When I started Concise Training, I was offering Microsoft Office training using virtual classrooms and mediatreescreen share. I still do train in this way – but offer face to face training as well. Soon after I started attending breakfast meetings, my son broke his arm and needed a lift to school so I couldn’t go to the networking! Instead, I started using social media to promote my business and identified an opportunity to teach others how to use this method of marketing. Loads of research and experimenting later, I created a series of workshops and started to work with businesses. Thanks to Diane Morgan and Nigel Morgan for asking me to deliver workshops on their behalf at the beginning.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Never say “No” unless you really can’t deliver – you never know what it might lead to.
  • Don’t be scared to try new things- what is the worst that can happen?
  • Keep an eye on new trends in your sector and identify changes you need to make.

3. Be Unique

In 2010, I was talking to a colleague of mine, Di Dawson, about the direction of social media and how annoying it was that people were jumping on the ‘social media bandwagon’.  I know of people who were managing social media for businesses for vast sums of money but didn’t really understand what to do. I have heard of businesses being charged £1000s each month but only getting 1 or 2 updates a week on their Facebook or Twitter pages. (It still goes on).

Di owned a virtual City and Guilds centre and we put together the units and a task book for a bespoke ITQ qualification to teach best practice and how to use the full range of Social Media tools properly. City & Guilds accredited the qualification and we have had 10 graduates, and 23 people currently doing the course. This led to all sorts of other qualifications and work including a Social Digital apprenticeship and our E-Learning courses which have been licensed by Pitman Training Group.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Think of ways you can be different from the competition
  • Make sure you tell people about what makes you unique (something I need to improve!)
  • Go with the flow – you never know where it might lead

4. Consider Book Writing

In 2011, I was approached by Paul Ovington, Sarah Williams and Albert Wright to becomeSocial Media Front Cover an associate for a new company they were starting – Right Angle Consultants.  In the theme of ‘never say no’ I was delighted to join them. Although for various reasons, this didn’t lead directly to work, I was asked to write a chapter of their book ‘Breaking the Barriers to Business Growth’. I wrote about Social Media strategy.

That chapter led to a workshop, an E-learning course and ultimately ‘Social Media Made Simple’, published in 2012. The book has added credibility to my brand and I have been contacted by people all over the UK who have bought the book and wanted further training. I have also recently written ‘Social Media for Personal Gain’ which will be published by BookBoon shortly and I will be writing Word 2013 for BookBoon later this year. Thanks to Chantal Cornelius for help with the first book and Alison Thompson for help with the second.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Do consider writing a book. When I tell somebody that I have written a book, it immediately gives me more credibility.
  • The book will be a marketing tool. Any money you make is a bonus!
  • Get help if you need it.

5. Take care of the Cashflow

When I started my business, I was fortunate to not need to earn much money in the short term – but I didn’t want to lose money either. I took the decision very early on not to spend more than I could earn. There were a couple of things that I did invest in at the beginning – a website from Sarah Hills, my business cards and my networking membership. Apart from these, I didn’t spend anything unless I had the money to pay for it. Although this meant that my growth was slow and steady, I still think that this was the right decision for me.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Understand how much you can invest in the business and be strict
  • Make sure that money you do spend will get the return on investment you require

6. Trusted Advisors

I have been grateful to have been able to work with people who have understood me and my business and have suggested ways in which I could develop personally as well as within the business. Paul Ovington worked with me in the early days and more recently Kath Bonner-Dunham has worked with me under the Growth Accelerator scheme. Kath in particular, has taught me to value the knowledge and experience that I now have and charge appropriately. A difficult lesson and one that I am still learning!

Lessons Learnt:

  • Seek out advice from people you can trust.
  • Consider reciprocal arrangements if necessary.
  • Identify any government funding you may qualify for.
  • Put a value on your knowledge, experience and the research you do when you are not in front of the client.

I’m sure there are many more lessons that I could add but that is enough for now.  I would love to know if any of my ‘lessons learnt’ resonate with you.  Please add your comments below.

Interview with Philip Arnold


Number twenty-four of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Philip Arnold.

Who are you and what do you do?

I run my own business – Health Insurance Services (SW) Ltd which is in its 6th year as a franchise and I am an appointed representative for WPA (Western Provident Association).  We provide medical insurance to individuals/families, self-employed persons/professionals and businesses.

Philip ArnoldHow do you use Social Media?

I have a Facebook personal account and a Twitter account, both of which I use occasionally.  I mainly used LinkedIn and find it a fantastic way to connect with people and generate business leads.  I use LinkedIn in three main ways:

  1. To research the right person to talk to in a company.  I direct people to look at my profile and in particular my testimonials.  I have also optimised my profile so people can find me.  This year, the number of people who have looked at my profile has dramatically increased.
  2. I post information (mainly links) that I think would be of interest to my contacts.  Sometimes I add an opinion on the link – but I am always careful to ensure that comments cannot be construed as misleading. I would prefer to give personal advice to clients only when I am aware of their circumstances. I also promote my services and news about WPA’s products.
  3. People find me through LinkedIn and ask me for advice about medical insurance.  Telling people what they should be looking for and questions to ask is a good way of building my credibility without trying to sell.

I use LinkedIn groups to a limited extent, but I do find it difficult to find groups and discussions within groups that are relevant and appropriate for me to comment in.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I have generated a good deal of business through LinkedIn, but in particular:

Two years ago, I made a connection through LinkedIn with an HR manager in a firm of solicitors.  The firm weren’t able to take out medical insurance as they were cutting down on expenditure, but I continued to keep in contact with the HR manager.  About 2 months ago, the HR manager contacted me.  She had moved on to a major employer and had shared my LinkedIn profile with a number of people in her new firm.  Communication is on-going but it would not have got this far without LinkedIn.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

  1. When people look at your profile (which you can see from the home page), send them a connection request (when necessary), thank them for looking at your profile and ask if they need any more information.
  2. When you send an invitation to connect, tell the person why you want to connect, don’t just send a standard invite.

Contact Information

You can contact Philip on LinkedIn, Twitter, WPA Website


Changes to Google Keyword tracking


During the past few weeks, you may have seen some news about the changes to the way you can track which keywords people are using to find your website.

Google has made two significant changes recently.

1. They removed access to the free Google keyword tool. This was a handy tool which could you to help work out which keywords were used in search and how many websites were competing to use the keyword. It has been replaced by the Keyword planner tool accessed by signing up for an Adwords account. The general feeling is that the planner tool is not as good as the original tool, but this may change over time.

As an alternative you may want to consider the Wordtracker Free Keyword Tool which is “completely independent of Google”.

2. Google now encrypts all searches so you can no longer tell which keywords wereGoogle organic searches used when somebody arrives at your site from organic search (typing the words into Google search).   Keywords originating from Adwords campaigns will still be available.  Some data is still available from Google webmaster, but you can’t tell which keywords resulted in conversions. (this has a bug as at 2/10/13 see SearchEngineLand)

What does this mean for your business?

  • In my opinion, it is still worth thinking about the keywords that people might use to find your products and services as you will want to use the keywords in the meta tags of your web pages, social media and other content.  You may want to ask your customers which keywords they would use to find your products / services.
  • Using Google Analytics, you can identify whether traffic is coming from organic search or referrals so it is still important to include keywords in all aspects of your website.
  • If you use Google pay per click marketing, you can connect your Adwords account to your analytics account and use that information for keyword research.
  • The best way to get traffic to your site is to produce good quality, relevant content on Social Media platforms, blogs, video, E-books, SlideShare, etc, which is shared by others and enhances your credibility and reputation.  Let us know if you would like help with this.
  • This article by SearchEngineLand has some other ways to see how people are finding and using your website.

What changes will you make to your marketing plan with the changes in keywords? Please let us know in the comments below.

Interview with Lesley-Anne Hornbogen


Number twenty-three of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Lesley-Anne Hornbogen.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am the owner of On the Go VA Services. I provide VA services to professional individuals.  A VA is a Virtual Assistant, a PA providing secretarial services online. My niche areas are digital transcription and Social Media advice. For Social Media clients I help them get started and set up their profiles but I don’t manage their accounts.  I have a variety of clients utilising my secretarial services, a Structural Engineer, Recruitment Consultant, Healthcare Consultant and Self-development coach.  On top of these core clients I carry out one off projects for clients who want their database updated; transcription of books they have written as well as transcription of webinars which can then be produced as hard copies for download purposes.

Lesley-Anne Hornbogen

How do you use Social Media?

I use Social Media to provide a consistent online presence.  I try to give a consistent feed of information daily promoting my business, sharing content and interacting with people online.

I use LinkedIn as a professional network, a Facebook profile for more personal updates, a Facebook page for business and Twitter as a stream for information snippets. Pinterest is my bible to unwind and view DIY Crafts that I promise myself I will do one day and I use Google+ to share articles, although I have to say it’s not my favourite. I have recently started to blog using the Empower Network, a viral blogging system.

I like to have a presence on all of the tools as my potential clients may only be on a selection of them.  I do feel that social media is a fantastic tool for retail – anybody selling products.  It can be harder for professional services.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I can share two success stories:

On a personal level, I saw a link on Facebook about the Empower Network system.  I had a look, liked what I saw and signed up.

On a professional level, I have received work through Twitter.  I saw a post about somebody looking for a VA for 5 – 10 hours of work a month and I have been doing the job for over a year now.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Think about online networking in the same way you do face to face networking and don’t just promote your services. Update in the following order:

  1. Entertain by providing humorous photos, videos and links
  2. Listen to what other people are saying; read their articles/blogs
  3. Promote and share

Unfortunately too many people promote their businesses first, might possibly share others content and very rarely listen or read.

The other main tip (and in my mind the most important) is don’t say anything online that you are not prepared to say face to face.

Contact Information

You can contact Lesley-Anne, on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook Personal, Facebook Page, On the Go Website, Pinterest, Empower Network, Create Your Life



10 top tips to use Facebook Marketing for Business


I don’t often do ’10 top tips’, but it has been recently pointed out to me that they are very popular, so here is my take on top tips to use Facebook marketing for business.  I could easily do more than 10 – but here are 10 for a starter.

1. Is it the right tool?

I really don’t believe that every business should have a Facebook page.  They can take Facebook Aimstime to manage with little success if you are not careful. However, if you are a business that can generate plenty of images, have a consumer based audience or have an audience who like to belong to a community, then Facebook is the right tool for you. Just make sure you have a strategy for using it and know why you want to use it.

2. Create a Page

It is very important to create a Facebook Page for your business and not just use your personal profile.  If Facebook feels you are using your personal profile for business updates, then it may shut the account down.  You can choose to make your Facebook profile very secure so that you can only be found via your page.

3. Select the right category

When you first create a Facebook page, you can choose to select whether it is a local Type of Pagebusiness, brand, company, etc. Only choose ‘local business’ if you want people to appear at your door.  If you are running your business from home, choose ‘brand’.  Each category has different information attached which might not be appropriate. For example, ‘local business’ requires you to add opening hours, parking information, directions etc. Probably not applicable if you are working at home!

4. Brand the page

Make sure that the cover photo, profile picture and ‘about us’ information shows your branding and makes your products and services clear to the casual browser. The ‘about us’ information should contain your keywords to help your Facebook Page to get found.

5. Multiple administrators

It is always a good idea to have multiple administrators on the page.  You can ask anybody who has liked the page to be an administrator just in case your account gets locked out for some reason. If a visitor looks at the page, there is no way of identifying the administrators.

6. Gather likes

Once you have created and branded your page, you need to start to gather people who ‘like’ the page. This should be a continual process and done over time. I wouldn’t recommend that you purchase likes to increase your numbers.  You want to get people who like your page because they like you or like what you are saying.  Ideally you want people who will then engage with your page.  To advertise your page initially, access your page as yourself and invite your Facebook friends (if you have any) to like the page. You should also promote it on your email signature and across any other social networks.

Facebook Likes

7. Post Images

Images (or videos) are the updates which generally get the most engagement (likes, comments, shares). Cute or funny photos tend to get the most engagement! At the very least, post pictures of your products or the results of your services (eg. a beauty salon posts pictures of painted nails). The more engagement you get on your page, the more Facebook will show your post to other people on Facebook.

8. Post Questions

The other type of update that gets engagement is if you ask a question. If you can ask a question with an image then even better. For example, post an image of a shoe in two different colours and ask which colour people prefer.

9. Post Regularly

Facebook has an algorithm called EdgeRank which determines who sees your posts. Generally it is 12% – 16% of the people who have liked your page. The algorithm decides who sees your post based on the amount of engagement the person has had with your page, the type of post and how recent the post is. Consider posting in 3 hour intervals. Facebook works if you keep at it. You can build momentum over time which will drop off if you don’t post for a few days.

10. Measure

Facebook Insights gives you fantastic information about the growth of engagement of your page and which posts have been most popular. Make sure you look at the analytics regularly and feed the results into future posts.

Facebook Insights

If you would like help on these tips and more, have a look at our Facebook Workshop on 4th October in Faringdon, Oxfordshire or if you can’t make the date, look at our Facebook E-Learning course which covers even more information than the workshop.

Let me know what you think – what is your top Facebook tip?

Interview with Nikki Guthrie


Number twenty-two of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Nikki Guthrie.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am the owner of Utopia Beauty Salon & Beautique in Abingdon – an upmarket, contemporary beauty salon providing ultimate luxury treatments in the ultimate luxury setting.  We also have a shop below the salon in which clients can buy top quality beauty products and essentials that complement our treatments or individuals can receive advice on the best products to use at home.

Nikki Guthrie

How do you use Social Media?

I use Facebook to post a status update at least every other day – we post updates about new products, offers, photos of treatments we have carried out (e.g. painted nails) and client testimonials.  Our Twitter account is also linked to Facebook so when we post an update to Facebook we also get a presence on Twitter.

We have recently opened a Pinterest account to share photos from the salon and a LinkedIn company profile to share similar updates.  I probably spend about 1 hour a day on social media.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

We often ask our clients how they found out about the salon, and a large number of them say it was through Facebook and / or Twitter.  These tools in particular have become an essential part of our marketing mix.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

My three top tips:

  1. Update regularly to remind people that you are there
  2. Use photos whenever possible to add interest to your posts – the more visual the post, the more interactions you are likely to receive
  3. Try to get engagement by asking a question or opinion – when somebody engages with your post, it will update on the newsfeed to all their friends, giving you a wider audience to advertise to!

Contact Information

You can contact Nikki at her beauty salon in Abingdon, on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Utopia Beauty Salon Website, Pinterest


Interview with Kath Bonner-Dunham


After a short break, number twenty-one of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Kath Bonner-Dunham from 4P Business Development.  Kath happens to be my superb business coach – but this interview is how she uses Social Media in her business.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am the Director of 4P Business Development.  I create the ideal conditions for the business’s long-term success and support business owners and managers by providing:

  • Business coaching, mentoring, training and support for leaders, managers, owners and teams
  • Contracted business management support
  • Asking the difficult questions that you will not even ask yourself

Kath Bonner-Dunham How do you use Social Media? I use Social Media to network with past, present and existing contacts.  I develop relationships, promote my own business and also my client’s businesses. Facebook I have a Facebook Page as well as a personal profile.  I use the Page to share regular information giving tips to help business owners and managers to grow themselves and their business.  I use my Profile to network with business and social contacts. Twitter I use Twitter to share tips and tricks and useful information.  I also retweet interesting information from people I am following. LinkedIn To me, LinkedIn is all about making new contacts and keeping in touch with existing contacts.  I also find it a useful way of reaching out to new sectors.  I use it to promote my testimonials from customers and link to the testimonials from my website.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

  1. I have recently been contacted on LinkedIn by somebody who I haven’t seen for over 10 years.  She would like to talk to me about how we can work together.
  2. I presented a short piece at a networking session.  A member of the audience researched me on LinkedIn and bought my services directly as a result of my presence and profile.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

  1. Have consistent branding and continuity across your internet presence including Social Media, website, etc.
  2. Don’t mix business with pleasure
  3. Always add value / be interesting (don’t share your coffee breaks).

Contact Information

You can contact Kath on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, 4P Business Development

Changes to LinkedIn Groups – September 2013


LinkedIn have just implemented a new change to LinkedIn Groups.  Unfortunately by implementing the change to groups, they also temporarily broke Profiles! Profiles were deleted for a few minutes and caused a considerable amount of concern and panic!  The issues with changing live systems without a proper test environment perhaps?!

Anyway, what are the changes to LinkedIn groups?

To get the new version of groups at the moment you need to have an email invite from LinkedIn – I’m sure this will change over time.

At first glance there doesn’t seem to be any change, but comparing the new version to the old, the new is much cleaner.  The 6 tabs at the top have been reduced to 4, with additional buttons on the top right of the group page.

The buttons on the top right make it easier to LeaveLinked In Buttons a Group (click Member rather than hunting around to find the leave button) and clicking the i shows information about the group (owner, members, links to rules, profile and statistics) which used to be available under the More tab.

LinkedIn group information

Comments are displayed in a simpler way so less clicking is required to view them.

As a group owner, you can add an image to the top of a group – known as a “Hero image” to give information about what the group is about, as well as displaying your branding. When you upload the image you wish to use, you need to tick a box confirming that the image you have uploaded does not contravene copyright laws.  This ensures that LinkedIn is covered in case of copyright infringement and I wonder if this idea will be implemented elsewhere on Social Media sites.

LinkedIn Group Hero image

So no big changes, but an improvement overall I think.  What are your views on the changes?

Interview with Helen Irving


Number twenty of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Helen Irving from thebestof Abingdon.

Who are you and what do you do?

I run thebestof Abingdon.

I market and promote the best businesses in the Abingdon area in order to make more people aware of them and then hopefully to use them! “Best” is determined by customers – all member businesses have been recommended to me by their customers as being one of the top in their category. I then highlight what is special about each business and shout about them and what they do – their offers, events, articles etc. to everyone else – amplified word of mouth really.

At the end of the day, every business needs to communicate with people so we have B2C and B2B members.

Helen Irviing


How do you use Social Media?

I use Social Media as part of the marketing mix for thebestof Abingdon. I also use email newsletters, my website, door drops and networking, but I find Social Media is a means of contacting people in a different way.

I use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ – all for slightly different reasons.

I use Twitter daily to engage with the local Twitter community.  I have over 3,000 local followers and interact with them by retweeting tweets from thebestof Abingdon members, tweeting things of interest in the Abingdon area or tweeting about relevant offers, articles or events.  I am personally more comfortable using Twitter than some of the other tools and like the scheduling aspect of the tool as well as its instant nature.

Facebook is used mainly if I have a quality picture that I can share or if I have a question I want to ask or a business I want to check out.  I also post updates about what is going on in Abingdon or with a business in the local area.  I find Facebook more long-winded to use and less easy to schedule.

I have a personal profile on LinkedIn and I have created a group called ‘Abingdon Means Business’ which I use for general discussions about things important to Abingdon and to provide a hub where locally-focused businesses can interact and help each other out.

I do have a personal Google+ profile which I use for Google Authorship when I write blogs – but my audience isn’t currently using Google+ to any great extent.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I have found Twitter to be a great way of filling up events and courses on behalf of members.  A few days before one, I will implement a Twitter campaign which generally populates it at short notice.

The immediacy of Twitter gives success in the take-up of real time offers- Twitter seems to force people to react.

My greatest success on Facebook has been a picture I posted featuring Abingdon precinct in the rain with a comment ‘but it has huge potential’.  It generated 100s of comments!

The LinkedIn ‘Abingdon Means Business’ group currently has 160 local businesses that have joined.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

  1. Treat people online as if you were speaking to them face to face
  2. Be consistent – I get emails to check I am OK if I haven’t tweeted for a few days!
  3. Stay in control of the amount of time you spend on Social  Media
  4. Keep a good variety of types of posts

Contact Information

You can contact Helen on LinkedIn, thebestof Abingdon Website – Twitter, Facebook, Google+

New Analytics for LinkedIn Company Pages


Last week, I talked about the benefit of having a LinkedIn Company PageLinkedIn company page to build the brand awareness and marketing awareness of your business.

LinkedIn have now introduced analytics for LinkedIn company pages so that a business can see what engagement a particular post has received.  For each post, you can see the number of impressions (how many times it was seen), the number of clicks and amount of engagement (shares, likes, comments).

This is great information as it allows you to see which type of posts are getting LinkedIn Company Analyticsengagement and will split the results between paid or sponsored posts and organic posts.  It will be easy to see whether including an image does get twice the engagement as LinkedIn claims or whether asking a question works better for your audience.

This information is similar to the analytics you can get on a Facebook page and will make the reason to update a company pages much easier to measure in terms of results.

What do you think?  Have you started to update your company page yet?  Do follow the Concise Training company page to be the first to know about the latest developments.

Interview with Ellen Watts


Number nineteen of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Ellen Watts from ElleRich Training Limited and Ellen Unlimited.

Who are you and what do you do?

I run 2 businesses:

ElleRich Training Limited – I have been running this for 17 years offering customer service, sales, presentation and management skills.

Ellen Unlimited – I recently wrote ‘Cosmic Ordering Made Easier – How to have more of what you want – more often’ about working with the laws of the Universe to get more of what you want.  This has led to a number of speaking engagements so I have set this up as a separate brand.

I also help with a charity – the Rhodesian Ridgeback Welfare Trust.

Ellen Watts


How do you use Social Media?

I have set up a Facebook Page for the Rhodesian Ridgeback Welfare Trust which has proved to be very successful.

I do have a Facebook Page for Ellerich Training, but it has not been so successful as it hasn’t appealed to the right audience. However the Facebook Page for my book has had a good deal of activity.  I use it to share motivational quotes and to announce where I am next speaking.

I have had a profile on LinkedIn for a number of years but I’m now using it to promote events and to drive traffic to my website and my Facebook pages.  I find it is a good way of consolidating physical networking and the discussions I get involved with in groups are a good way of making me more visible.

I find my Twitter accounts of ellerichltd and ellenunlimited to be a great way of meeting and chatting with people I would not have met any other way.  I seem to have connected with more people abroad than in this country – and there is no way I would have met them without Twitter.

I haven’t yet used Google+ or Pinterest.  The next plan is to start a blog and to improve my YouTube channel.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

From Twitter, I have had book sales, traffic to my website and found corporate speaking engagements.  Recently I was offered a speaking engagement in the UK from somebody I was talking to on Twitter which could lead to other speaking engagements in Europe.

During my first week on Twitter, I had somebody follow me from Saudi Arabia who then asked me to create a guest blog for them.  An hour after it had gone live, it had been picked up by a Saudi Training magazine.

I think that the various Social Media channels have brought me as much business as traditional marketing!

Can you give our readers a top tip?

I have four tips:

  • Pick tools that are appropriate for your audience, business and market and use these consistently.
  • Be careful not to get distracted when updating your Facebook page – stay focused!
  • Join LinkedIn groups that your target customers have joined and add value to their discussions.
  • Invest in training so that you are using the tools well.

Contact Information

You can contact Ellen on LinkedIn,

ElleRich Training Ltd Twitter, Website, Facebook;

Ellen Unlimited Twitter, Website, Facebook;

Rhodesian Ridgeback Welfare Trust Website, Facebook

Are you using LinkedIn Company Profiles?


Do you have a company profile on LinkedIn?  Even if you are a sole trader, it is a good idea to create a company profile.

Creating a company profile requires you to have an email address at the same domain name as your website.  You can add your logo, description of the company, specialities (keywords) and a list of the products or services you offer.

Once you have created your company profile, you can then link your individual profile to your company profile so your company logo is displayed on your individual profile along with a brief description of your company when visitors hover over the company name or logo.

You should then encourage people to follow the company profile.  The company profile LinkedIn Company Pagecan and should publish status updates about what is going on in the company and share useful and interesting information that is relevant to the industry.  The people who are following the company will get these updates in their news feed.

I was looking at a company today who has over 7,000 followers but has never published an update – what a marketing opportunity missed!

In the latest LinkedIn change, if Company A posts an update and Tom, who is following Company A, comments on the update, Company A can now comment on Tom’s comment so creating a conversation between Company A and Tom.

Do you have a company profile or do you follow companies?

Interview with Chantal Cornelius


Number eighteen of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Chantal Cornelius from Appletree.

Who are you and what do you do?

I run Appletree, a marketing business set up nearly 13 years ago.  We offer a full service of a wide range of marketing activity, but normally starting with creating a marketing plan to help clients achieve their business goals.  Under our Managed Marketing service we implement the marketing plan by doing the work for our clients.  With our Marketing Mentor service, we help our client to implement their own marketing by supporting them and providing ongoing advice.

Chantal Cornelius


How do you use Social Media?

We predominantly use Social Media to raise the profile of Appletree and to generate brand awareness.  We use a wide variety of tools in an integrated way.  Each month we have a marketing meeting in the office to discuss the main topics that are going to be covered during the next month, which we use to link our updates and integrate our Social Media.  We use a variety of Social Media tools:


Each member of the business has a LinkedIn profile and we also have an Appletree company profile.  We update the company profile and share using our individual profiles as well as updating our individual profiles directly.   Our updates will include links to our blog posts and newsletters, updates about what we are doing e.g. the new book that Chantal is writing, clients we are working with and changes in the business. We also use LinkedIn for recruitment – we’re currently looking for a new Account Manager.

I have also joined a number of LinkedIn groups for coaches as we have a number of clients who are coaches.  In the groups I answer questions relating to how to promote their business.  This has brought people to workshops and generated book sales.


We aim for 12 tweets a day.  At least ½ the tweets will be tips and advice – others will be similar to the LinkedIn updates.  We also work on getting conversations going.  Many of our tweets are retweeted and when we say ‘thank you’, we ask a question to encourage engagement.  We also retweet updates written by clients to help build relationships.


Although this isn’t an obvious channel for a B2B business, we have had success through friends of the people who like our Facebook page.  We share similar updates to those on LinkedIn.


We blog three times a week.  This is split between different people within the business.  On a Monday, we write about the theory on a topic and on the Friday we write about using the topic in a practical manner.  On a Wednesday it might be a more topical piece.


Our email newsletter, Scribbles, is sent out on the 3rd Wednesday of the month and is also distributed on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


We have just started to produce videos relating to our blogs and newsletters – although we’ve been doing this for years for our clients.  The videos are available on YouTube and across all the other marketing channels, including our website.


This is the next one we’re looking at!  We’re investigating the best way to use Google+ for both our business and for our clients.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I know our Social Media is successful when I walk into a networking meeting and a complete stranger knows who I am because of my Social Media presence.  Much of our work comes from face to face networking and it is easier to build a relationship with a potential client when they already know who I am based on my Social Media tips and blogs.  Even better if they talk about the enjoyment they get from reading my blogs and newsletter – excellent reputation building!

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Consistency.  Ad hoc marketing doesn’t work.  If you are going to use Social Media, be consistent and keep doing it!

Contact Information

You can contact Chantal on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Appletree website.

Using Social Media to work collaboratively


During the last three weeks, I have been working with Gail Gibson and small businesses in Faringdon to think about how they can use Social Media to work collaboratively with other Faringdon businesses to promote Faringdon as a thriving town.  The seminars were organised by our Town Team Projects Manager, Mirabelle Mack.

For those of you who don’t know, Faringdon is a growing market town between Oxford and Swindon with some fabulous retail shops as well as over 200 small businesses in and around the town, many working from home.

Last night, Gail and I, asked attendees to think about George from a fictitious business, The Veggie PatchThe Veggie Patch.  George wants to open a fruit and veg retail shop in town and we wanted attendees to think about how George could use Social Media to market his business and how he could work collaboratively with other businesses in town in order to achieve a win:win situation.

This exercise was interesting for a number of reasons:

1. It is always easier to think about what a different business should do.  There were some great ideas on how George could develop his brand to deliver a fantastic service and a range of products to compete with supermarkets – he was a top quality greengrocer by the end of the session who we all wanted to buy from! However, so many of the ideas could be brought into our own businesses.  Learning Point: Understand your brand and how you can be remarkable before you start.

2. The  group came up with some fantastic ways for George to collaborate with other businesses. He can promote other local businesses on Social Media by sharing their content and introducing them to his contacts.  By getting people to come into town to visit our fantastic butchers, they will come to visit George’s Veggie Patch as well and then perhaps have a coffee in one of our great coffee shops.  Learning Point: Who can you work with to help others to flourish, thereby allowing you to flourish?

3.  There was a temptation for the group to dive in and say George should be using Facebook or Twitter or other tools, but they soon realised that it is not so much about what tool to use as what George is going to talk about on Social Media and who his audience is.  The group came up with some fabulous ideas about how George could add value on Social Media including educating his audience about different types of fruit and vegetables, sharing recipes and asking for recipes to be suggested, showing the personality of the brand and the story behind his suppliers, pictures of his shop, latest offers, things going on in the town, etc. Learning Point: Create a strategy first. Understand who you can talk to and what you can talk about so that you are interesting and add value over a period of time and then identify the correct tool to use.

4. The attendees got very passionate about George and what he could offer.  Learning Point: Anybody fancy starting The Veggie Patch in Faringdon?!

I hope that the businesses involved got as much out of the short sessions as I did.  It is always a good idea to take a step back and think about how you can do things better. Sometimes using a scenario is a good way of bringing out some learning points.  Let me know what you think….



Interview with Duncan Michael-MacGregor


Number seventeen of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Duncan Michael-MacGregor from Duck on Water.

Who are you and what do you do?

I run a website design business – Duck on Water.  I offer web design (graphical design, user interface) as well as web development (coding, mechanics behind the website).  I also offer a WordPress coaching and training service helping people to maintain their WordPress website as well as creating their own WordPress website.


Duncan Michael-MacGregor


How do you use Social Media?

The main social tool that I use is Twitter, although I am now starting to use LinkedIn as well.  I spend on average 15 minutes a day on Twitter developing my reputation as a WordPress specialist.  I share and promote all things WordPress as well as silly, fun links and banter with other web designers. I also use this time to keep an eye on what is going on within the web industry as emerging technologies and trends appear quickly.
As well as manual Tweets I use HootSuite to schedule useful links to automatically be shared.

Recently Gail Gibson (Business Coach & Social Media Marketing Trainer) and I, started hosting an open Twitter chat (#eyochat) every Tuesday between 1pm and 2pm. We set this up to get a dialogue going with business owners and online specialists, in order to help them out with Social Media Marketing and WordPress websites. Topics vary from website security, online reputation, how to engage website visitors to name a few.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I have had some jobs through Twitter, but the real success I have had from Twitter is the contacts that I have made with specialists that I can use to outsource particular pieces of work to.  It has also been excellent for building my reputation as a WordPress expert.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Be aware of your reputation on Twitter.  Don’t get into a heated debate as it could damage your reputation, and stay clear of politics and religion.

Contact Information

You can contact Duncan on LinkedIn, Duncan – Twitter, Duck on Water – Twitter, Duck on Water website, Empowering You Online website (for more details about the Twitter chat).

Linking YouTube Channels with Google+ Pages


As you may know, YouTube is owned by Google+.  When you create a YouTube account, a Google+ profile is automatically created for you.  Up until the last couple of weeks there was no way to associate a YouTube account with a Google+ Page only a Profile which has been a real pain.

To explain this further.  I set up my accounts a long time ago:

I created my YouTube branded account using an email address.  The account was branded Concise Training but was linked to an effectively default Google+ Profile (office@).

Concise Training YouTube Channel

I created my Google+ profile with a email address and created my Concise Training Google+ Page using this account.

Up to recently there was no way to link my Concise Training YouTube account with my Concise Training Google+ Page. Or to avoid having to log out of one and login to the other.

To link the two, I needed to go through the following steps;

1. Make the Google+ Profile a manager on my Concise Training Google+ Page

2. Login to the YouTube account and click All Channels. Select the Concise Training YouTube channel.

3. Click YouTube Settings.

4. Click Advanced

5. Select Link to Concise Training Google+ Page

6. As if by magic, the links are made with the added advantage that the videos from my YouTube ConciseTraining channel are shown directly on the Concise Training Google+ Page and anything uploaded to the channel will be posted as a status update on the page.  Fantastic!

The other advantages of this change is that you can manage multiple YouTube channels from the one account and assign managers to each channel so more than one person can upload videos to the account.  Saves me time!

Just one thing to note.  This works on all my existing channels but not on channels I created today.  It may take 24 hours for the roll out to happen.  I’ll keep you posted.

Have you had a go with this yet?  What do you think?

Interview with Caroline Anderson


Number sixteen of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Caroline Anderson from Business Boots.  Caroline was one of the first graduates of the City & Guilds accredited ITQ Social Media qualification delivered by Concise Training.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Caroline Anderson from Business Boots.  I work with businesses who want to use social media marketing.  I help businesses to develop a social media marketing strategy and then work with them to implement their strategy to achieve their marketing and engagement goals.

Caroline Anderson

How do you use Social Media?

On a personal level I use social media as an engagement tool to connect and reconnect with people.  I tell people the new things that I am involved in and find out what they are doing.  I also use Social Media to find out answers to questions and what is going on in the world of Social Media.  I use Twitter and LinkedIn the most, but also use Facebook and YouTube.  I’ve just started to see the benefits of using Pinterest as an engagement tool.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I was working with a small boutique hotel in East Yorkshire.  Two weeks before Valentine’s Day they had 2 tables booked in the restaurant.  I helped them run a Facebook ads campaign for Valentine’s Day which filled the restaurant for two sittings and filled the rooms in the hotel.  The ads we ran cost less than £10.

Personally, through my Social Media activity, I was asked to help Heineken with some of their Social Media work which led to a 2 year working relationship.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Consistent, persistent effort.  If you are going to start using Social Media, then carry on.

Contact Information

You can contact Caroline on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Business Boots Website, Pinterest

Interview with Anna Ryan


Number fifteen of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Anna Ryan from Quilting the Grain.

Who are you and what do you do?

I have a number of roles:

  1. I work for Gloucestershire Adult Education working with vulnerable adults across the county as a Soft Skills teacher.  I teach them sewing skills to boost their confidence.  Learners may be ex-offenders, young mothers or people with mental health issues.  Through learning to sew they also learn social skills and they get used to being in a classroom environment.  Once they have built some confidence they often feel happier about going on to attend literacy or numeracy classes, which in turn could lead to employment  I won Tutor of the Year this  year with Gloucestershire Adult Education.  Currently, I work predominately with women, but I hope to work with identified clients of both genders in all situations.
  2. In the evenings and weekends I work with local art centres teaching quilting, sewing and bag making courses and I also teach sewing to children in an after school club.
  3. I am building a global profile as a quilter and a designer of quilting patterns.


Anna Ryan


How do you use Social Media?

I blog most days about the quilting projects I’m working on and the colours I see around me.  I love Instagram and Twitter.  They are easy to use and provide instant connections and feedback.  There is a huge quilting community around the world, and it is fantastic making connections with others in the community.  I also have Flickr, Pinterest and YouTube accounts.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

Through Twitter and Instagram, I have just had my first design accepted by an online, modern quilting magazine.  I have been sent the material to put together the quilt design which, including the design instructions, will be featured in the Christmas issue of the magazine.  This is really big for me as it is the first step in building a brand as somebody who designs quilts.

I have just created my first quilting pattern and through requesting testers on Twitter have found 4 people to test the pattern and give feedback to make sure it will be easy to use for beginner quilters. I did have 25 people reply to my request for testers, which was phenomenal.  I will then be able to sell the pattern on my website confident that it will meet the needs to those new to quilting.

I have been quilting for 17 years.  When I started making quilts, it was really difficult to get help and break into the community of existing quilters.  Now, through the use of Social Media, I have discovered a whole world out there of people who quilt.  The craft of quilting has grown with younger, modern quilters being able to share and communicate through social media.  Worldwide quilters can now access the biggest quilt shows in the World held in America through the eyes of the lucky quilters who get to attend using Instagram and Twitter.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Look at what other people are doing and use other blogs as inspiration.  Think about your brand and what you want to say on Social Media.  After taking a look around, you do need to jump in though – don’t be scared.  If you are comfortable with what you write, somebody somewhere will also like it!  Show your personality don’t just advertise about you and your achievements, sharing your mistakes can be just as useful as sharing your triumphs. Talk about you as a person – but only share what you are happy to put out in the public arena.

Contact Information

You can contact Anna on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedInQuilting the Grain blog, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr


E-Learning or Face to Face training


As you may know, I have taken my Face to Face workshops that I deliver either here in Faringdon, Oxfordshire or on client site, and created a series of interactive E-learning courses to offer an alternative solution of learning.  Many people believe that one or other option works better but I am a firm believer that each solution I offer has a place in learning depending on the requirements of the individual or business.  I thought it would be interesting to discuss why you would choose E-learning or Face to Face training.

Why Choose E-Learning?

1. Learn at your own pace
Our E-learning courses allow you to take your time through the course to take in the Concise Training online Social Media coursesinformation in bite-sized chunks. ‘How to’ videos can be replayed as you work through the tools so you really make sure you understand or have completed the task correctly.

2. Learn in your environment
No travel costs involved or time away from the office. You can sit down and do your learning in an evening or at the weekend  – your choice.

3. Ensure all your staff have the same learning
No problems about people being away or busy on the day of the learning – all staff have access to the same learning opportunities. They will get the same ‘best practice’ messages.

4. Keep Up to Date
The world of Social Media is always changing as you probably know. Our courses are updated twice each year to represent the new way of using tools or the new functionality available. You get access to the material for 12 months when you purchase the course together with an option to renew at a reduced rate.

5. Learn when you want to
Can’t remember how to do something? Just open up the learning and have another look. The E-learning is always available – you just need an internet connection (and remember your userid / password!)

6. Remember and implement the learning
Did you know that generally learners retain 10% of what they are taught in a workshop and implement 10% of what they retain. (I’d like to think my numbers are better than that!). With E-learning you don’t need to remember, you can implement as you go.

Why Choose Face to Face Learning?

1. You learn better in a group
Many people like to learn in a group to get input from others and learn from others. ThisFace to Face training is a perfectly valid reason to join public workshops and is above and beyond the requirements and outcomes of the learning.

2. Bespoke Training Requirements
You may feel that you want bespoke training around a particular industry sector or your own business requirements. We can help you understand your particular training requirements and offer a package to meet these requirements. A combination of Face to Face and E-learning may work best for you.

3. Individual feedback and attention
There are people who need a higher level of individual support either with creating their Social Media profiles or using IT. This is a valid reason for attendance at workshops, though 1 – 1 training stretched over a period of time may suit these individuals better than a group workshop.

4. Motivation
If you or your staff know that you will never get round to completing the E-learning, then the best option for you is probably a Face to Face workshop. The workshops that I deliver are interactive, so you do actually use the tool during the workshop and will have a completed profile that you can use when you finish.

5. Focused Training
Some people prefer to get time out of the office and immerse themselves in a tool or a new area of knowledge for a day or half a day. Again, a perfectly valid reason to go for the Face to Face training option.

There is no right answer and the argument between E-Learning and Face to Face learning will continue for many years to come. I’m pleased to be able to offer a flexible solution to meet your requirements – whatever they are.  Have a look at the Face to Face  workshops and bespoke training options and our E-Learning courses.

Do let me know what you think.

Interview with Steve Preston


Number fourteen of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Steve Preston from SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) Ltd and The Career Catalyst

Who are you and what do you do?

I wear two hats:

1. Director of SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) Ltd.
This is mainly targeted at Business to Business

  • We specialise in outplacement support for companies making executive or professional staff redundant.
  • We also offer a service to individuals wanting to proactively or reactively develop their careers, following redundancy.
  • We offer training in management, team development and executive development as a service to companies.

2. Steve Preston, The Career Catalyst
This is mainly targeted at Business to Consumer
As a result of writing and promoting “Winning through Redundancy – Six steps to navigate your way to a better future”, I decided to develop a new brand to promote the book and associated products and services.

I act as a catalyst for people to help them achieve career and life change.  I have a range of products:

  • Online programmes
  • MP3 downloads
  • Books – “Winning through Redundancy – Six steps to navigate your way to a better future”
  • Audio books –  “I Want A Career Change” and “How Colourful is Your Umbrella”
  • Master classes and personal coaching programmes

Steve Preston

How do you use Social Media?

I have now moved away from traditional marketing methodologies and use Social Media as my primary method of marketing.

I use Social Media for The Career Catalyst in a tactical manner to develop brand recognition and to run campaigns to drive sales of the products.  I link to articles where possible so that it does not look like I’m selling.

I have found SlideShare useful.  I created some slides for a webinar and have put the slides onto Slideshare.  I shared the SlideShare link through Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

I use all of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, SlideShare, Blogging, YouTube, guest blogging and E-Zine.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I was found on LinkedIn by an ex colleague from 30 years ago. This led to them getting their employer to agree to a programme of executive career transition training support, which helped to transform her career and life and referral business for us.

Using LinkedIn groups to get involved in discussions and help in a non-threatening way has led to more enquiries than I get on my website.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

It takes time to develop a profile, presence and brand online so have patience.  Remember, nothing happens without positive action – so you do have to do something.  Don’t forget to give, don’t just take, when using social media.

Contact Information

You can contact Steve on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter (SMP Solutions), Twitter (The Career Catalyst), SMP Solutions Ltd, The Career Catalyst, YouTube (The Career Catalyst), YouTube (SMP Solutions Ltd) SMP Solutions Blog

Beginners guide to Hashtags


Hashtags have been used for ages on Twitter updates and Google+ updates and now they can be included on Facebook status updates.  A quick beginners guide to hashtags….

What are Hashtags?

Hashtags are a way of including a keyword within your status update.  They are clickable links, so clicking on a hashtag will show you other status updates that also include the hashtag.  You can use any words or combined words of your choice as a hashtag (no spaces).  It is worth searching for the current use of a hashtag if you are using it to brand your product, service or event.

Uses of Hashtags in Twitter

Hashtags are used in a number of ways in Twitter:

1. Group conversations about an event
An event allocates a hashtag to the event and advertises the hashtag before the event. Twitter users can have a conversation before, during and after the event by using the event hashtag in updates and listening to updates using the hashtag,

2. Twitter chat
Using a hashtag allows a group of diverse people to talk together for a period of time. Twitter chats are rapid exchanges of views and work best when well moderated.  Have a look at #oxhour which happens on a Wednesday from 8pm – 9pm.

3. Keywords
Including a hashtag as a keyword in an update allows people listening for the keywordTwitter hashtags to spot your update more easily.  It is also more likely to be found by search engines (though this isn’t fully implemented).

4. Adding context to an update
Some people use hashtags to identify the context of their tweet or to add humor e.g. #lovingthespeed

Uses of Hashtags in Google+

Google+ Hashtags

Google+ has taken the concept of hashtags to heart and have added functionality to make using hashtags easier.

Google+ will attempt to add hashtags to an update if they are not already included.  Hashtags are displayed in the top right hand corner of updates and clicking the hashtag will show other updates using the same hashtag.

This is a great way of finding other people talking about the same hashtag in Google+ and should be used to build your audience as well as to listen to what others are saying.  You can search for hashtags in Google+ and I’m sure search will be implemented in the main search engine too.

Uses of Hashtags in Facebook

So now hashtags have been introduced in Facebook as well!  Just include the #hashtag on your post and it will become a clickable link to see all updates that have been shared with you using the hashtag. (unless you are using the mobile app where hashtags aren’t yet clickable)

The introduction of hashtags was inevitable, as Facebook was losing out on traffic relating to brands who were advertising themselves via a hashtag on TV adverts for example.

One thing to note is that if you share an update with a private group of friends and use a hashtag, the update will stay private – if you share publicly, the update will be included in the updates related to the hashtags.

Remember though there is a good chance that Facebook will use the information to make advertising more relevant.  So if you were to hashtag #CocaCola for example, how long will it be before you start using Coca Cola adverts?

The other thing about hashtags is that if you find somebody saying something interesting in the hashtag stream, the nature of Facebook means that it is harder to connect with them than on Google+ or Twitter.

If you want to know more about using hashtags on Social Media, you should look at our range of online courses.

What do you think about hashtags?  Are they an important part of your social media marketing and what platforms work best for you?

Interview with Narjas Carrington-Windo


Number thirteen of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Narjas Carrington-Windo from iNKLiNGS

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a ‘creative’.  I studied architecture and eventually became a graphical designer.  I am passionate about branding.  I think branding identifies who we are and what makes us tick.  I am a teacher at heart and in my business I help small businesses communicate more effectively with their target audience through the use of visuals.  I do this by designing or revamping their branding to deliver their message in a clear way.  I often start with the business card of a business to make sure that it reflects the brand of the business as well as communicating the correct message.

Narjas Carringdon-Windo


How do you use Social Media?

I enjoy blogging and blog most days about what I’m thinking and designing.  I share my blog on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.  I love Twitter as the 140 character limit distils the message.  I also enjoy the social aspect of Twitter.  I have a Facebook page and a LinkedIn profile. I use Pinterest as a way of sharing design and information with others – I create a scrap board on Pinterest to illustrate my ideas.  On a personal level I also use Foursquare to promote other businesses.  Like many others I haven’t yet got to grips with Google+ but I do know people that say it is the best of the lot.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

Blogging is definitely working.  Since I have been regularly blogging, I have been getting more enquiries.  Perhaps, more importantly for me, I get a great deal of personal satisfaction from creating my blog.  I find that being able to write my thoughts has increased and focused my creativity.

I have had referrals and enquiries on Twitter and I also use it to get information for my own needs and to talk about other people

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Twitter is like a fine wine – it grows better with age!  Have a go with Twitter, experience it, give it a chance and it will start to bear fruit.

Contact Information

You can contact Narjas on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, iNKLiNGS Website, iNKLiNGS Blog

Social Media is free – isn’t it?


A business uses Social Media as a marketing tool.  Whether the emphasis is on relationship marketing or content marketing as described in this previous blog entry, the ultimate reason for using Social Media as a business is as a way of exposing the brand and message to more people to find more business.  Social Media marketing is free – right?

(Using Social Media for personal use is a completely different argument and not considered in this blog.)

Free Resources

It is true that there are many resources available on the internet to help you use Social Media tools.  If you spend the time to find and read all the resources each week (as Social Media changes so frequently) then you can certainly do your Social Media marketing yourself for free other than the cost of your time for the research.

I would question though, whether this is a good use of your time?  Is your time better spent  doing what you are good at – servicing your clients or creating products for your clients to buy?  Should you really be spending your time researching how to use Social Media – believe me, it takes loads of time!

If you agree with the principle that this research isn’t a good use of your time, you then have three options.

  • Employ somebody in your business to do the research and manage your Social Media marketing
  • Buy in training and manage your own Social Media marketing within the business
  • Outsource your Social Media marketing to somebody else.

Let’s look at these three options in turn.

Have somebody in your business do the research and manage your Social Media marketing.

This is certainly an option – though I would still question whether it is the best use of time for somebody to do their own research.  An option may be to employ a Social Media marketing manager within the business which is certainly a valid option and will take care of many of the issues discussed here.  This may not be an option for you though as you may need to pay a premium for somebody with the right skills.

Buy in training and manage your own Social Media marketing

There are a number of people who offer Social Media training for a variety of prices.  As with anything in this world, you are likely to pay for what you get.  When selecting a trainer I would advise you check:

  • their qualifications as a trainer
  • how they use Social Media themselves
  • their testimonials relating to Social Media training
  • the learning solutions offered – workshops, at your site, e-learning, bespoke
  • their general knowledge of Social Media to ensure that they train in the world of Social Media marketing not ‘how to use Twitter’.  For example, if a client asks for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn training, my initial response is “have you completed a Social Media strategy to check that they are the correct Social Media tools for the business”.
  • ongoing support provided
  • how they keep themselves updated with Social Media changes
  • what you will achieve from the training.  Each of the Social Media tools are becoming quite complex.  Your training ought to be practical and long enough to explore the tools in depth.  I would suggest 1/2 day per tool at a minimum.

Remember you are paying for your trainer to keep up to date with the latest developments in Social Media so you don’t have to.  You also don’t have to do any research to find out how to use the tools.  How much is this worth to you?

As with any training, you need to put in the commitment to implement the training within the business – you may need to put processes in place within the business to allow staff time to do this.

If you manage your own Social Media, you are in the charge of your own marketing message and you can build relationships with people that you want to work with. How powerful is it to be able to react and engage with your customers – ask them questions and find out what is going on in their lives?

Outsource your Social Media marketing

This is certainly an option – there are many individuals and teams of people who offer an excellent service.  Make sure that you understand what you are getting for your money.  You are asking somebody to be an extension of your business and to share your marketing message with others.  Make sure you know the answers to the following questions:

  • What experience of Social Media do they have?  Do they have a qualification for example?
  • How do they keep themselves up to date?
  • How do they use Social Media?
  • Will they help you create a Social Media Strategy to make sure that you are spending your money wisely?
  • How much content do you have to provide and how much do they create?  Will the content be developed bespoke to your business?
  • How will they understand the tone and values of your business?
  • Who will be responsible for monitoring for responses and replying?
  • Do they provide a service which ‘broadcasts’ your message or are they trying to engage with others?
  • How much time are they going to spend on your Social Media each day?
  • Have they asked you what you want to achieve from your Social Media marketing?

Again, you will pay for what you get – you are paying for somebody to look after your marketing message, keep up to date with Social Media developments and advise you how to get the best return on your investment.  I would query whether anybody except you and your staff can carry out relationship marketing on Social Media, so before going down the outsourcing route, I would recommend you are sure whether you want to use Social Media for content marketing or relationship marketing to achieve your aims.

Marketing is an important function of your business. How long do you spend checking leaflets or adverts before you allow them to go to print?  How much do the printed leaflets or the adverts cost?

Social Media marketing is part of the marketing function, the message is more instant than printed leaflets or adverts and will last for longer, so why do so many businesses expect Social Media to be free?

What do you think?  Please share your views by clicking Comments.

Interview with Annie Williams


Number twelve of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Annie Williams from Business Starts with People.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Annie Williams.  I started “Business Starts with People” six months ago.  My background is in dental practice management having worked for many years in the field and with a degree in Dental Practice Management.  I now help dental practices to achieve the best results they can.  Dentists are very busy looking after teeth and often don’t have the time to resolve issues in their business.  Issues can arise because of a lack of staff motivation which is due to staff training and direction, and also lack of communication.  I work with the practice, troubleshoot their issues and provide a set of tools to turn the practice around.  For example, I increased the profits of one practice by £19K in 18 months.  Another practice had significant empty diaries, behind on their NHS contract which could have led to a hefty fine.  By working with the practice team, I helped them smash their targets and make a healthy profit.

Annie Wiliams

How do you use Social Media?

I write a blog and use Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. I write about common issues that occur and how I have previously resolved them. I engage with people in the dental community.  I like Twitter the most as it has more of a social aspect so makes it easier to get to know people.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

During the last 6 months, the Social Media that I have engaged with has helped me to build my brand awareness.  My Twitter followers are constantly increasing, and more people contact me through LinkedIn, and like my comments.  I regularly participate in #sbs (Small Business Sunday) and have engaged with a number of businesses as a result.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Engage in conversation and allow people to get to know you.  Give as much advice as you can. #SBS really gets your name out there, as well as getting to know other businesses.

Contact Information

You can contact Annie on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Business Starts with People website

Why I use Google apps for email


I try to be really organised when it comes to email and try to only have email in my inbox that I haven’t yet dealt with.  All other email gets filed into folders.  I do get a certain amount of satisfaction when I reduce my email to less than 10!

About 12 months ago, I was doing a lot of travelling to London.  I was finding that I was answering email when I was on the train either on my laptop or using my phone and then got home and would have to go through the same email messages filing them.  This clearly was not a good use of time.  The reason for this was that I was using Outlook for my email with no server.

I looked into setting up Microsoft Exchange – and got a variety of quotes – all seeming to be quite high for what I wanted.  It was then suggested that I look at Google Apps.  Google Apps for BusinessGoogle Apps for Business currently costs £33 / user /year.

Now I use a Outlook front end on my desktop and laptop machines and use Mail on my iPad and iPhone and my newly acquired Nexus 10 (that is another story).

On every device, I can see all my folders and if I reply to email on one device that is reflected on all the other devices.  Fantastic.  It is effectively a Gmail account – so I could use Gmail if I get tired of Outlook – and links through to my Google+ account.

It was really easy to set up – I just needed to register my domain name and get my website hosting service to change some DNS server information.

On a separate note, I have also a different domain for which the email is monitored by myself and a colleague.  Using Google apps for this domain has solved this problem really easily as well.

Out of interest, Google apps comes with Google Drive (like drop box) and Google documents which allows simultaneous editing of documents.

What do you think?  Do you use Google apps?

Interview with Gail Gibson


The eleventh of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Gail Gibson from The Portfolio Lifestylist.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am passionate about making a difference through motivating and inspiring people to Rediscover, Reframe and Reinvent themselves! I help individuals and businesses stand out from the crowd.  I do this in a number of ways:

  • At a personal level, I work as a life coach to help women develop their 5 key ‘selfs’ – self-confidence, self-belief, self-image, self-esteem and self-worth.
  • As a business coach with extensive knowledge of business development, marketing and communications, I work with business owners to find out what makes their business unique and how they can make their business stand out from the crowd.
  • I am a trainer offering training in team development, face to face business networking, social media marketing, and marketing and presentation skills.  I also train in portfolio career and lifestyle development – ‘How Colourful is Your Umbrella? – Creating your Portfolio of Choice’.
  • As a speaker, I motivate and inspire, so people can be remarkable and stand out from the crowd.

Gail Gibson

How do you use Social Media?

Apart from face to face networking, Social Media is an integral part of how I market my business.  I use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  I find Social Media is a fun, targeted way to build a community that is incredibly powerful when used right.

The immediacy, speed and sound bite format of Twitter has proved to be very effective.  I have a different audience on LinkedIn, so find LinkedIn useful for sharing ideas and thoughts and getting people to find out who I am, to raise brand awareness.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

In 2011, I posted a tweet saying that I was going to be in Perth, Western Australia for a month.  This directly led to two speaking engagements – one at a woman’s networking group and one with a book shop.  This led to sales of my book as well as new connections and opportunities.

I have also found Twitter to be useful to gain introductions to people.  Others have used tweets to recommend my work which has led to work for me.

LinkedIn has raised my own profile and also the profile of the ‘How Colourful is Your Umbrella – Creating your Portfolio of Choice’ portfolio career and lifestyle Master class.  Being active in a number of LinkedIn groups, in particular the ‘Portfolio Career’ group which has resulted in widening the awareness of the portfolio lifestyle concept, having talked to people in the US and Australia about potential future links and opportunities.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Brand You.  Always think before you tweet, retweet or post anything to ensure what you are saying reflects brand you.

Contact Information

You can contact Gail on Twitter, LinkedIn and How Colourful is Your Umbrella Facebook Page

Which version of Microsoft Office


During the last 10 years, we have had the opportunity to buy 4 different versions of Microsoft Office.  I find there is still some confusion about which version of Microsoft Office is the best so I thought I’d write a quick summary.

The major upgrade was between Office 2003 and Office 2007.  The whole look of the interface changed to a ‘ribbon’ and additional functionality was included.  The functionality made improvements to Word and PowerPoint by including better ways to format shapes, themes, SmartArt, the ability to crop pictures.  In Excel conditional formatting and pivot tables became easier.  This was a definite improvement – though some training was required to make sure the change-over happened smoothly.

In 2010, the ribbon interface came to Outlook, the image editing in all the tools became better and you could now edit videos as well right within the tool.  Office 2010 included a fantastic screen clipping tool that I use roughly 20 times every day!  If you write material that needs screen shots – this is worth the upgrade alone.

Now we have 2013.  So what is in this version?  The interface has changed slightly and Skydrive (Microsoft’s cloud functionality) has become integrated into the tool. The interface supports touch screens – if you can type on a tablet this might work for you? I like the way that the tool remembers where you were in a document and takes you straight there when you return.  Some of the quick analysis functions on Excel are useful and the new version of Outlook looks interesting – but that is about it

As regarding upgrading:

  • If you are still using 2003, then you should seriously consider upgrading to 2013 immediately.
  • If you are on 2007, then there are some tools that make it worth upgrading to 2013
  • If you already have 2010, there really is no need to upgrade.

From my experience, I do have 2013 on a laptop (with windows 8) so I can use it for training purposes but I haven’t felt the need to upgrade my main machine which still uses 2010.

What do you think?  Which version do you use?  You may be interested in our City & Guilds accredited online Level 3 Microsoft Office qualification or our face to face Microsoft Office training solutions.

Interview with Patrick Bird


The tenth of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Patrick Bird from Interactive Performance Management.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a facilitator, trainer, coach and public speaker.  I work with corporate clients through an associate relationship.  For example I am currently working with a Government Department as an associate of Price Waterhouse Coopers.  I frequently use role play in my work and finding business through an associate relationship is easier as I find it difficult to sell what I do to end clients.  I often form a part of a change management or HR project run by my associate partner.  I also deliver a number of talks.  For example I spoke at the Institute of Grocery Distribution master class.

Patrick Bird

How do you use Social Media?

I mainly use LinkedIn. I do have a presence on Twitter but that is generally a repeat of whatever I update on Twitter.  I would like to put together some video blogs in the future.  I also send out a newsletter every 2 months.

I find LinkedIn really useful for keeping in touch with people that I have trained.  Graduates who have come to master class events a few years ago are now in more senior positions and I find LinkedIn and a newsletter a good way of keeping in ‘front of mind’.

I subscribe to the premium version of LinkedIn which allows me to send a number of inmails each month.  Each month I use LinkedIn to research companies and individuals who might be interested in the skill that I am promoting that month, e.g. Story telling might be a promotion and I will search to find experimental training companies, acting companies, etc.  I then send a structured inmail focused around the individual and what I have found out during my research.  In October I sent out 9 inmails, got 7 replies, 6 meetings, 3 contacts and 2 are leading to business.  The success of it does depend on the quality of the research I carry out and how targeted I can make the inmail.

I do use LinkedIn groups to post discussions around articles I have written, but I need to spend more time finding the right groups and being more focused, getting involved in discussions.  When I was able to use LinkedIn answers, I found that answering questions was successful so I know that being more targeted with groups would work.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

The Price Waterhouse Coopers contact was somebody I met 4 years ago but I kept in contact with through LinkedIn and newsletters so when he needed some work done, he thought of me when he needed my style of training and this has led to a large contract.

I also like the fact that LinkedIn is accessible from wherever I happen to be.  It has become my main form of marketing.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Understand why you are using LinkedIn.  Spamming groups doesn’t work.  Use a focused approach and update on a regular basis.

Contact Information

You can contact Patrick on Twitter, LinkedIn and Interactive Performance Management

Tools to monitor Social Media


Last week I was asked to recommend tools to monitor Social Media for trending topics and mentions.  True to my recent tweet that any question you get asked should form the content of a blog entry……

This really divides into three topics –

  • monitoring for mentions of a brand or product
  • identifying trending topics
  • seeing the latest or most popular news articles.

Monitoring for mentions

Mentions App
Mention AppIn order to monitor for mentions of “concise training”, I have found the Mentions app to be really useful (though it does have bugs in terms of functionality).  I have created an alert that informs me whether the phrase “concise training” is mentioned on blogs, Facebook, Forums, Images, News, Twitter, Videos or the web.  Not only does it tell me when I have been retweeted or mentioned on Twitter, but I have also discovered blogs that I have been mentioned in and even a video site that featured the Concise Online daily tips.  Free to use at a basic level – definitely one to look at.

Social Mention
A similar tool that works really well for ad hoc searches is socialmention.  I often use it to find out what people are saying about a client before a meeting!

Other tools to explore

Twilert – get an email digest when a phrase is included in any tweet in a geographical location.  For example anybody talking about ‘Twitter training’ within 30 miles of Oxford.

Google Alerts – get email digests of mentions of phrases across the web

I have found that none of the tools offer a complete view so it is a good idea to use a number of tools to make sure that everything is covered.

Trending Topics

Trending topics are the content that people are talking about most on the web.  If a phraseTwitter Trends is mentioned frequently on Twitter, Google+ or YouTube it is identified as a trending topic.  Contributing to the conversation of topics that are trending is a good way of getting your content seen by more people as people will follow a trending topic rather than individual people.  However like everything you need to make sensible comments and add value rather than ‘jump on the bandwagon’ or sell.

Trending topics can be seen in Twitter on the home page – or by pressing the search button on the right hand side of HootSuite.  (Be aware, I’m getting slightly different results even when setting the location to the UK on each).

On Google+, trending topics can be seen by looking at ‘What’s Hot’.

On Facebook, there is no immediate way to see what is trending.  I use the NewsWhip app which displays stories that have had the most Facebook shares and tweets.  A good way of finding popular content  that you might want to share or comment on.  You can set location and topics to view.

Topics that are being shared by your LinkedIn network will be shown in your LinkedIn home feed.

Checking the Youtube trending dashboard will show you the most viewed or most shared videos

News Items

The other type of content you might want to think about checking on a regular basis is the latest news stories.  I like the Google Currents app but flipboard is favoured by some. In both these apps, you can set the sources that you want to collate information from, as well as the topics you want to prioritise.

Over to you

What do you use?  How do you keep track of what is going on?



Interview with Lucinda Hart


The ninth of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Lucinda Hart, The Balloon Lady.

Who are you and what do you do?

The Balloon Lady decorates weddings, parties and corporate events with balloons and flowers.  We print balloons for corporate marketing and also offer DIY balloon packs.  The Balloon Lady was started by me, my mother and father 19 years ago, initially selling balloons.  When I joined the business full time after university, we started offering flowers as well.

Lucinda Hart

How do you use Social Media?

I use Twitter for brand recognition and local networking.

I use our Facebook page to share photos and get to know our brides.  I also connect with other event businesses through the page.  When I have got to know a bride, I encourage her to connect with my personal Facebook account and make sure that I get to know her as a friend so that I can offer a personal service.  I spend about 1.5 hours each day on Facebook.

I don’t use LinkedIn yet, but this is one to explore to expand the corporate side of the business.

Interestingly, although I don’t use Pinterest for our images as I’m concerned about copyright, our brides come to us with images that they have pinned.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

We have had a couple of bookings through Twitter.

In the last 14 months, we have had 37 pieces of business through our Facebook page ranging from small pieces of work to full scale weddings.  I have also been referred to other brides through the Facebook page.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

You need to use the tools which work for you and your business.  Identify which tools your target audience are using and focus on them.  People buy from people so take the time to make the effort to get to know people.  Do be aware though that you may need to be responsive at all times of the day and night!

Contact Information

You can contact Lucinda on Twitter, Facebook and The Balloon Lady

LinkedIn Contacts


I was excited to be given the new LinkedIn Contacts functionality at the end of last week.  I talked about this in my last post on LinkedIn Changes.  You can sign up for the functionality at I love the new functionality – though I can see room for improvement – which no doubt will happen as LinkedIn gets feedback.

When you sign up for the module, you can link to your email system – though it will work without this.  I am using Google apps for my email (with an Outlook front end), so it was a simple case of linking through Gmail.  This brought into LinkedIn any notes that I made against a contact in my email system and imported the latest email messages I have exchanged with a contact.

Now when I click on a contact, I can see an additional box.  LinkedIn Contact

For each contact I can add notes or information about how we met. I can see the lastest emails that we have exchanged.  I can group my contacts by using the Tag feature.  I can also schedule a reminder to contact this person again in a day, a week or a month – or regularly.

CIicking on Contacts > Connections from the Main Menu,allows me to click on Today on the left hand side.

Start your day

This shows me which of my contacts have a new position or a birthday today and allows me to send them a message directly from within LinkedIn.  A default message does come up but you can personalise it as you wish.  Just be careful, at the moment, if you send a message, the box doesn’t go away so you could accidentally send the message twice!  The message isn’t yet displayed as part of the information about the contact either which is also an error in my opinion.

Clicking on the calendar button on the right, will show me my calendar from my email system.  Remember my email and calendar is part of Google apps so actually this is showing me my calendar from Google.

Looking at the list of contacts directly below ‘Today’, I can sort my contacts by recent conversation, newly added, alphabetical, location or interestingly ‘lost contact’.  LinkedIn gives you a list of when it thinks you last contacted certain people.  A great way of deciding whether to send a message to get back in touch or to remove from your connections list.

Just a note – you can no longer send a message to a group of contacts – probably because too many people were using this for blanket spamming.

The functionality will be available in mobile devices too – though at the moment it is not available in the UK app stores.

I do have concerns about security and the lack of backup of the notes and so will be careful what I store within LinkedIn, but in general, I can see that I will make use of this new functionality to form better relationships with my LinkedIn contacts – and of course that is what LinkedIn is all about.

Have you got this new functionality yet?  What do you think?

Interview with Chris Roberts


The eighth of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Chris Roberts from the Fairford and Lechlade business club.

Who are you and what do you do?

Chris Roberts MBE.  I am a town councillor, run the Fairford and Lechlade business club and I run the Fairford and Lechlade food and drink festivals.  I also write for local newspapers and magazines about local issues. For example, I write for the Ripples magazine.  I am also keen to help with fundraising initiatives.

Chris Roberts

How do you use Social Media?

I have created a Facebook page for the Fairford and Lechlade business club and I also have a personal Facebook account. I have two Twitter accounts, 1 for the Business Club and a personal account.  I have a LinkedIn personal profile.

I’m not a big fan of LinkedIn as I haven’t seen much work from it but I do like Twitter as a professional communication tool and Facebook as a personal communication tool.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

A couple of examples.

First a personal example.  I had been having problems with a financial company, let’s call them ABC, for about 2 years.  They had lost my money and couldn’t find it and they had taken money out of an ISA account without asking me so I lost my ISA allowance for the year.  I was getting nowhere with letters, calls and contacting the Financial Ombudsman.  Something else happened with company ABC, so I tweeted ‘Just when I thought ABC couldn’t annoy me any more, they’ve managed to mess up my account even more.’  Immediately a representative of ABC tweeted me asking me to phone a number.  This was the number of the head of customer service.  Within 3 weeks the whole issue was sorted out and I received a letter of apology from the MD and a case of wine!  The power of Social Media!

Secondly, I find Twitter really useful to promote the Fairford & Lechlade food & drink festivals.  I have found people who are interested in booking stalls and made the public aware of the festivals.  It is a great way of promoting local businesses who have sponsored the food festival.

I have found both Facebook and Twitter really useful as a way of spreading information about the business club and promoting businesses in the club.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

My top tip is to use Social Media to promote yourself and your business, but be careful what you say as the whole world is watching.

Contact Information

You can contact Chris on LinkedIn, Twitter – Personal Account, Twitter – Fairford & Lechlade Buiness Club,  Facebook – Fairford and LEchlade Business Club, Fairford and Lechlade Food Festival, Fairford and Lechlade Business Club

5 LinkedIn changes – May 2013


So during May 2013 LinkedIn made another set of updates – to round up the changes that are being rolled out at the moment:

1. Tags

You can now mention or tag people and companies within a personal statusLinkedIn Tagging update.  This is similar to Facebook.  By entering @Di in a status update any of your contacts that are called Di will be listed in a drop down list.  Click the right one and they will be included in the status update.  They will also receive an email to say that they have been mentioned.  This might be a good way of reaching out to individuals or businesses.

2. Include images or files on your LinkedIn profile

When you edit your summary, experience or education, youLinkedIn add file should soon start to see (or you may already have) the button shown on the right.  Clicking this button allows you to add a link to a slideshare presentation, video or document or upload a file or image directly to your profile.  This allows you to display videos that explain your business or images to show case your product or services.

3. LinkedIn Today

LinkedIn Today allows you to keep up to date with the news and share / comment on news that you find interesting or relevant.  LinkedIn Today has been changed so that you can now choose ‘channels’ to follow.  Channels are topics of interest eg. Customer service, recruiting and hiring, higher education.  You can also choose influencers to follow.  Unfortunately LinkedIn have removed the source filter that you used to be able to select so you can no longer choose to use UK based news.

News from your channels and influencers will now appear in your news feed for you to read, share, comment and like.

4. LinkedIn Contacts

This isn’t available in the UK yet – it is being rolled out to people in the US over the next few weeks.  LinkedIn Contacts is an extension of the LinkedIn Outlook connector app which I find extremely useful.  When you look at an individual’s profile in LinkedIn, the LinkedIn contacts app will show you all emails and other contacts that you have had with an individual.  You will be able to set reminders and write notes against a contact.  It will become your own personal Customer Relationship Management system.  It will be interesting to see how to works out.

5. Mobile Phone App

The new mobile phone app is easier to use and customisable.  It also feels very quick – definitely worth updating.

LinkedIn Online Course

By the way, all these updates and more will shortly be incorporated into our LinkedIn online course.  Don’t forget for just £97 + VAT, you will get access to our course for 1 year which will include 2 updates to the course material.  By working through the e-learning course, you will find out how to find more business using LinkedIn.  How much business do you need to see a return on your £97 investment?

Over to You

So what do you think?  I would love to get your thoughts on these changes.

Interview with Anthony Wilson


The seventh of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Anthony Wilson from Scraptors.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am one of a group of 3 people who make up Scraptors – we make sculptor out of scrap.  We specialise in sculptor trials.  We have recently created a trail at a Dorset eco farm and at the Stourhead National Trust property.

Anthony Wilson

How do you use Social Media?

We are comparative novices with Social Media and learning all the time.

We have a blog which we update regularly with our latest sculptors and trails.  I do use Twitter for getting information – for example, I needed to get my dogs micro chipped and I found out through Twitter that the RSPCA were doing it for free one weekend.  In terms of Scraptors, we post our news to our Facebook page which is getting more interest now – as we are spending more time on it.

I have found Pinterest interesting – I spent time pinning images from people that do recycling sculptures.  I pinned them to a board called ‘Sculptures we like” – this has already generated contacts with people all over the world.  I aim to spend a day pinning more of our own images to generate more interest.

We are going to use Social Media to promote a crowd funding project on Sponsume. The Scraptors’ sculpture mad garden near Stonehenge has a public footpath at the bottom. This means that our project for a Bird Henge, next to the path, will be visible free 24 x 7. It will be a Henge, a circle of sculptors of Wiltshire birds. We are going to use 10ft high posts topped with birds made out of scrap.  The birds will include a Great Bustard, a Red Kite, a Buzzard, a Kestrel, a Barn Owl and a Lapwing.  The Great Bustard (the heaviest flying bird) has been reintroduced into Wiltshire on nearby Salisbury Plain recently and the Great Bustard group will receive 5% of monies raised from the project

We are looking for £2000 in funding for the project – everybody who contributes £1 upwards will receive a certificate by email with one of the birds to print. Higher contributions will receive prints and miniature bird sculptures. All contributors will be entitled to a visit, by prior appointment, to explore the 2 acre Scraptors sculpture mad garden.

I hope to use Social Media to promote interest about the project and also to inform our supporters of progress. On Twitter and Facebook we will offer certificates by email for all those that share our project.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

We have won a commission for a small sculpture in Devon for SusTrans purely through our use of Social Media.  Hopefully in a few months, we will be able to update this with the success of our Birdhenge! Social media needs to be combined, of course, with conventional face to face networking and marketing and that combination has meant that we are in exploratory talks with two estates, one at Strouhead in Wiltshire and another in Herefordshire about installing sculpture trails. In both instances the blog and other sites were a vital element.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

The words in a tweet are really important if you want people to click on a link – you need to give people a reason to click as there is so much noise out there.  The other aspect I would try to remember is not every tweet should be about yourself!

Contact Information

You can contact Anthony Wilson on LinkedIn, and the Scraptors on Twitter, Facebook, Scraptors Blog, Pinterest,  In June  Sponsume Birdhenge Crowdsourcing project.

Personal Brand on Social Media


What is your personal brand on Social Media?

Last week I was lucky enough to be approached by two separate companies to a) write a book and b) create a seminar / workshop about how Social Media is used at a personal level to promote an individual’s personal brand.  The seminar/ workshop will be aged at young people aged between 14 and 21 and the book will be for all age groups.

Personal brandingPersonal Brand on Social Media is an interesting subject.  Universities are starting to use Social Media to help the selection process of candidates – so teenagers need to be aware of how their Social Media profiles reflect them as a person.  It is not so much the photographs but what they say – are the applicants homophobic, racist or overly critical?  Is their evidence of them bullying others on Social Media?

Similarly employers will look at Social Media profiles during the recruitment process – we have all heard about the 17 year old deputy police commissioner whose tweets when she was 14 came back to haunt her.

My advice to any teenager or young person is to remember that what you say on Social Media is public, unless you use private messaging.  Don’t let it come back to haunt you.

I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this topic as the book and seminars progress.  What do you think I should include?

Interview with Alison Neale


The sixth of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Alison Neale from The Proof Fairy.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a proofreader, copywriter and published author.  Having published my own book “The Boy from Hell”, I offer a mentoring, editing and publishing service to people who want to write their own books.  I also talk and raise awareness about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in children.

Alison Neale

How do you use Social Media?

For my business, I use Social Media in general and Twitter and Facebook in particular as a relationship building tool.

I have used Twitter to promote my new book more than I have ever used it to promote my business.  I have been able to connect with my influencers – other people working in the area of ADHD as well as relevant media contacts.   Using Twitter I have been able to make these influencers aware of the book and they have helped me promote it.

I have used Facebook in a number of ways:

  • pay per click advertising on Facebook: this probably broke even in terms of book sales, but raised awareness of the book.
  • I have found other authors through Facebook groups – these are groups for authors to give each other support and ideas in marketing and again raise awareness.
  • I did a virtual launch party using Facebook events (more on this in a moment)

Although I have been using LinkedIn for a while for my copywriting business, I have just started to use LinkedIn to make connections with charities and will be looking at joining relevant charitable or support groups.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I had no idea how the Facebook launch event was going to work.  I had prepared a few quizzes and competitions but just decided to give it a go.  I told my Facebook friends about it and promoted it through my newsletter.  I was blown away by the result.  It ran from 1pm – 8pm on a Saturday and I had about 100 people drop in through the day. Quite a few of these were people I didn’t know but had heard about the event through others.  I had a competition running every hour.  For example, I invited people to write a poem using the letters ADHD, find the answers to a puzzle by looking at parts of my website and so on.  The prizes were e-books of all sorts (fiction, business and of course my book) – I had previously used Facebook to make contact with other authors who offered their e-book as a prize in return for a bit of promotion.

There were really good conversations throughout the day – both general chat and people asking questions and offering advice from their experience of ADHD.  My son, ‘the boy from hell’ was on hand to answer questions for ½ hour as well which went down really well.

Overall the launch day exceeded all my expectations – both raising the profile of the book and resulting in book sales.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

My main tip is to not be afraid of trying something on Social Media.  You shouldn’t try to do everything as not every platform is right for everyone, but do experiment to see if the platform works for you – you might be surprised!

Contact Information

You can contact Alison on LinkedIn, ProofFairy – Twitter, Facebook, Proof Fairy Website, The Boy From Hell, Twitter, Facebook, The Boy From Hell Website

Tools to create video


Are you using video in your content marketing?  I know it is something that I want to use better during the second half of 2013. Producing a video is a great way of showing the personality behind your business and another way of communicating with your audience.

Tools to create video

A video does not always have to be a moving image of you or your employees or a talking head – although this can sometimes be valuable.  We cover creation of video in our Video for Business online course.  You might want to consider creating the following types of video:

  1. A screen recording of your on line product or to share Twitter for Business Videohints and tips.  I use Screen-cast-o-matic to record the demonstration of the Concise Training Twitter online course.
  2. A video made out of a series of PowerPoint slides with audio or music.  This may well get your point across and is an easy way to start with video.  Using PowerPoint 2010, you can save your presentation as a video file.  Have a look at the instructions from Microsoft.
  3. How about using VideoScribe to create a ‘writing hand’ style of video?  I love thisCreative Thinking Video Scribe video from Amanda Graham of Equalta.  Amanda does training in creative thinking and produced this video to share an example of what she can do.  I believe it was easy to use the software – producing a fantastic result.
  4. Another tool you might want to explore is PowToon.  This tool allows you to create cartoon style videos to get your point across.  Depending on your audience, this may be a more appropriate tool for you.

From 1st May, Concise Training are starting a series of short daily tips to showcase our online courses.  Do have a look at the Concise Online channel and subscribe to get the tips.  The May tips are all about using LinkedIn.

What tools to create video have you used?  It would be great to share ideas.

Interview with Charlotte Mannion


The fifth of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Charlotte Mannion from Quicklearn.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am the founder of Quicklearn.  We help business people to improve their communication skills.  We run workshops covering business writing, report writing, as well as all aspects of verbal communication.  We often work within departments in larger businesses.  We also offer individual 1 – 1 coaching to work on an individual’s immediate skills need.

Charlotte Mannion

How do you use Social Media?

LinkedIn – I use LinkedIn to communicate with my corporate clients through updates and engagement.

Twitter – I have two Twitter accounts, Quicklearn has over 4,000 followers worldwide.  I tend to use it on a more personal basis and can be a little controversial.  I also use this account to help others by getting their message out to more people.  Writingforwork is more business like and is more UK Based.

Facebook – I enjoy using my Facebook page.  I upload pictures, facts and figures, tips.  I get comments if I post something more controversial.  Many of my fans are spread out over the UK, so it is used for more brand building.

Blog – I blog every Tuesday, scheduling blogs four weeks in advance and shifting if something more topical needs to be covered.  I share the blog across Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I share my blogs on LinkedIn which generate questions and enquiries and ultimately business.

I take part in a number of LinkedIn groups and have found business through using discussions to make people aware of spaces available on workshops.  For example, recently, I let a couple of groups know that there were a few spaces available on the photo shoot workshop that I was running in Swindon.  This workshop was aimed at small business owners who needed photos taken of people in an office environment.  By sharing the workshop with a couple of groups, I had people recommend it to others and people travelled several hours to attend.

Twitter – I have had enquiries through Twitter which I would then follow up with a phone call to win the business.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

I have several tips;

  • Keep your Social Media up to date and keep using them even if you don’t immediately get a response!
  • Retweet regularly on Twitter
  • Don’t belong to a LinkedIn group unless you are going to get involved.
  • On LinkedIn, put what you do in your headline.
  • Get into a routine.  I spend 10 minutes on Twitter every morning.  I write an original update, I retweet several and I have one conversation.

Contact Information

You can contact Charlotte on LinkedIn, Twitter – Writing for Work, Twitter – Quick Learn Facebook , Quick Learn

Online training or face to face training


As regular readers of this blog might know, I love training in all its forms.  I am never happier than when teaching or training people in how to use Social Media to market their business or to use Microsoft Office to work more effectively.  Should you choose online training or face to face training though?

Classroom TrainingTraditionally training is considered to be a ‘classroom activity’.  Indeed, I run workshops here in Oxfordshire in which I gather 5 people together in a room and talk to them about Social Media best practice and actually get them to set up profiles, think about their audience and talk about what they are going to say.  Similarly I will happily travel to a client site to deliver bespoke versions of the courses.  Learners leave having used the tools, set up profiles and with a better understanding of best practice of the use of Social Media (or MS Office).  I offer support via email or learners can sign up to a more detailed support package.  Everybody is happy…….

I offer a similar service on a 1 – 1 basis over Skype.  Learners share their screen with me and we talk through how and why a particular tool is used or what happens when buttons are clicked.  Individual learning, without the travel.  Again, everybody is happy……

On line TrainingSometimes, though it is worth considering whether your time would be spent better using an on line course to learn.  On line courses have changed significantly from the old days of ‘CBT’ – courses are now interactive, fun to complete and multi-media.  You can dip in and out of a course in your own time, so do not have to be away for the office or pay travel expenses.  An on line course will often contain more detail than can be covered in the face to face equivalent – and you can listen to audio or watch videos multiple times to make sure you understand it.  On line courses should contain an element of doing – exercises in some form to check your learning. Many on line courses (including ours) will offer support in some form (forum, email, etc.) so you are not isolated from other learners but can still participate in discussions and learn from others.  On line courses can often be a more cost effective option and you will learn just as much if not more.

Learners who have bought our on line courses have learnt in their own time – at their own pace (often at the weekend), set up their profiles and got going with Social Media without time out of the office or the cost of travel.  They also have access to the course for 12 months – so they will be able to see how changes in the Social Media tools are going to effect their use without need for further time or cost commitment (courses are updated in June and December).  An exclusive forum is available for questions and support requests.  All this for about the same price as a workshop.  Everybody is happy….

So next time you are looking for training, consider all your options and don’t just assume that a face to face workshop is the best.

What do you think of the advantages / disadvantages of each?


Interview with Craig Gordon


The fourth of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Craig Gordon from

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a publisher at  This is a subscription-based online HR and employment law compliance and benchmarking resource.  We explain and advise on employment law and HR issues for all businesses sizes but particularly aimed at SMEs.

Craig Gordon

How do you use Social Media?

I use Twitter as a conversational and brand building tool.  I started off using Twitter on a very small and not very focused basis, now I have nearly 2,000 followers and really enjoy using it.  I can engage with people in my industry area and have conversations with them.  I provide snippets of HR and employment law information and occasional links to interesting websites – and to our website.  I share news from to build the brand and the credibility of the brand.  I find Twitter more informal than other tools and I like the discipline of trying to say something in 140 characters.  If you can’t say something in 140 characters, is it worth saying?

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

Last year, a well-respected employment lawyer did a poll among Twitter users of top employment law tweeters.  We came 12th so as a brand building exercise it is working.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Enjoy the conversation.  Retweet as much as possible.  If you see somebody has tweeted an interesting link, retweet them, don’t go and find the link and make it look like you have found it first.  If you retweet somebody, they will probably become a follower.  Be honest.

Contact Information

You can contact Craig on LinkedIn, Twitter, HRBullets

Use of Social Media by consumer businesses


I was on holiday in Amsterdam last week.  Had a great family holiday in a beautiful city – though it was a bit cold!  Whilst there, it was interesting to see how businesses were reaching out to me as a consumer, through the use of Social Media.

QR Codes

Many of the shops had QR codes in their windows to take me to their online shop when they were closed.  This is easy to do – the only cost being the sticker for the window.  In the example given in the image – the QR code takes the visitor to a different website than the normal experience – other QR codes I saw took the visitor to the standard shop.  What a great way of capturing interest from people passing.Amsterdam QR Code

Another interesting use of QR Codes was in the Amsterdam museum.  The QR code was on the free guidebook given out at the entrance.  The QR code was used to start some of the interactive displays in the museum.  At one of the exhibits, visitors were encouraged to take a photo of themselves standing behind some armour.  The photos were automatically displayed on the Amsterdam museum flickr stream.  It felt like they could have made more use of the QR code to capture visitor information, but some interesting ideas.


Not surprisingly, Facebook was used in a number of ways.  The Amsterdam museum had a exhibit about Johan Cruijff.  By logging into Facebook, you could take a photo of yourself with the great footballer!  The Heineken Experience had a number of interactive displays, quizzes, etc which could be accessed through Facebook – thereby telling all your friends that you were enjoying the attraction.

One of the best uses of Facebook that I saw was in a restaurant.  Rather than the usual dodgy ads in the toilets, there was an invitation to enter a competition to win a meal for 2 by liking their Facebook page.  This was an ideal time to talk to a captive audience! They even included their WiFi code with password.

Have you seen any interesting examples of businesses reaching how to you as a consumer?  I would love to hear about them.

Interview with Joy McCarthy


The third of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Joy McCarthy from Word-right

Who are you and what do you do?

Word-right are based in Oxfordshire and offer Search Engine Optimisation and copyright services to businesses of all sizes.

Joy McCarthy

How do you use Social Media?

I have used Twitter extensively during the past few years to continue local networking and talk to people I know.  I participate in a number of Facebook groups set up related to local networking.  I have started to use Google+ and can see the Search Engine Optimisation benefits through the use of Google Authorship.  I use LinkedIn groups – particularly groups where my audience can be found.  I have started to use Pinterest, but have yet to see a real benefit for my business.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I have had substantial amounts of business through Social Media.  We have received work through Twitter mainly from introductions. When we first started using Twitter, we engaged with people who have since become our influencers and refer us to a number of clients.  I also find Twitter useful to reinforce relationships built through local networking.  Facebook groups has been another successful way of being referred.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

My top tip is to be personal.  You have to communicate – listen as well as speak.  I was dragged, kicking and screaming to Twitter – it took a month before it clicked, but now I can’t imagine life without Twitter!

Contact Information

You can contact Joy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, WORD-right

Interview with Jody Fletcher


The second of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Jody Fletcher also known as chillijody from Chilli Promotions.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a supplier of branded marketing merchandise and corporate gifts.  This includes things for conferences and events, direct marketing and other marketing collateral including usb sticks, pens etc.

Jody Fletcher

How do you use Social Media?

I use Social Media to keep in touch with people as a ‘soft contact’. I do quite a bit of face to face networking and when I meet somebody I follow them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest as a way of keeping in contact. I have also found Social Media helpful in developing brand awareness. People have heard of the brand and know me through our conversations on Social Media even though they may not have met me or even spoken to me. I have turned up to networking events where people have greeted me as ‘chillijody’!

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

I have had numerous referrals and orders from Social Media. Twitter in particular has proved to be successful though I have had success with my Facebook page as well.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

My top tip is to be authentic and consistent. Don’t schedule a load of tweets and then wait a week before you look at the results – if you are going to engage on Twitter or any of the tools, try to be regular so people can have a conversation with you and get to know you. They will then want to help you and your business.

Contact Information

You can contact Jody on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Chilli Promotional Products

Get going with Blogs


Writing a blog is an important part of any Social Media strategy and in particular a content marketing strategy. Some ideas to get going with blogs…..

What is a blog?
A blog is a personal commentary, opinion or helpful piece of text.  Blogs can be a personalBlog diary but if you are writing a blog for business, you should always consider the ‘so what’.  How is your blog adding value to others?  A blog can be a great way of showing the personality of the business – the Marriott blog does exactly this – showing the life of the founder of the hotel business as he travels the world.

Why blog?
A great way of showing your credibility and knowledge by creating original content, a blog can reach out to a wider audience than your customers.  You can help your search engine optimisation by using keywords.  A blog will increase visitors to a website and ultimately add to your bottom line.

How do you start a blog?
You can start a blog for free at or Blogger or Tumblr.  Using the free versions of and Blogger are a great way to get started, but the visitor analytics tools are limited, you may get ads displayed on your blog and you are not in control – you could be closed down for no apparent reason.  Tumblr has a strong community of bloggers particularly amongst the younger age group.  Blogs on Tumblr tend to be shorter and more image based.  There is no ability to comment on Tumblr blogs, but your blog can be reposted.

Using one of these tools is a good way to get going with blogs, but I would always recommend that ultimately a business either buy a domain name if using or host the blog on the business website.  Buying the domain name is a good alternative if you don’t have a website.  If you host the blog on your website, you will be increasing visitors to your site and keep them on your site.  You will also benefit from the fact that search engines like websites that change frequently – updating your blog will be a change to the website.

When should I write a blog?
ClockIf you are going to start a blog, you should aim to update it regularly. Twice a week is ideal, but more realistically aim for once a week. This isn’t so hard if you write down a number of subjects you can blog about and set aside an hour a week at the same time, to write it.

What should I blog about?
The best way to come up with subject areas is to write down any questions that you are asked about your business, products or services by anybody you meet while networking, talking to customers, or answering the phone.

Include original, copyright free or paid images in your blog.  This will break up the text and make it easier to read.

Finally, make sure you think about keywords when you are writing the blog.  What words would somebody type into a search engine to find the article you are writing about? Include these words in the title of your blog as well as a couple of times in your content.

Time to get going with your blog
So time to get going.  It often is a case of jumping in there and getting started and making writing a blog part of your weekly life.  Let me know if you need any help deciding which blog software to use, setting your blog up or finding inspiration!

Over to you
So what is holding you back from writing a blog or what success have you found from your blog?  Do let me know.

Interview – Dave Griffin


I am often asked for real life success stories of how other businesses are using Social Media.  Clearly, I can offer my own stories – but I may come across as somewhat biased!  So, I have decided to start a series of blog entries in which I interview other small business owners to see how they use Social Media, what their success stories are and ask them to share their top tip.  I plan to publish an interview every Friday.

I’m thankful to Dave Griffin from The Social Media Café / Dave Griffin Consultancy Ltd / Griffin Property Business for being my guinea pig on this venture!

Dave Griffin - Interview

Who are you and what do you do?

I was in the RAF for 18 years and then did some Business Coaching and Property development. In the recent past I have suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome but still work with businesses in the roles of Business coach and Social Media mentor and coach.  I am also a guest lecturer in Social Media at Oxford University.

How do you use Social Media?

I use Social Media from a practical viewpoint.  I believe it all comes down to the online identity of a business or individual.  The business or individual needs to be found.  I know that offline marketing is still important, but with the right online profiles you can get the most exposure.  LinkedIn and Facebook are my two favourite tools.  I have had great results with LinkedIn.  It is so important to be found by people on LinkedIn – anybody can get found if they optimize their profile.

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

Yes, of course.  An agency working for Facebook looked for business coaches on LinkedIn.  They found my profile and could see that I had 70+ recommendations.  They already liked me before even contacting me.  As a result I did some work with the Facebook UK management team.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

My top tip would be to focus on your LinkedIn headline.  This is prime real estate for getting your profile found.  Your headline needs to say ‘what you do’ not ‘who you are’.  Include the words people are searching for.

Contact Information

You can contact Dave on LinkedIn, Twitter, The Social Media Café

During the next few weeks, I hope to interview Lucinda Hart, Jody Fletcher, Kath Bonner Durham and a few others I haven’t asked yet!  Let me know if you would be interested in featuring.

Using Facebook Offers


I thought this week I would share my experience of running a Facebook offer.  Facebook offers are a fairly new type of status update for Business Pages with over 100 fans.

You first need to set up an advertising account with Facebook by creating an ad using Adverts Manager – be aware you will need to switch back to yourself before doing this as only real people can actually have a credit card!  Choose Offer and follow the tips given below and enter your credit card details.

Offer Status Update

If you already have an advertising account, you should see the option to create a status update of type offer.


1. Click offer and you will need to choose what type of offer you want to display.  You can choose an offer redeemable in store, online or both.  I have recently implemented e-commerce on my website so can now create discount codes.

2. Next you need to enter the web address relevant to the discount and the discount code,

3. Upload an image that should be used for the discount.  This shouldn’t be your logo as your logo will be displayed as well.
(Note: I fell foul of the recent change in rules with my first attempt.  If the image contains text, the text must not take up more than 20% of the area of the image (unless it is clearly part of the product packaging).  Out of interest, this has just changed for cover photos too – another post to come!)
You also need to enter the text for the offer.  Facebook recommends that the discount or ‘2 for 1’ offer comes first.  You only have 90 characters for this.
Enter the number available together with any terms and conditions and the expiry date.

4. Once you have done this, Facebook will email you a preview of the offer.

5. Now you need to choose your budget.  For £32, I was able to run an advert with an estimated reach of 36K – 67K

Facebook offer March 13

So what results can you expect?

I started my advert running Tuesday morning, it is now Wednesday night.

So far, 4,340 people have seen the post, One person has bought a different course – but interacted as a result of the offer.  I have received 4 new page likes (2 from people I don’t know), 4 likes on the offer (2 different people I don’t know) and 15 people have claimed the offer.  This means that they have received an email from Facebook with the link and offer code.  They will also get a reminder from Facebook on Thursday that the offer will expire soon so needs to be redeemed.

Strangely the other 14 people haven’t yet bought.  Could this mean that the offer was emailed to their spam folder, they haven’t had a chance to buy or they have had second thoughts?  Who knows?

So has it been worth it?

Well the offer is running until Friday, so there is still time to get those sales.  I think it has been worth it – selling the 1 course has paid for the investment and I have got the brand and the concept in front of people.  If I sell any of the courses that have been claimed, it will definitely have been worth it.  Hopefully the people that have engaged with the offer or page will engage next time they see an update from the page. I have certainly seen an increase in the number of people who have seen subsequent posts, so it has improved my ‘Edgerank’.

I wouldn’t repeat regularly at the moment – but I can see an offer working every 3 – 6 months.

What do you think?  Have you tried offers or are you going to?  Do have a look at my offer on the Concise Training Facebook page

Update 1/4/13 – Just to let you know the final figures.  7,983 people saw the post, 5 likes, 34 claimed the offer (though nobody made a purchase).  The numbers of people who saw subsequent posts has doubled, so it has made a difference to the Edgerank algorithm.  I achieved an additional 6 likes to the page.  I have sold other courses during this time frame.  So in summary, I think it is worth repeating every few months with different courses and offers.

Twitter chat


Twitter Chat

Have you taken part in a Tweet chat yet?  I haven’t had a chance to get involved in one for a few months.  Since I enjoyed them when I was involved before, I was delighted when I heard about #oxhour which takes place on a Wednesday evening from 8pm to 9pm.  It was started by Joy and David McCarthy @wordright and @webright – Banbury based website design / copywriters.

So what happens in a twitter chat?  Basically a whole heap of people come together for a chat which all happens around a particular hashtag – in this case #oxhour.  Chats work best when the moderators suggest topics to discuss.  I joined part way through, but the topics I saw were “Do we use Social Media too much” and “Anyone able to value business gained through Twitter” – both valid discussions.

The speed of conversation on a Twitter chat is rapid and you do have to be on your game to keep track with what is going on.  It also works best when people don’t just talk about their services and try to sell – but like anything on Social Media, ask questions, add value and if possible keep on topic.

You can follow the hashtag using or any of your normal Social Media tweetchatmanagement tools (HootSuite, Tweetdeck, SproutSocial, etc). However I always use, a free tool which allows you to follow a hashtag and automatically adds the hashtag to all your tweets.  Makes it slightly easier to follow and there is less typing required!  Tweetchat also allows you to change the font of the tweets so you can see more on a screen, change the refresh rate and pause when it really gets out of control.

I really enjoyed the #oxhour tonight – met some fantastic, interesting business owners who I probably would never meet under usual circumstances.  I have followed everybody I can and look forward to listening and learning from them in the future.

If you get a chance, do give a chat on Twitter a go – it is well worth the time.  Can you share your experiences?


6 Tips for a sales team to use LinkedIn


LinkedIn online courseHave you noticed an increase in requests and messages from people who are selling on LinkedIn?  The message seems to have got out that LinkedIn in a great sales tool.  Yes it is  – but not in the traditional sense.

Some tips for a sales team to use LInkedIn to make your selling more effective (to me at least):

1. Complete your LinkedIn profile with a professional photo and enough information about yourself so I can tell how you can help me.

2. Include a personal invite when you invite people to connect to you.  Don’t just click the Connect button – tell me why I should connect with you or remind me where I have met you.  At the very least look at my profile first!

3. Build a relationship with me by liking, commenting or sharing my updates.  Make me notice who you are.Relationship

4. Belong to the same groups as me and participate in group discussions.  Don’t use the group discussions to sell to me but to offer your opinion and perhaps solve my questions.

5. Generally give me information that I might find useful in your updates.  Then when you do share an update that is a sales message, I might take notice.

6. Resist the impulse to message all of your contacts at the same time with a sales message.  Think about who is likely to want to hear your message.  For example, it is unlikely that I want my inbox cluttered up with news about a competitor’s Social Media workshop!  Use LinkedIn’s tools to tag and sort your connections.

What do you think?  I’m sure you will have suggestions to add to the list.  Please share.

Ofcourse if you want some help improving your use of LinkedIn, have a look at my LinkedIn online course.

Have you noticed Pinterest has changed?


Have you noticed that Pinterest has changed recently?

Recent changes include:

    • A new list of categories for the search on the left hand side of the home screen to make it easier to find content.
    • When you look at a pin, you see a list of other pins on that board to encourage you to look around the whole board.Pinterest Business Books Board
    • You will also see related pins
    • Pins are larger


Is Pinterest for you?

Well ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have images relating to your product or service that you can share?
    For example, I have pinned the cover of my book onto a Business Books board and the images relating to my e-learning products on to another board.
  • Do you have images about something related to but slightly outside your immediate business products or services that your audience might find interesting?
    For example I have a board devoted to border terriers – my own border terrier who appears in a variety of my training courses is one of the featured dogs!
  • Are these images available on your website somewhere?
    Although you can upload photos directly into Pinterest, it is a good idea to have them linked back to your website or blog – you want people to click through to find out more.

If you are saying ‘yes’ to these questions, you need to explore further.

You start by creating” boards” – think in terms of a old fashioned cork board and ‘pin’ (fix) Border Terriers Pinterest boardimages to the relevant board. Then look for related images from others that you can also pin to these boards and if necessary other boards.  For example the Border terriers board also contains pictures of other border terriers.  I have a board called Infographics to which I pin any Infographic that I find interesting and might be interesting to others.

You should also follow other people and like and comment on other people’s pins and boards.  Like with any Social Media the more time you spend liking and commenting, the more you will get people to like and comment your own boards.

By the way, my Business Books to Read board has been shared with networking colleagues – anybody can pin a book to this board.

One of the tools, I have found particularly useful is the Pin it bookmarklet which is a button you can add to your browser.  If I find an interesting image when I’m researching, I can just click the Pin It button on my browser to pin the image to one of my boards.

What do you think?  Are you going to get pinning?

5 reasons to use Google+


Reasons to use Google+

I’ve been updating the latest version of our on line Google+ course this week.

I haven’t looked in detail at Google+ for a couple of months and I’m impressed with the changes – the functionality seems to be developing well and coming together.  This is one site that I for one, need to spend more time on, as there seem to be some great new changes in the pipeline.  (I’ll need to schedule in more updates to the on line course!)

But isn’t it just another social networking site that we all need to get our heads round?  Well yes, but it is also more than that:

1. When Google indexes your website for search, it takes a view on how the website / brand is viewed by others.  One of the ways it does this at the moment is by looking at the quality of inbound links to the website.  Using Google+, the number of +1s (Google’s equivalent of like) on your page and posts will instantly tell Google what others think of your brand.

2. if you sign up for Gmail, YouTube or other Google services, Google will automatically create a Google+ profile for you.  Yes this is intrusive and you will need to check your security settings, but it is just one more way that Google+ is being integrated into all the other Google services.

3. If you are a local business, then having a Google+ page allows customers toTulleys Farm - Google Reviews write reviews on your business.  The number of reviews you get are displayed prominently in Google search results and clicking on the reviews will take visitors to the business’ Google+ page to see photos and more information. There is even a possibility of having a 360 degree photo of the inside of your business created!

4. Google Authorship allows your picture to be displayed in search results next to any content you have written on the web. It is more likely that people will click on a results with a picture than those with not.
Mail chimp - social proof

5. Google+ is made by Google and Google are spending time and money on it adding new features all the time and further integrating into search.

So 5 reasons for you and I haven’t mentioned Google hangouts, targeting updates or Google Events…..

What do you think?  Are you going to take another look? Or perhaps you need help or training…..

Using QR Codes for marketing


Using QR Codes for marketing

I’ve been doing some research this week on the use of QR codes in marketing.  I’ve been aware of QR codes for a while as a marketing device for print material but there are some really creative ways of using QR codes being developed at the moment.

QR codes are those 2D bar codes that can hold a variety of information including any of:

  • Website URLConcise Training QR Code
  • YouTube video
  • Google Map location
  • Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook
  • link to App Store or iTunes
  • Text
  • Telephone number or Skype call
  • SMS message
  • Email address or Email message
  • Contact details
  • Wifi login
  • Paypal buy now

You read a QR code using an internet enabled phone with camera and QR code reader app (e.g. BeeTag).

I firmly believe that these days if you are producing printed material, brochure, leaflet, etc, you should seriously consider producing a QR code to offer more information, email interest, enter a competition etc.  Not everybody knows how to use them at the moment, but I think this year they will become more main stream.

For example, I have included a QR code in the latest edition of my book, Social Media Made Simple, to encourage people to enter a draw for a free Skype session with me in return for an email address.

This week, I have discovered some exciting creative uses of QR codes including:

  • A sandwich shop allows customers to order and pay for food using QR codes to avoid queues.
  • A resturant has QR codes in the menu.  Scanning the QR codes shows a video of the dish being prepared or a picture of the dish.
  • A fast food restaurant is using QR codes on their packaging to inform customers what is in their food.
  • A company in Brazil has included QR codes on their special bottles for father’s day. When dad scans in the QR code they get a personalised video message
  • A restaurant selling sushi includes edible QR codes on their food to allow people to get more information about the fish they are eating.
  • Special panels have been installed at First World War memorials enabling the public to learn about the history of the service personnel who lost their lives.
  • Teachers use QR codes in the classroom to add interest to quizs, research or learning.

QR codes are really easy (and free) to create.  Use QRStuff to create your QR code next time you print any marketing material.  Do create them for a purpose though and think about how they are going to be used.  Make sure you add value and link to a specific page or message rather than just directing people to your home page.  Other things to avoid:

  • including QR codes in websites or emails – the recipient is already on a computer – why would they want to use a Smartphone as well?
  • using QR codes as an Individual LinkedIn (or other Social Media) profile picture!
  • using QR codes somewhere with no internet access e.g. on a plane or in the parts of the underground without wifi
  • displaying QR codes in places impossible to scan (either very high or on a lorry moving very fast)

So what do you think?  Where have you seen QR codes being used successfully?  How are you going to use QR codes in the future?

Benefit of Content Marketing


One of the things I often find myself explaining to business owners and marketing managers is the difference (in my opinion) between content marketing and relationship marketing.  I believe it is important to understand which type of marketing the business wants to concentrate on and therefore which Social Media tools are most appropriate for the business to use.  In this blog post, I will discuss the benefit of content marketing in more detail – and give you some insight into how I see content marketing working in my business.


Content marketing should be used when a business can create a variety of added value material on a regular basis.  Content should add such a large amount of value that visitors want to sign up for more information and talk about the content.

To give you an example, I have written blog entries for a while but have been particularly concentrating on the distribution of them since Christmas.  As a result of writing regular, useful blog entries and using Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn) to distribute them, my website hits have increased 50% over the month and I have a decent increase in newsletter subscribers.  I also had the content on my website recommended to others in a recent networking group I attended!

Once people have found me via the blog, they can take advantage of other free content available including my newsletter and video channel. I aim to produce presentations and infographics during the next few months to extend the type and variety of content available.

It is all very well, you may say, giving content away for free – but we are in business to make money.  I have a number of offerings when people are ready to find out more.  At the first pricing level, my Social Media Simple book will give you more advice and value.  For a small monthly fee, you can join my exclusive Social Media Professionals group – to gain access to monthly updates of all the tools as well as a webinar every other month (contact me to find out more).  As visitors have a greater need and want to know more, training courses are available in the form of workshops, bespoke or distance learning training courses.  At the highest level of content, the ITQ Social Media qualification is still proving popular.

By giving valuable content away initially, I can encourage visitors to engage with me further down the value chain at the pricing level they feel comfortable with.

Next week, I will discuss the importance of relationship marketing and how both content and relationship marketing can be used together.  In the meantime, let me know how you implement content marketing in your business.