GDPR – Changes Concise Training has made

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With the changes coming into effect about your privacy, Concise Training have implemented some GDPR changes.

So today is the day – I wonder if the world will fall in tomorrow?  Hopefully, we will get fewer emails from companies we have apparently signed up to receive emails from – and in particular, we will stop receiving emails asking us to opt-in – particularly from companies we never signed up to.

You may be wondering why you haven’t received any of these emails from Concise Training.  We have taken a rather pragmatic approach to GDPR based on what we have been doing up to now.

The majority of people on our newsletter list have already given consent to receive newsletters on our website.  Either because:

  • They have signed up from our website which has used a double opt-in consent process over the past 9 years.  This means that not only have they signed up on the website but they have also received a confirmation email that they have needed to click.  This is also what we will do going forward for anybody who signs up.
  • They have attended a presentation or workshop, filled in a feedback form and ticked a box to receive our newsletter.  I still have all these forms in my office – which will now be safely locked away.
  • They have bought a product or service from our website and are therefore under contract with me so I can continue to send them information.

We did have a few email addresses that were put onto the newsletter because they enquired about one of our courses.  These will be deleted from the newsletter list – but information will still be sent to them about the course they enquired about (under legitimate business interest).

We are making changes to the check out process and newsletter sign up process to make the newsletter sign up more explicit so in the future, if you purchase something from the website you will need to decide to sign up to the newsletter by ticking a box.

The other type of emails you will have been getting over the last week are links to privacy policy changes.  We have changed our privacy policy which you can read here but we have decided not to email everybody about it at the moment as the changes aren’t that great.  You will see the link to the privacy policy appearing in our email signature and it will be more prominent on our website and in future emails.

However….. big announcement coming….. We are waiting until June to make some of these changes (that is OK – we need to be working towards GDPR compliance rather than be completely compliant by today) as we are completely rewriting our Concise Training website – it just doesn’t make business sense to make major changes to the current website.

Alongside this, of course, we have been auditing our data, clearing up our systems and ensuring any personal data we do collect is kept securely and in one place so we can report on it if required and delete if asked it (unless we need to keep it to satisfy regulators).

It would be great to hear your thoughts on how you have seen GDPR implemented.

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How to compose text only posts on Instagram

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You can now create text only posts on Instagram.

You can now share text only posts on your Instagram Story. They are easy to compose and you can choose different fonts and also use a nice coloured background to make them stand out to your followers. 

To get started you simply do the following:

  1. Click on the top of your Home feed to start your story

It's simple to create text only posts on Instagram.

  1. Slide to the bottom left ‘Type’ option

You can create text only posts on Instagram by following our step by step guide.

  1. Choose the font at the top (just click the label to switch between them):

To create text only posts on Instagram you select 'type' option in your story.

  • Modern – fully justified, will adjust to fit the whole width of the text line
  • Neon – fully justified, will adjust to fit the whole width of the text line
  • Typewriter— defaults to left justified but can be changed
  • Strong – fully justified, will adjust to fit the whole width of the text line
  1. At this stage, you have various options available for you to customise your text.

When creating text only posts you have various options available for you to customise your post.

  1. Once you have entered the text and background colour, choose the > at the bottom to convert it to a story. Once you are at the next stage you can change the colour of your text and add additional text if you wish.

Once you are happy with your text only posts you can post it to your Instagram Story.

Do let us know in the comments below how you are getting along with Instagram Stories and if you will be using this new text only posts feature.

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Train the Trainer: By the end of the session you will be able to…

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Our latest train the trainer blog post looks at using your training skills to preparing training sessions.

Do you scratch your head as you face a blank document having been tasked to create a training session for staff? Do you think ‘what do I need to think about first’?

As you read this blog post what would you like to know by the time you finish reading?

Adjust this question a little and apply to a training situation. Put yourself in the learners’ shoes and ask ‘what would I like to know or be able to do by the end of the training session’.

What will you be able to do by the end of the training session? Our third train the trainer blog helps you develop your training skills.Of course, each learner and the manager might have a different answer.  If it is possible I suggest asking the potential trainees and the manager beforehand as this helps you design the training session.

Bob’s been asked to deliver a 2-hour manual handling session.  In this short time, his aim is for each to understand the structure and function of the spine and identify the risk factors for injury when manually moving loads/objects.

Tip for setting the aim

The aim should be written so that it can easily be incorporated into a description for the advertised or promoted event. Anyone reading the description should immediately get the idea of what the training is all about.

If you find it difficult to start with the aim then start with the objectives – these are what the trainees will be able to do or know by end of the session and the level of confidence they will be able to take away from the session. They always should be trainee oriented.

The objectives are the statements that a trainer shares with the trainees before and at the start of the session so they all know what they’re going to achieve.  The trainer designs the session activities to make sure each person has enough time and practice to achieve all the objectives with some confidence.

Bob has 12 trainees and only 2 hours to deliver the training so he’s going to make sure the objectives are manageable and achievable.

In my third train the trainer blog we look at how you go about using your training skills to set up a training session.By the end of Bob’s session each trainee will be able to:

  • Identify the main areas of the spine that injury is most likely to occur.
  • Describe how efficient movement can reduce the risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system
  • Demonstrate efficient movement principles for manually moving loads/objects by:
  • Lifting objects from the floor onto platform/table at waist height
  • Moving an object from platform to table at waist height to the floor (lower to the floor)
  • Carrying a load over a distance of 5 metres, negotiating a 90-degree turn

Bob knows that by the end of the session he will have seen everyone complete a handout having added annotation about the spine and injury sites. He will have observed them all using correct lifting methods within the 3 types of movements. He will have asked everyone to describe an efficient movement principle.

Tip for setting objectives

Use action verbs to start each objective. Good action verbs are ‘describe’, list, demonstrate, discuss, annotate, play, summarise, make, construct etc

Try to avoid using ‘understand’ or ‘know’ in objectives, as these statements will be difficult for a trainer to confirm full achievement.  The trainer would have to set an exam or test to fully test someone’s knowledge about a subject. A trainer will be able to check that if a trainee has carried out a task with competence they will have indicated a level of understanding of the topic.

Finally

If you have a fantastic activity in mind that will really help the trainees to learn, of course start designing your session around that activity but most trainers should start with setting an aim for the session and then writing the objectives or statement bearing in mind that very useful phrase ‘by the end of the session you will be able to…”

So by the end of this blog post, you have picked up 2 tips that you can take away and confidently form your own aims and objectives.

Train the Trainer Qualification

Why not bring your training skills up to date and achieve the City & Guilds Introduction to Trainer Skills 7300 certificate?  The 2-day Train the Trainer course takes you through the Training Cycle model showing you how to structure training sessions to meet the needs of those who are attending.

Find out more about the Train the Trainer course or contact us to talk about your training needs.

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Twitter – Updates April 2018

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In our latest blog we look at the newest updates on Twitter inc changes to the API and Twitter Bookmarks.

Since our last Twitter updates post back in February, there have been a few changes rolled out that are definitely worth sharing. Read on to discover how Twitter has ruled out duplicate Tweeting as well as giving more time to third-party apps that were on the verge of being redundant.

Bookmarks

Twitter is rolling out to Andriod, iOS and the mobile website a way of saving Tweets you want to revisit without having to like’ them. 

A recent Twitter update has been bookmarks, which allows the ability to save / bookmark a tweet.

Clicking this allows you to Add the Tweet to Bookmarks

With the bookmark update you are given the option of bookmarking the tweet or sending as a direct message.

Bookmarks can be viewed by swiping right to show the left-hand menu. Note, Tweets you have bookmarked are private.

Duplicate Tweeting

In March Twitter brought changes into effect that banned developers from using systems that simultaneously post ‘identical or substantially similar’ Tweets from multiple Twitter accounts at the same time. 

Twitter has brought these changes in as “an important step in ensuring we stay ahead of malicious activity targeting the crucial conversations taking place on Twitter — including elections in the United States and around the world.”

Timestamps

Timestamps allow people to share the exact moment of a live video that they want viewers to watch rather than having to share the time code. This is being rolled out on iOS and Android

Third Party Apps

Twitter has announced that it will delay its previously announced plan to pull support for third-party apps such as Tweetbot, Twitterrific, Talon etc.

These apps require information from a set of functions (APIs) called Site Streams and User Streams for the application to work

In December 2017 Twitter announced that they would replace their current API with an Account Activity API on the 19th June and thus retire Site Streams and User Streams. 

This will mean timelines in third-party apps will not be refreshing automatically and push notifications will no longer arriving. This change would effectively have rendered these apps useless. 

Twitter is giving developers more time to migrate to Twitter’s new API but hasn’t specified a timeline. Source

What do you think of these recent changes? Do let us know in the comments below.

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Instagram Introduces Shoppable Posts

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Instagram has started to roll out its shoppable posts feature in the UK.

Shoppable posts have launched on Instagram in the UK, which allows brands to tag up to 5 products in organic posts. The feature launched in the US in late 2017 and is now being rolled out to businesses in the UK. 

On an account profile, shoppable posts are distinguished via a small shopping bag icon displayed on the top right corner of the image. 

Shoppable posts are distinguished by the white shopping basket.

When you select a post or scroll through your Instagram page you will see a Tap to View Products’ message or a shopping bag icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the post. 

Once you click on shoppable posts you will see a 'tap to view products' message.

When you tap on the image, the name, the price of the product or products listed in the post is displayed. If you tap on the item details you will be shown further information about the product such as details about the product, similar items and other shoppable posts from the brand. 

When you click on a shoppable post you will see further details about the products in the post.

Shop Now’ link will go to the brand’s website to make a purchase.

On a shoppable post when you click on a product you will see further details.

To use shoppable posts, a business will need to connect their Instagram account with a shop on Facebook. The feature will continue rolling out over the next few months.

This is an interesting article from Marketing Week, which looks at how Asos view Instagram’s new shopping update.

Will shoppable posts be useful for your business? Do let us know how you will be using them in the comments below.

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Have you tried a Pecha Kucha? What is that I hear you ask?

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Two tips from Di about delivering Pecha Kucha.

Tip number 1

My first tip is to say how I was challenged as a trainer to deliver a Pecha Kucha to an audience of 250 people. This is a slideshow containing 20 slides only with a transition of 20 seconds for each slide so the entire presentation is 6 minutes 40 seconds long.

You might think this is quite a challenge.

You have to choose the topic carefully and plan the specific message you want to get over for each 20-second slide. Each of the 20 slides should contain a graphic, ideally taking the full size of the slide.  Some trainers might also include a few words on the slide either as an overlay or use the title box on the slide.

The set transition of 20 seconds per slide means you have to have a good idea of what to say so that the slides seamlessly flow from one to another as if in a story. You could use a script but better still if you rehearse and remember what you want to say without notes.

In 2003, architects in Japan initiated the idea of Pecha Kucha to encourage the creative space for a network of artists.  The concept, however, works very well in education & training allowing a trainer to deliver something fresh or new to the audience and it also encourage trainers to really focus on what information is important. Of course, the participants in a training session are more likely to concentrate and actively listen for this short period of time.

How to create a Pecha Kucha?

  • Start with a slideshow containing 20 blank slides.
  • Set the Transition or Animation to advance all slides at 20 seconds.
  • Select a topic that is feasible to explain in less than 7 minutes
  • Outline what the important point to make per slide. What do you want to say? Try to keep to 3 sentences per slide.
  • Find suitable photos or graphics that relate to what you are saying. Try Pixabay, Pexels or Flickr for inspiration.
  • A script or speech notes can be helpful but rehearsal is obviously needed. Don’t speak so fast just to be able to say more!

Examples

1.

2.

‘Creative Vision, Creative Voice’

Tip Number 2

My second tip is to consider Pecha Kucha alternatives.

An ‘Ignite’ is the use of 20 slides with each slide advancing automatically after 15 seconds so this forces the trainer to deliver even more succinctly and concisely.

Another variation is a 7-14-28, which looks at the 7-minute time limit for the presentation with no more than 14 slides using a minimum of 28-point font size for any text.

It is worthwhile for a trainer to try different ways to convey information to the participants of a training session.

Train the Trainer

Why not bring your training skills up to date and achieve the City & Guilds Introduction to Trainer Skills 7300 certificate?  The 2 day Train the Trainer course takes you through the Training Cycle model showing you how to structure training sessions to meet the needs of those who are attending.

Find out more about the Train the Trainer course or contact us to talk about your training needs.

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8 tips to make your content bloom

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Do you struggle to keep your social media content fresh? Our blog contains 8 useful tips to help you.

Are you juggling several social media channels?

Not sure what to post and when or where to find content?

Here are some tips to help your content bloom and grow your social media presence.

Know your audience

It is very important to know your target audience and post content that is useful and appealing to them. Know who you are marketing to and adjust your company’s voice to speak to them. Make sure you are using the right channels for your business, this blog may help if you are unsure. You don’t need to be on every channel – concentrate your efforts on the channels that your target audience use.

Know when and how often to post

Aim to post once a day on FacebookAccording to HubSpot, you get 32% more engagement when posting on Saturday and Sunday, and 18% more engagement when posting on Thursday and Friday – though it will depend on when your audience is online

On Twitter, you need to tweet enough to get noticed so aim for between 3 and 5 times a day. Hubspot also recommends that if you’re a business-to-business company, tweets perform 16% better during business hours, and business-to-consumer tweets perform 17% better on weekends. 

According to the LinkedIn small business guide, if you post once a day during the week, you’ll reach at least 60% of your audience. 

For Instagram, aim for one or two posts a day and it is better to post more during off-work hours.

Engage in conversation

This may sound obvious but it is important to interact, retweet, reply and engage with your audience to spark ideas and encourage conversations. Educating people about your industry rather than selling will help you to establish credibility and act as a go-to resource.  We recommend that no more than two in every five updates are about sales and promotion and aim for 50% of your content to be your own original content – the other 50% should be shared from others to promote your brand to them.

Keep your content fresh

Our team allocates time each day scanning the internet for content to curate for clients. This process helps to keep content fresh, relevant and up to date with industry trends. 

Simple posts like quotes, quick tips or a picture can also help to add interest and variety to schedules. Even if you don’t have anything new to talk about you know that something is being posted but do make sure your content has value to your audience. 

Writing a regular blog is a fantastic resource for new and original content that will also help drive traffic to your website.

One thing to try to avoid is posting exactly the same content on every channel. Instead, use a voice (and content) that is appropriate for each channel. for example, it is unlikely that same post would work well on both Facebook and LinkedIn.

Save everything!

If there is a particular article or image that you come across that would be useful for any of your social media channels save it and add it to content schedule. Create a list of trusted influencers or places you are likely to get information to share which would be of interest to your audience.  This can be your go to’ place when sharing content.

Use Hashtags

Hashtags should make it easier for people to find relevant content and should form part of your social media strategy. Using the right hashtags on Twitter and Instagram can expose you to new followers who are interested in these topics. Here is a really useful article from Social Media Week on how to use hashtags in social media marketing effectively. There are a number of free tools to help you utilize hashtags such as Hashtagify.me and TweetDeck. One that our team has been trying out lately is Ritetag. We will let you know how we get on!

Use images

Use video and images to break up your content and add appeal. People’s brains process images faster than text and, as the saying goes,a picture paints a 1000 words.”  Images can add meaning and evoke an emotional response to messages and are an excellent method of reinforcing your brand. 

Planning tools

Content planning is essential to the success of every social media marketing campaign and, if you are managing several networks, planning tools can make the task easier and help you to be more productive. There are many apps available, the Concise team prefer ContentCal and Hootsuite. You can schedule posts in advance, view multiple channels at once, manage lists and have a visual summary of content. We reviewed ContentCal in this blog post in September last year and in this recent post.

What changes are you going to make to your content creation/curation as we move into Spring? Let us know in the comments below.

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Concise Learners – Interview with Gwen Stephen Jones

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We recently caught up with one of our former learners Gwen Stephen Jones.

Gwen, you recently completed our 12-month Diploma in Social Media qualification.  How have things changed for you since you started?

Excitingly I have my own private clients for whom I manage social media as well as starting a new company with my business partner Philippa.  I have been able to do this thanks to the knowledge and confidence gained from doing the course.

I have contributed to a couple of website builds based on the knowledge I gained from the course about website optimisation – and I seem to be getting more of this project work to optimise websites going forward.

Tell me more about your new business

Indian Experiences offers two products:

  • Marketing consultancy to the Indian travel trade. We help travel Indian businesses and hotels develop optimised websites, learn how to manage their own ongoing social media and help them to develop digital advertising campaigns.  We also help with their copywriting requirements, not only on websites but also blog posts and email newsletters.
  • We offer handpicked, smaller experiential providers in India a place to showcase what they can do. Companies will include walking tours, cooking classes, treks, river rafting and more.  We will promote these providers to the overseas travel industry (US, UK and Europe) by newsletter, social media and personal relationships.

Going forward we want to be able to showcase experiential hotels in the country too.

We are focused on presenting all that India has to offer to the travel industry outside India to change the negative connotations that have developed about India and share our passion for the country.

Can you remember why you choose our course?

Yes, I can. I spent a year in India on a project opening a new hotel.  We outsourced our social media management and copyright and I found there was a massive gap in the market.  The social media company did not have a clue what was different about experiential hotels and I had to rewrite much of the copy that was provided.  I felt that there was a gap between digital marketing and the experiential tourism market in India.

I selected the Concise Training course as I liked the fact that it was distance learning – so I could do it wherever I happened to be, but there was also built in contact with the trainers.  The webinars were live and run by people – it wasn’t all video training.  The course is all about the importance of engagement and it was essential to me that I could have direct engagement with the tutors.

So, what are your plans for 2018?

Currently, I’m home in Wales but will be returning to India soon to take part in some big travel trade events.  During the heat of the summer, I’ll be back in the UK looking to have face to face conversations with UK and Europe travel agencies to build more awareness of Indian Experiences and change the way India is thought of as a travel destination. In October, it will be back to India to build links with amazing experiential hotels and providers.

Around all this, I will continue to manage social media for my clients and build the brand of Indian Experiences across the digital space.

You can contact Gwen

Email:  media@indianexperiences.com 

Skype: gwenii72

Tel: +44 (0)7861 427 648

Website: http://www.indianexperiences.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/indianexperiences/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Indianexperien1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/indianexperiences/

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New Features added to ContentCal

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ContentCal have unveiled some new features including ContentCal analytics.

You may recall we wrote a blog post back in September about ContentCal, a new social media planning and publishing tool we had started to use.  

As a reminder, ContentCal is a time-saving tool that allows scheduling of content across each of the main social media channels.  We like the visual aspects of the tool and the easy reuse’ options and now use it in preference to the scheduling facilities of Hootsuite.  We continue to use Hootsuite for engagement and Twitter list management.

ContentCal has free and paid options depending on your need.

Already, in the first few months of 2018, the team at ContentCal have been busy adding new features and functionality to their platform to enhance the user experience.  So we decided to would be a good idea to review these sparkly new options.

Shortened Links

ContentCal has added bit.ly functionality to enable shortened links to be created in posts. To use this function, enable your bit.ly account in the manage connections part of each calendar.  We have found this to be a great time-saving addition to the platform. Simply add your URL link to your post and ContentCal will automatically shorten it to a bit.ly URL link. You can then easily monitor your click rate and engagement via your bit.ly account.

One of the new features added to ContentCal as well as ContentCal analytics is the ability to shorten links using bit.ly.

ContentCal Analytics

ContentCal Analytics launched in January and allows you to easily view your analytics on each channel you have connected to your calendar. ContentCal describes it best With ContentCal Analytics we’re now allowing our users to examine the performance of their outgoing content and learn from key metrics to improve their future posts”.

It is easy to view your top performing posts and its easy to duplicate (making appropriate tweaks to get past the new Twitter rules) and reuse them, whilst also providing valuable insight into your posts that aren’t performing well and seeing where you could make improvements.

Instagram Scheduling

Last month we wrote about Instagram opening up their API to developers so that business accounts can now schedule posts via third-party software. This update has included ContentCal. 

You can now schedule your Instagram posts to publish via ContentCal’s iOS app. Currently, you can only plan and schedule Instagram posts via the desktop app but ContentCal’s development team are aiming to roll out the ability to publish posts from a desktop out in the very near future. You can read more about this here.

Visual Changes

Another small change has been the addition of a tick’ icon to signify that your post has been successfully sent to be published and can no longer be edited.

As well as ContentCal analytics another new feature added is a small 'tick' icon to signify your post has been published.

What do you think?

Have you used ContentCal since our original blog post? What are your thoughts? Do let us know in the comments below.

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Train the Trainer Blog: Two Tips from Di

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Have you ever lost participants’ attention during a training session? Our first train the trainer blog aims to help you.

Have you ever lost participants’ attention during a training session – or do they struggle to remember key points of learning when they leave the training session?

Let’s see how you can grab their attention or help them remember what you have said.

Many years ago I read about the Von Restorff Effect and, as usual, I tried to relate the theory to my delivery as a trainer. In 1933 Hedwig von Restorff, a leading German psychologist felt that something that was isolated or different to the surrounding stood out. If information was presented in an isolated way people would remember the information that stood out.

For example, glance very quickly at the list below and see if you can recall all items. I am sure you will recall one far quicker than the others.

Have you heard of the Van Restorff Effect? Find out more in our first Train the trainer blog.

Did you recall the blue text first?

Use the same principle of isolation when you want people to remember a particular fact or piece of information. A presentation slide that shows a bulleted list should include a single item shown in a different colour, font size, bold or set aside. You might even animate the movement onto the slide.

As you describe each bulleted item when you get to the memorable item add some movement away from the podium, across the stage, move into the group or use your hands. This will help the audience remember that key fact. Of course, use the Isolation Effect with care so as not to isolate every piece of information!

Grab attention

You can take a similar approach with presentation slides to help grab attention, especially during a lengthy slideshow. Add a slide that is completely different at a point you want to jolt the audience’s attention. The image could be humorous or shocking (within reason) but does need to cover the entire slide. If, at the same time you stop talking the combined effect can be enough to make the participants look and listen more purposefully.

As a trainer, you have added something interesting to your delivery and that’s important – and memorable.

In this Train the Trainer blog I will share many ideas, tips and ideas that I have gained over the many years as a trainer. Don’t’ forget to subscribe and pick up the next post automatically.

And why not bring your training skills up to date and achieve the City & Guilds Introduction to Trainer Skills 7300 certificate? The 2 day Train the Trainer course takes you through the Training Cycle model showing you how to structure training sessions to meet the needs of those who are attending.

Find out more about the Train the Trainer course or contact us to talk about your training needs.

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Website page loading speed, your search engine rankings and what you can do to improve them

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What affects page loading speeds? Find out in our latest blog post.

Google has been using the page load speed (time it takes to load a website page so the user can see it in the browser) as one of their determinants of search engine results position for some time. 

They have also recently given more prominence to the speed of a page loading on a mobile device they have announced it will be a ranking factor (how your page ranks in mobile search results) from July 2018. 

There are a few free services that you can use to test the speed of your page loading. Google’s own Page Speed Insights breaks your results down into desktop and mobile versions of the site.

Another great service that not only gives your page a speed rating but can provide you with some guidance on how to speed up the site is GTMetrix

It is now more important than ever before to consider page load speed optimisation when creating a website if you wish it to do well in search engine results both mobile and desktop. 

In this post, we consider some of the main aspects you can optimise.  

Server Issues

Page load speed is not all about the design of the page. It is also affected by your website hosting. The old adage you get what you pay for” applies here. Broadly speaking, the more you spend on the website hosting, the faster you can expect the server to respond to an Internet browser’s request to load a website from it.  Consider:

  1. Hosting your website with a company who uses data centres based in your own country. If you are a UK based business, for example, do not host your website on a data centre in the USA, there are plenty of UK hosting companies you can use instead. The closer the server to the customer, the faster the website will load.
  2. Hosting your website (or a copy of your website) in data centres that are located in the country in which your customers are based. If 50% of your customers are in France but your business is based in England then you might want to consider paying a bit more to have multi-site hosting with a copy of your website served from a data centre in France.
  3. You can speed up the loading of a website by compressing the data that is sent from the server to the web browser. This method, more often than not, makes use of Gzip compression or something very similar. Make sure that this is enabled by your web hosting company.

Image Issues

Big beautiful images make websites look great but the bigger the image, the larger the image file and the longer it takes to load. 

  1. Optimise your images to reduce the file size. There are various online tools that will do this for you.  We like the following:

Optimizilla

ImageOptimizer

TinyPNG

These services compress your images to remove unneeded data that takes up space and creates a bigger file size.

  1. Serve Scaled Images

You also need to consider the size of images that you are displaying on your web page. If you upload an image to your website at 1200 x 600 and then display it on the website at a size of 600 x 300 when that website page is loaded, the larger image must be resized and this takes time. 

Therefore, create a copy of the image at the size you are going to display it on the website and use that so the image does not have to be resized when the page is loaded and the page will load quicker.

  1. You can also use CSS instructions to control the size of images that should be displayed when the user is viewing the site on a mobile device. Make sure copies of the images at their mobile size” are available on the server to avoid images being resized at the time of page loading.  This is an important part of making your website responsive. There is a great explanation of how this can be done here.

If you are not confident with HTML and CSS coding and you are looking to speed optimise a WordPress website then you could consider using a plugin such as Adaptive Images for WordPress

Page loading behaviour

There are many aspects to increasing the speed of page loading but two where you can make a big difference and which can be tackled fairly easily are outlined below:

  1. Modern website pages make use of more than just HTML code.  They will also use things like javascript which must be fetched from external sources before the website page will load in the browser. 

There are several things that can be done to minimise delays caused by javascript:

  • the easiest to achieve is to delay the loading of javascript that is not required to display the page until after the page is loaded. 
  • load several chunks of javascript code at the same time so that they are not loaded one after another
  • bring copies of external scripts to your server and load them from there. 

Most of these can be achieved with plugins and add-ons for your website CMS.  If you are using WordPress, have a look at:

Autoptimize for WordPress or WP Performance Score Booster

  1. Caching is the process of storing copies of images and files from your webpage in a browser’s folder so that if the page is visited again they can be loaded from there instead of having to get them from the web hosting server. 

By telling a browser how long each type of file should be stored for, you can prevent it reloading those resources unnecessarily and create a faster loading page. 

This can be done by adding a series of instructions to your .htaccess file on the server known as expires headers”. Changing the .htaccess file for your site can have drastic consequences if not done properly so you might want to get help from your web developer for this but if you are feeling brave there is a great explanation of how to add expires headers on the GTMetrix website.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

The AMP project is a Google backed project to create a standard suite of tools and design principles to ensure that fast loading mobile web pages are available for mobile web browsers. 

To improve a website’s rankings in mobile search results (when search is performed via a mobile device) one of the best things you can do is to create AMP versions of your website’s pages. 

Again, if you don’t have the technical ability to do this, there are many plugins and add-ons for popular website Content Management Systems that will do this for you.  Have a look at:

Accelerated Mobile Pages and WP Amp Ninja

Summary

If you are so inclined, you can delve deep into the technical aspects of speeding up your website at both a browser and server level it can become a bit of an obsession if you are not careful! 

It is only a single aspect of search engine optimisation and you must ask yourself whether spending hours on tiny incremental gains is worth your time and effort. The aspects that we have touched on above are those where you can have the biggest impact with the minimum of effort and technical knowledge but if you wish to learn more about site speed optimisation, why not have a look at the following?

GTMetrix Blog

How Page Speed Insights rates your site

wpmudev Blog

Do you have any tips that you would like to share with our readers? Have you noticed a difference to your search engine ranking since speeding up your site? Let us know in the comments.

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LinkedIn Groups Changing Again!

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LinkedIn Groups have changed again. Find out more in our latest post.

Cast your mind back a few years and LinkedIn was pleased to announce the introduction of standalone groups apps on IOS and Android and several changes to the way that groups were administered.

Fast forward to mid-Feb this year and the groups apps have been withdrawn and there are more changes to the administration and behaviour of groups rolling out.

LinkedIn Groups have changed again. What do you think of these new changes?

Image source www.business2community.com

Groups are coming back!

Changes are being rolled out to LinkedIn groups. They are moving back on to the home page and you will see the latest content from your groups on the homepage feed.

LinkedIn Groups are back.

Notifications

LinkedIn Groups have seen some changes that have been recently rolled out.

You will receive notifications about the latest content and engagement in your groups.

Videos

Videos can be posted into groups and discussions about the videos can be carried on in the group by replying to comments posted there. This should make it easier to follow conversations and keep them going.

Conversation can also be stimulated by mentioning people in posts made to groups and they will be notified that they have been tagged in a post.

@username

Most of the changes can be summarised by saying LinkedIn groups are now a bit more like Facebook groups than they were before.

You should see these changes start to appear in your LinkedIn profile over the coming months. Let us know what you think.

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Facebook – New Charity Updates Launched

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Facebook has unveiled some new charity updates to help any charities using its platform.

Facebook has unveiled changes concerning charities using its platform.

Donations

Facebook has announced that charities using Facebook’s payment platform to process donations do not pay a fee. 

Charities will need to:

  • Have a Facebook page with a category of Nonprofit Organisation’ or Charity Organisation’ and will need to include an address on the page.
  • Sign up for Facebook Payments for a page admin account
  • Accept Facebook’s terms of service

You can apply to accept donations on Facebook here.

Note, during the sign-up stage for Facebook payments, you will need to supply the following information:

  • Date of birth and address of the charity’s CEO
  • Bank account details and bank statement within the last 3 months

Personal Fundraisers

As an individual, you can create a personal fundraiser to raise money for yourself, a friend or any of the following categories:

  • Education: such as tuition, books or classroom supplies
  • Medical: such as medical procedures, treatments or injuries
  • Pet Medical: such as veterinary procedures, treatments or injuries
  • Crisis Relief: such as public crises or natural disasters
  • Personal Emergency: such as a house fire, theft or car accident
  • Funeral and Loss: such as burial expenses or living costs after losing a loved one
  • Sports: such as equipment, competitions or team fees
  • Community: such as neighbourhood services, community improvements or environmental improvements

Personal fundraisers can be created by going to facebook.com/fundraisers. This is now going to be rolled out to the UK.  Note: A fee will be deducted from donations. (6.9% + $0.30)

Are you going to use either of these services?  Let us know.

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New scheduling options now available on Instagram

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You can now schedule and post Instagram posts directly from Hootsuite

Instagram has launched a handy new feature for brands/businesses who use Instagram. You now have the ability to schedule content for publishing. 

Previously you could only schedule Instagram posts using a social media management tool such as Hootsuite. You would get a push notification reminder at the time the post was due and you would then have to manually post to Instagram. Now Instagram has added support for this feature to its API so social media management tools such as Hootsuite, ContentCal, Sprout Social, Buffer and others have the ability to add this to their platforms.

At Concise Training, we have been using Hootsuite for a number of years and they were one of the first to add the ability to schedule Instagram posts.

To schedule posts:

  • Activate it on your Hootsuite dashboard.  If you’ve not added Instagram to Hootsuite yet have a look at the help section here.  
  • Ensure that your Instagram account is a business account and that it is connected to a Facebook Business Page. If you need help with this have a look at the Facebook help page.
  • Make sure you are logged into Instagram with the profile you wish to schedule posts for on Hootsuite. 
  • Go to your Hootsuite dashboard and act like you are going to schedule a post to Hootsuite. You should see a notification in blue regarding publishing photos directly to Instagram. Click on set up direct photo publishing

It's easy to add your set up your Hootsuite account on incorporate Instagram.

  • Click Get started

You are just a couple of steps away from completing the setup of your Instagram account on Hootsuite.

  • Click set upon the popup that is displayed

Once you have followed these steps you should be able to post directly from Hootusite to your Instagram profile.

  • A pop up will appear asking you to authorise Hootsuite to integrate with your Instagram account.  Click ‘ok‘ and then click ‘Done‘.  You are now set up to publish from Hootsuite to your Instagram account.

Interestingly, Instagram has announced that this feature will be added to personal profiles from early 2019. 

What do you think? Will this development change the way you are using Instagram or perhaps you will start using Instagram?  Let us know.

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Twitter – Updates Feb 2018

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In our latest blog post we explore the latest Twitter updates Feb 2018.

Over the past few weeks, Twitter has added some new functionality to its platform. To keep you updated we have collated the information into this handy blog post.

Accessibility  

You can now make your Twitter feed more accessible to people with a visual impairment. You can add descriptions to your images in a similar way to how you would add alt’ descriptions to web images. 

To add descriptions to your images you first need to activate the function in your Twitter settings. Click on Settings & Privacy > Accessibility > Compose Image Descriptions then toggle this option on

Twitter Updates - You can now add image descriptions to images you post to Twitter.

When you compose a Tweet and add an image you will notice you now have an add description’ option. You can add a description to your image (not GIFs or videos) of up to 420 characters. 

Adding the description to your Twitter images is easy.

Push Notifications

Twitter is starting to push personalised news alerts to users using a mix of algorithms and humans to decide who gets what. The alert will link to a Twitter Moment, which is a collection of tweets about the topic (compiled by humans).

Photo Cropping

Twitter has shared how it crops photos that are uploaded to improve consistency and to allow you to see more Tweets at a glance”. In the past, the crop used to focus on the centre of an image which sometimes missed the crucial part of the photo. Now, neural networks are used to identify areas of the image with high contrast to predict what people might want to look at. 

This is quite a useful update which you can read more about here.

Twitter has released information on how it crops images to display on its platform.

What do you think of the latest Twitter updates? Do let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

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How colours affect communication

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In our latest blog post we look at how colours affect communication

Choosing the right colours for your company is about what message you want to convey about your brand rather than picking your favourite colours. When visitors land on your website, view your posts, newsletter or read your blog, the first thing they will interpret are the colours. The brain sees and remembers colours first which we associate with memories, experiences, beliefs and cultural influences.

Colour is often referred to as the silent salesperson’. It conveys meanings and feelings as it visualizes messages in a universal language that applies to all industries. Colour psychology is a powerfully persuasive tool used by marketers to influence behaviour.

It is important to consider your target market before choosing a colour scheme for your brand. The cultural meaning of colours should also be taken into account to ensure you don’t cause offence. Here is a useful article on what colours mean in other cultures. The words and imagery used on your website, blog, newsletter or brochure should complement the colours you choose to help reinforce your brand. Take a look at the colours and imagery used on the Lifestyle Resolutions website as an example. (created by Concise Digital).

The following colour associations may help you think about the subliminal messages you are conveying to your audience and determine a colour scheme that portrays your brand most effectively to your target audience:

Black Black is elegant and sophisticated. It exudes power and implies leadership, security and trustworthiness. It is also associated with magic and death.

Examples: The Telegraph, Adidas, Nike, BBC, Mailchimp, Apple.

Blue Blue is the colour of the oceans, lakes and skies.  It is an intellectual colour suggesting authority and professionalism. It is a safe choice in building customer loyalty and is popular with legal and finance companies. It also has associations with cleanliness and calmness. Avoid using blue if you are promoting anything about food as blue is said to suppress the appetite. Apparently, blue is the world’s favourite colour and the most widely acceptable colour to men. 

Examples: Visa, Facebook, JP Morgan, American Express, IBM.

Purple Purple is often associated with dignity, royalty and power. Purple can also represent creativity, spirituality and magic.

Examples: Cadbury, Zoopla, Hallmark.

Pink: Fuchsia is the colour of flowers, energy, vibrancy, youthfulness, fun and exoticism. It denotes feminine qualities. Lighter pinks are more romantic and calming.  

Examples: T-Mobile, Barbie, Accessorize.

Red Red is the most exciting colour in the spectrum, it is eye-catching and demands attention and is perfect for anywhere you wish to draw attention as it brings text and images to the foreground. Red can be used to stimulate people to make quick decisions so is a good colour for calls to action such as buy now’. Red symbolises energy, passion, aggression, danger, strength, courage and love.

Examples: Red Cross, Xerox, Coca Cola and Levi Straus.

Orange Orange is another attention getter, it is vibrant, cheerful and creative evoking a sense of enthusiasm and confidence. Steer away from dark orange as this can be associated with distrust and deceit!

Examples: Harley Davidson, FedEx (orange & purple), Mastercard

Yellow Yellow is warm and optimistic often associated with happiness, energy and youth. It grabs attention with its friendly, inviting quality and is popular among children’s brands. Yellow is an emotional colour, too much of it can affect our self-esteem hence the term yellow-streak” or even indicate cowardice yellow belly”.

Examples: McDonald’s, Hertz, Renault, Shell.

Green Green is the colour of vegetation, a neutral colour that is associated with harmony. Green evokes growth, nature, renewal and, in the Middle East, deity. It has a strong emotional link with safety. Dark green is associated with wealth. Green is a common choice for companies and charities involved in healthcare and the environment. companies with environmental or health care.

Examples: Landrover, BP, Starbucks, Greenpeace.

Need some inspiration? Click here to explore colour schemes and combinations with Adobe’s Colour Wheel or try Mailchimp’s Pictaculous colour palette generator.

Under our Concise Digital brand, we create branding, logos, leaflets, websites and social media images.  Do let us know if you would like more information.

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MailChimp adds new Pop Up forms

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MailChimp has added new pop up forms to its platform.

MailChimp is one of our favourite marketing platforms for creating high-quality email marketing. It is easy to use and offers full integration with WordPress.

MailChimp has now introduced new pop up forms to help encourage people to sign up for your mailing list. The forms are free and can be customised to represent your brand design you don’t need any coding skills either. You can choose when the form is triggered and give a success message. The trigger can be activated so many seconds after arrival when somebody scrolls or when somebody is about to exit your site. This will make it easy for the form to appear exactly when and where you want it.

It's straightforward to create a MailChimp pop up form.

Image Source

The form can also be placed in the centre of the site, as a slide-in or permanently displayed.

Reports are available and will generate important analytics to measure the success of your form. Importantly the forms are mobile responsive and search friendly. 

The form will be auto-published to Shopify, WooCommerce or PrestaShop Sites connected with MailChimp.

Do you use a pop-up form on your website? Could this new feature from MailChimp benefit you? Do let us know in the comments section below.

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Facebook adds facial recognition software

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Facebook is using facial recognition software to recognise you in photos your not tagged in.

Facebook is rolling out an update so it will now tell you if it thinks it has recognised you in a picture or video that nobody has tagged you in. 

To do this, facial recognition techniques compare the picture with your profile picture. and other pictures you are tagged in. You will only be told about pictures you can see based on the privacy settings of the poster. You will also be informed if a mutual friend of one of your friends uploads a photo and the image audience settings are set to everyone’.

Facebook will notify you if it's facial recognition software recognises you.

Image Source

Facebook is hoping that when you receive a notification that you have been recognised in an image you will then engage with that image and stay longer on the platform.

The technology is also going to be used to detect when other people use photos of you as their own profile picture.

You will be able to opt out of this in Settings > Timeline and Tagging

Have you been notified that a photo has been posted without you being tagged in it? How do you feel about this update? Do let us know in the comments section below.

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Facebook changes how pages appear in Newsfeed

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Facebook - Friends firstFacebook has announced a major change to how its algorithm works in this post.

In the announcement, Facebook has said that during the coming weeks content between people that sparks conversations with friends and family will be prioritised over content from businesses, brands and media. 

This will mean that pages are likely to see a decline in organic reach, referral traffic and video watch time. Pages who do not get any engagement will see the biggest impact.  Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect”.  

What is this going to mean for business use of Facebook?

It is likely that ultimately organic business posts will be moved to a separate feed which Facebook experimented with last year in six countries.  Not surprisingly pages in those countries saw a dramatic decrease in reach.  This news broke this morning so the jury is still out on exactly what impact the changes will have.  However, in the meantime, we suggest you:

  1. Train your community to use First News to see your post.  Watch this video to see how to do that.

  2. As always on Facebook create engaging content that hasn’t changed.
  3. Be prepared to use Facebook ads to get your Facebook posts in front of the right people (use the Ads Manager rather than Boost)
  4. Consider whether Facebook groups might be a way to continue to talk to your community
  5. Ensure Facebook really is the right social media channel for you.  It is going to take more work so you need to make sure your audience is active on Facebook – it might be a case of using LinkedIn or Instagram or even Twitter more – depending on who you are aiming at.
  6. Make sure your marketing strategy includes a marketing mix (content marketing, email newsletters, LinkedIn, an optimised website, offline marketing) this hasn’t changed – we have always been a big advocate of creating email subscriber lists.
  7. Sign up for our newsletter to make sure you get the latest information about what these changes mean for you 🙂

More to come over the next few weeks as we learn more.  Let me know what you think about the changes in the comments below.

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How to Create a Twitter Thread

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Twitter have made it easier to create threads on its platform.

Twitter is rolling out an easier way to create a series of Tweets. You will be able to create a Tweet containing up to 280 characters, hit a plus sign and then type another Tweet. 

Previously you could create a thread by posting a Tweet and then replying to your own Tweet, which was quite a long-winded way of creating a thread. This new way is much easier and allows you to post your complete thread all at once.

How to create a Twitter thread

  • Start to create a Tweet as soon as you type something you will notice that the +’ sign option becomes available. 

It's easy to create a Twitter thread.

  • When you have created your first Tweet, press the +’ icon and compose your next Tweet.

Clicking the + button allows you to add to your Twitter thread.

  • Repeat this process until you have composed all the Tweets you want in your thread

 

  • When you are happy to Tweet the complete thread, press the Tweet all’ button.

Once you are ready you click Tweet all to display your thread.

  • Twitter users will need to click show this thread’ to see the whole series of Tweets. 

Creating a thread is a great way of grouping your Tweets together. Companies use them for promoting related products or for producing useful content such as step by step guides.

Will creating threads be useful for you? Do let us know any ways you could think of using Twitter threads.

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How to Follow Hashtags on Instagram

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You can now follow Hashtags on Instagram.

Instagram has started to roll out a really useful feature. You can now search and follow hashtags.

Previously you could click a hashtag in a post or search for a specific hashtag by going to the explore tab.  The option is now available to follow a hashtag in the same way you would follow an Instagram account. Once you have followed a hashtag the algorithms will select highlights from that tag and display them in your main feed. 

How to follow a hashtag? 

  1. Select the explore tab and type in a keyword/phrase for example socialmedia
  2. Select the Tags’ option the search will now display only hashtags

To follow a hashtag you search for the phrase of your choice.

  1. You can now select any of the displayed search results. This will display posts associated with the hashtag and the option to follow’

You can follow a hashtag by selecting 'follow'

The option to follow a specific hashtag is great for business users as it will allow you to follow your keyword phrases associated with your brand and/or business.

What are your thoughts on the ability to follow hashtags? Would you like to see this on any more social media platforms?

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Concise Learners – Interview with Joe Morton

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Joe Morton recently completed our Digital Marketing Diploma.

Joe you recently completed our 18-month Diploma in Digital Marketing. How have things changed in your businesses since you started?

Things have changed massively in the business, with us both moving premises and hiring two new Level 3 Apprentices. It’s been great for me to be able to teach the new apprentices new things and see them develop as I did in the 18 months of my first apprenticeship. 

Tell me more about your business

We help companies, mostly in the Chesterfield area, with all online and digital marketing as well as press releases and editorial work. Whether it’s social media management, website content creation, press release writing or any design work, our team will be able to help. We generally look at building long-term relationships but still do plenty of project work such as social media management through a hectic time or designing websites. 

Do you remember why you took our course?

I took the course to make sure I could learn the skills I needed in order to work efficiently in the office and to develop myself as a marketer. With the knowledge I gained throughout the course, I have become much more useful to the company. 

What are your aims for 2018?

I aim to continue working hard at my Level 4 apprenticeship to further develop my knowledge of the sector and the work involved in it. Also, I hope to have another successful year with the business as we will hopefully see it grow even more.

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Facebook Messenger on your Website?

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You can now incorporate Facebook Messenger on your website.

Recently Facebook has introduced a Messenger chat application that can be installed on websites. Here at Concise Training, we have been using Purechat as a (paid) chat application for the last 12 months and have seen great success as you can read on our blog.  Therefore we were excited to give the Facebook (free) version a trial on our Concise Digital WordPress website.  Read on to see how we got on.

Installing the plugin

There is a technical way which gives more customisation options but is more complex and there is a quicker, easier way using a WordPress plugin, which provides you with a working chat window in just a few easy steps. We will take you through both options: 

The technical setup

The steps for installing the Facebook Messenger chat functionality on your website are as follows:

Step 1 On your Facebook Page click settings” then Messenger Platform” then Whitelisted Domains” add in the URL of the website that will feature the chat window E.G. https://concisedigital.net This must be an HTTPS:// (secure) domain.

Step 2 Add the Facebook SDK (development kit) to your website by inserting some code to every page that you wish to use the chat window on. There are further instructions for this step here.

Step 3 Add code for the chat window itself to the page where you want the chat window to appear. There are various ways you can customise the code to change the way the chat window appears and behaves. If you are technically minded you can read about these here.

Using a WordPress Plugin

There are a couple of WordPress plugins that will do some of the technical work for you. The steps that you still need to follow are more straightforward to complete than above:

Step 1 As with the above method start on your Facebook Page click settings” then Messenger Platform” then Whitelisted Domains” add in the URL of the website that will feature the chat window E.G. https://concisedigital.net This must be an HTTPS:// (secure) domain.

Steps om how to add the Facebook Messenger using a WordPress plugin.

Step 2 Install the WordPress plugin by logging in to WordPress then choosing plugins” then add new”. The plugin that we used is called Customer Chat for Facebook and it is by Sam Carlton.

Step 3 Configure the plugin settings.

Plugin Settings

The plugin settings are very straightforward to complete. First, you need to enter the numerical ID of your Facebook page. If you don’t know the numerical ID but you know the Facebook Page URL you can use this useful online tool to find the ID number.

The second part of the settings involves creating a Facebook App. This is actually quite straightforward and there is a helpful link within the settings page that will take you to the Facebook Developers site (you need to be logged in to Facebook to access it).

Once here, you need to:

Add a new App

Name it and click Create new App ID

To add Facebook Messenger, part of the process is creating a Facebook App.

On the next screen copy the APP ID from the top left-hand corner

Adding Facebook Messenger to your website will offer some great benefits.

Paste the App ID into the WordPress plugin settings box:

One of the steps to add Facebook Messenger to your website is to paste the App ID into the settings box.

Then you can choose whether you want the chat window to start open or minimised and select your language.

Save the settings and that is it done!

Check to see if it works

When you visit your site you should now see the chat window available.  Note that visitors have to log in using their Facebook credentials when they click the chat now” button for us, this is a big disadvantage of using Facebook chat as opposed to Purechat but it will depend on your audience.

You should now see the Facebook Messenger chat window appear on your website.

The Chat Experience

From the website visitor’s point of view they see the chat box on your website:

The Facebook Messenger chat experience.

From the Facebook Page’s point of view the chat appears just as any other Facebook Chat in Messenger (the desktop version is shown):

The web chat just appears like any other Facebook Messenger chat.

Summary

Advantages

  • It is free to use!
  • If you use the WordPress plugin to add the Facebook Chat to your website it is really quite straightforward to get it working.
  • The chat experience for the website user is exactly as it is on Facebook Messenger only with some basic functionality and minimal emojis etc.
  • The experience for the Facebook page owner is just like having any other Messenger conversation and they can send emojis, attachments, links etc very easily.
  • Once a visitor starts a Facebook Messenger conversation with a business, the business can then make use of Messenger advertising to retarget the visitor
  • An administrator of the Facebook Page can answer the message.  With paid chat applications, only users who have a login to the application can answer.

Disadvantages

  • Visitors need to be logged in to Facebook to be able to use the chat functionality
  • The chat functionality is always on.  Paid chat applications have the options to offer email support outside office hours.
  • If the website user wants to make use of normal Messenger extras such as attachments they will need to click in the menu to take the conversation across to Facebook which will take the visitor away from your website
  • Facebook may track private messengers 

We are impressed with the functionality and will continue to use the Facebook Messenger app on our Concise Digital website for now.  However, the fact that you have to be on Facebook to use the chat could be a potential issue for our training prospects so we will continue to use PureChat for now.

Let us know in the comments are you going to use chat functionality on your website?  Which option will you choose?

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Link Building in 2017 and Beyond

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How to go about link building.

We often talk about the importance of link building as a way of increasing how Google views your website. The importance of links to your website has not diminished but the way that they are valued has changed a lot since the early days of Google.

Consider the origins of the search algorithms used for Google originally they were developed for cataloguing academic articles and papers. More prominence was given to those articles that were cited” often by their peers the more they were cited, the more important they were deemed to be.

This was developed and adapted to consider links as a way of measuring the importance and trust associated with a webpage. The trouble is, people realised that they could generate lots of links to their own web pages and convince Google and other search engines that their page was important enough to feature in the top few listings in the search results. Such black hat” techniques devalued the Google search algorithms so they quickly acted to change things.

Now Google sets more prominence to the source of a link to your web page. The more highly regarded the website that is linking to yours, the more kudos” is given to your web page. The most highly regarded sites in the UK would be those with .gov (Government) and .ac.uk (academic) URLs and then large wellknown organisations like the BBC. In fact, having lots of links to your web page from low value” websites and directories can actually harm your web page’s standing in Google.

How to get worthwhile links

Apart from registering in directories etc., what other ways can be used to build links?

The first and best approach is through the generation and publication of quality, valuable content. You can try:

Creating infographics Publish these on your own website and promote via social media. Also, suggest influencers publish them on their website and give them an accompanying guest post for them to use.

Create a white paper which gives interesting, valuable information which people will be happy to link to and share.

Create videos that are useful and include a call to action to share.

Join discussions on forums and post your link when relevant to the discussion be careful with how and when you do this as it is quite spammy” if not done in a genuine and open” way.

You can use several tactics to help build and maintain links to your web pages:

1. Finding dead links Use a tool such as Rank Signals to find those links to your website pages that are broken because you have moved the content or removed it all together. Contact the site to offer them the correct URL to use.

2. Skyscraper approach If you build a skyscraper I will build a bigger and better one!

The skyscraper approach to Link building.

In this approach you find a piece of content linked to by your target website, improve upon it and then offer your new and improved version to the website owners.

3. Opportunity prospecting Use specific search terms involving your keyword phrases to locate sites that are relevant to the subject you have content about and contact them to offer your content justifying why they should link to it.

Link Building is an ongoing task that should be undertaken alongside a programme of Search Engine Optimisation. It is not a magic solution to the problem of getting your website higher in the search results and done badly it can harm your search rankings.

To learn more about link building and search engine optimisation consider our Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation course.

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Pinterest – Visual Search Tools

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Pinterest have added some useful visual search features recently.

Pinterest has been busy recently creating new ways for you to use visual search on its platform. In this blog, we look at each feature individually and provide information and insights into how they can be utilised.

Lens

The concept of Lens is simple but the results are powerful. Point Lens camera search tool at any object, a plant, wallpaper, bedding etc. and see what it finds. It optimises what a visual search tool can do by using your smartphones camera to take a photo of an object and finding items similar to the style, colour and appearance.

To access lens you select the camera icon in the top right-hand corner.

To access the lens visual search you select the camera icon.

You aim your camera at the item you wish to use to search for similar items and press the white circle at the bottom of the screen.

Using lens visual search you take an image of the item you wish to find related items for.

Once you’ve taken the image you will see little dots appear which indicates that lens is working on your results.

Coloured dots will appear whilst the visual search is taking place.

You will then see the results of the visual search including keywords related to the image E.G. ‘shoes’, ‘running’ ‘Adidas’ and images which lens has identified as being similar to the original items. If you click on a keyword it will show you results based on that keyword. You can then pin any images which are relevant to your chosen board.

You will be presented with the results of the lens visual search.

Shop the Look

Shop the look is currently only available in the US. It’s a handy feature in which blue circles indicate different parts of a fashion or home decor Pin. By clicking on one of the circles the user will be taken to a Buyable Pin’ where they can then complete the purchase of the item. 

The visual search of shop the look is highlighted by the blue dots.

Image Source – Pinterest

Responsive Visual Search

Responsive visual search is rolling out soon for iOS devices. According to Pinterest, it will provide a more seamless and immersive way to search images.” You pinch to zoom on an object you see within a pin to automatically start a visual search for similar Pins.

Pincodes

Pincodes are essentially Pinterest’s version of a QR code. Pinterest has teamed up with some major brands including Kraft Heinz who will eventually add Pincodes to their products. When you see a Pincode, you open the Pinterest app and select the camera icon on the top right-hand side of the screen. Point your camera at the Pincode which will automatically scan the code without the need to capture an image. You will instantly access Pins, boards, and other ideas on Pinterest related to the Pincode you’ve scanned.

Create your own Pincode

You can easily create your own Pincode to give to your friends and family so that they can access your Pinterest profile and follow you. 

  1. To create your own Pincode go to your profile page and click on your profile image.
  2. Click on ‘Create Pincode’. This will then save a copy of your Pincode to your photos so you can share it easily.

When a Pincode is scanned it will show the results of a specific visual search.

Pincodes are a  really useful addition and could be used to great effect by brands and businesses around the world. Imagine you are shopping in your favourite clothes store and you love all the items on a particular stand, how great would it be to just scan a Pincode and get images of all the clothes on that stand directly to your Pinterest account?

Will you be using these new features?  Do share your experiences.

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Facebook unveils Messenger Kids app

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Facebook has unveiled its new Kids Messenger app.

Facebook has previewed a new version of its Messenger app which is specifically aimed at children. Messenger Kids has been co-developed with experts, parents and kids.

The app can be installed on a tablet or smartphone but is controlled by a parent’s Facebook account so all contacts are parent approved. The home screen will show the contacts they are approved to connect with and when they are online. They can then decide whether to start a one to one or group video chat. Facebook said that there are no adverts or in-app purchases and the child’s information will not be used for advertising purposes.

Kids will also be able to text, video and photo messages to their approved contacts who will receive their messages via the regular Facebook Messenger app. 

Facebook has also developed a range of child-friendly GIFs, stickers, frames, masks and drawing tools so they can be creative whilst they chat with their family and friends.

The Messenger Kids app will include child friendly GIFs, frames and masks.

Facebook confirmed that there will be no advertising within the app and that they will not use children’s data for ad targeting. 

Messenger Kids is currently only previewing in the US but is expected to be rolled out worldwide after a successful trial.

What do you think? Would you encourage/let your children use this app?

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Why You Should Upgrade to WordPress 4.8.3

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WordPress upgrade

We haven’t written about WordPress for a little while and there have been a number of new features added this year so we thought we would give you a quick roundup of some of the useful features that have been added recently.

In early 2017 WordPress released version 4.8 of its popular website and blogging platform. This came with some long-anticipated improvements which included several patches for security vulnerabilities and several additional features that previously you had to get via plugins.

Version 4.8 comes with several very handy updates to the handling of media including widgets for images, videos and audio. It is hard to believe that it took so long for an image widget to become part of the core functionality of WordPress. This was something that many people added to earlier versions through plugins (Jetpack for instance) but in version 4.8, the image widget finally appeared with WordPress “out of the box”.

The Image Widget

This is a basic widget which lets you add an image to a widget area of your theme:

WordPress Image Widget

Clicking the “Add Image” button takes you to the familiar media library to select or upload your chosen image and this is what it would look like in the sidebar (Satori theme) with an image selected:

WordPress Image Widget

You have been able to embed YouTube videos into a WordPress post or page for some time. This was simply done by pasting the URL of the video onto a separate line using the visual editor making sure that the URL is not hyperlinked. WordPress is clever enough to work out from this that you want to display the video at this point.

What if you want to add a video in a widget area of your website such as the sidebar or footer? This was more complex until the introduction of the video widget in WordPress 4.8.

The Video Widget

The video widget looks very similar to the image widget:

WordPress Video Widget

Clicking the add video button will take you to the media library. Here you can choose a video file that you have uploaded to the library or (better still) choose to “insert from URL”. The widget can show videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram, DailyMotion and in fact any of these video hosting services.

If you want finer control over how the video displays you might want to think about using a plugin to do this but if all you want is a way to display a video in your sidebar then this is the easiest option.

As well as the Image and video widgets, WordPress 4.8 introduced a new Audio Player widget which makes hosting clips and sound files a doddle.

The Audio Widget

Again with minimal options, the audio widget looks just like the other new media widgets:

Audio Widget

Clicking add audio takes you to the media library and you can then choose to upload an audio file or let somebody else host it and choose “insert from URL”.

Changes to the Text Widget

The text widget has been the go-to option for website developers looking to add media or links or stylised text to a widget area for some time. The problem was always that you had to know your HTML coding in order to use it to its full potential and styles had to be applied to the text using CSS so you needed to know what you were doing with that too.

The new text widget in version 4.8 of WordPress comes with Rich Text Editing and a mini version of the visual editor so now it is easy to style your text and add links etc.

Text Widget

There is still the option of adding HTML code if you switch the editor to the “text” version but this is no longer the widget for that as there is also now a fantastic new “Custom HTML” widget for this. If you insist on continuing to add code to the new text widget you may fall foul of the annoying habit of the WordPress editor of stripping out code that it doesn’t recognise if the editor is switched between visual and text mode.

Custom HTML Widget

There were some initial hiccups with the introduction of these widgets in the WordPress core but we are now up to WordPress 4.8.3 and most of these have been sorted out now.

We would love to hear about how you have made use of the new widgets on your site and let us know in the comments if you have experienced any issues when using them.

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3 C’s for Social Media Content Management

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Curate - Create - CommunicateCurate – Create – Communicate

At Concise we manage a range of social media channels for a number of clients. We firmly believe that social media content should be a mixture of original content and curated content. One of our team, Viv shares her daily process:

Having already established who I am creating content for, identified their audience and the right channels for their business, I am ready to start curating content for each of their channels.
I spend around 15 minutes every morning scanning for content to curate for clients. This daily ritual ensures that content is fresh and relevant and keeps me up to date with industry trends and developments and is often a source of inspiration for new content.

1 – Curate

As much as I like original content, this takes a great deal of time and most brands will need a system for curating content that appeals to their audience. Curated content adds interest; another dimension, encourages network with influencers, and creates a rich tapestry of content that audiences want to share.
My first port of call for resources across most channels is the client blog, after that, I visit Feedly and Scoop.it for articles which are useful for searching by topic. I also keep a short list of industry newsletters, newspaper sectors and favourite bloggers for each client.

Different content works for each of the different channels we manage:

Facebook – You can create lists for curating content based on liked pages and interests. I also search for inspirational quotes, funny memes and shareable links. Posts tend to attract a much higher reach than links, in my experience – Facebook algorithms have a habit of stifling reach for links to your website as leverage to opt for paid adverts and boosted content.

Twitter – I create a number of lists for each client including influencers, prospects, clients, competitors and topics relevant to the brand. I use Hootsuite to manage these lists and also listen out for relevant hashtags and keywords. I can then easily cherry pick useful content to retweet or comment on. Typically I post 7 times a day on Twitter as well as retweets and mentions and I try to keep to a ratio of only 1 in every 7 tweets direct selling.

LinkedIn – For LinkedIn I create a schedule to post different types of content each day, perhaps a quote or research article to ask people to comment on, ask questions, join discussions and seek opinion. I often share content from thought-leaders, although people in your network may be aware of them, it may be useful to make their content easier to digest. The common thread here is engagement with the people in your network to ultimately expand your network.

Pinterest – Most of the pins on Pinterest are about things that have already happened and what people want to achieve. It’s a great place to showcase your products and services that can be harvested from your website. Images that inspire people to get creative with your product or service work very well. Curated content that your followers will find useful is key to building a profile that is the ‘go to’ resource for your area of expertise.

2 – Create

The best social media content is that which resides on your website. At Concise Training, we aim to create one blog post per week and repurpose content across the channels in snippets, excerpts and links to extend the life of the content and reach more people. Concise has a calendar of monthly themes with topics and events to underpin our blog posts, newsletters and update profiles across all channels and we encourage our clients to do something similar.

Quote - There can be no words without pictures

It is widely accepted that images boost engagement and encourage shares. I create distinctive, branded visual content that enables people to discover more about the brand and encourages them to make a personal connection. You can read more about creating images to boost engagement here.

3 – Communicate

Now that you have created your content it is time to communicate!
At Concise Training, we have a process for communicating content. Generally speaking, we schedule only a few days in advance to keep content current. Content is not only shared on our networks but also through email newsletters. Particularly for Twitter, we often repurpose content; aside from dedicated followers, with the unrelenting surge of content on Twitter, it is likely that a good proportion of what you post can pass by unread. We communicate blog posts through a series of excerpts across our social media channels. This is not only because it is a source of new content but because more often than not, people read blogs not by visiting websites directly, but through the snippets we share. There are numerous business benefits of maintaining a blog that we explore in more detail here.

For every client we manage, we respond to comments promptly (checking with clients where necessary) and make a point of thanking people for taking the time to reach out with comments and messages. Sometimes lengthy or offline conversations or can be sparked by a single comment so they can be a valuable way of increasing awareness of what a client’s brand stands for. In order to encourage commenting, I try and finish off blog posts with a request for input from the reader… so what are you waiting for?

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How do you study whilst in a full time job?

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How do you study whilst in a full time job?

We have just started our 10th intake of our City & Guilds Diploma in Social Media for Business. When we get enquiries about our qualifications, one of the common questions We have just begun our 10th intake of our diploma in social media for business.we get asked is How much studying do I need to do and how do you recommend I fit all the studying around my work, family and everyday commitments?” It’s not something that can be easily answered as everybody’s circumstances are different. 

Our qualifications are designed with everyday life in mind and are meant to be completed around your current life commitments. We recommend you are prepared to commit 10 hours a week (less than 2 hours per day) to completing the course.  The amount of time will vary from person to person depending on their current knowledge and interest in the material.  We recommend the time is spread throughout the week rather than squeezed into 1 day

We know that it can be difficult to fit in your learning around your daily routine and commitments so we wanted to share two different situations where learning has been fitted in around regular daily life

Viv’s Study Plan

Sometimes it’s just not possible to fit in everything I’d like to do, including studying. I often make lists of the things I have to do no matter how mundane the task, (work, study, childcare, school run, chores, exercise) then prioritise the essentials and work out where there are potential gaps to study. I can then be realistic about how much study time I can fit in, be it an hour a day or an hour a week. 

Sink or swim!

Even with this approach, things often crop-up that can affect your study schedule as part Planning your study time can help you combat any potential interruptions.of the daily demands of a busy life.  The trick is to not beat yourself up, remember your end goal and resume your studies as soon as you can.

It really helps to get your family on board to support you with your study time; quiet, uninterrupted time away from the kids can make the world of difference.  And, if the course you are studying benefits your employer, you may be able to negotiate a few hours a week during your normal working hours to study.

Jonathan’s Study Plan

During my period of needing to study, I had to fit my time in around a demanding full-time job, spending time with my fiance and seeing family and friends.

Learning to juggle

It is a bit of a juggling act but it does help if you prepare and plan your study time into It can be difficult to juggle your other commitments whilst studying.convenient times when you can study with fewer distractions and focus on the task at hand. 

As I often worked on weekends and had a day off during the week, I was able to plan my study time when I was at home and my fiancee was at work.  I was lucky that I didn’t have to worry about rushing home from work, preparing and eating a meal and then begin studying at 9 in the evening however it did require a fair bit of self-motivation.

I would create a schedule for each day, which included start time, a few 10-minute breaks a 45-minute lunch break and finish time similar to a school timetable. This enabled me to have a good 7 hours studying time.  Download a schedule here.

Other Examples

As our course is delivered entirely online, learners can access their learning whenever they want. Looking at the access logs, we have seen learners access at 12 o’clock at night as well as 5am in the morning!  Some prefer to stay up late at night others get up an hour earlier in the morning.  It is important to find what works for you and your learning style.  

The course also enables you to learn from where ever you happen to be.  One recent learner started the course when she was in India, continued on moving to Wales (whilst managing the social media for a hotel in Sri Lanka) and is soon to return to India to avoid the British winter. Apart from waiting for Internet access in Wales, her learning continued uninterrupted!

So, whether you take our courses or investigate other courses there really should be no barrier to developing yourself through learning other than your own personal motivation.

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ContentCal – Why planning spreadsheets should be a thing of the past for social media marketers

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ContentCal could eliminate the need for social media marketers to use spreadsheets.

Anybody who has attended our training (face to face or distance learning) will know that we keep banging on about the importance of content planning. We recently began using ContentCal, a new social media planning and publishing tool which we will be recommending to our learners. 

There are plenty of these tools available to help manage social media updates onlineThe ContentCal logo. Some of them are a lot better than others whilst others offer different functionality some are free and some paid. We have, and still do, use a paid version of Hootsuite after all, it is a tried and tested social media tool.  It is really good for engaging, sharing and scheduling, however, it is not so good for planning updates, which can be reused or shared with clients before publishing.  In the past, we have used spreadsheets to plan updates, which we can then upload or copy and paste into Hootsuite. But let’s be honest, it is a bit of a faff.  What ContentCal provides is a much simpler and professional way of planning and posting and has made using spreadsheets a thing of the past.

Which Social Media channels does ContentCal work with?

Currently, you can post to Facebook Pages, Twitter, LinkedIn (profile and company pages) and Instagram (via the iOS app)

Calendar View

One of the major benefits of ContentCal is its calendar view. You create a calendar for each brand you want to manage. The calendar is where all the posts you have scheduled to automatically post to each of the various channels are displayed in date order. Scrolling left and right will advance the calendar back and forward whilst scrolling up and down shows you each social media channel and any content you’ve scheduled. You can easily navigate to a specific date by using the icons at the top of the calendar view page.

A screenshot of ContentCal

This image shows the calendar view in ContentCal. You can see the posts scheduled for each day.

When you post content, you can upload the image that you want to be posted along with the update so you can see how the post will look.

ContentCal also allows you to create category tags. For example, we have category tags for blogs, tips, news/info, qualifications etc. You can allocate each category a colour and assign each post a category tag so you can organise your posts easily.  It gives a fantastic visual way of ensuring that you are not just broadcasting, selling or getting into a rut about one aspect of your business.

Collaborative Working

ContentCal makes it simple to collaboratively work with your team. If more than one person is managing the social media marketing for a business, they can easily collaborate with each other and see what the other person has produced. Collaborators can leave messages on posts so that the next person is aware of what is happening. 

A person you are collaborating with could be the client. They may want to see what is being scheduled to go out on their channels. If posts need to be approved before they go out, this can be done easily within ContentCal. 

RePost Content

A useful feature of ContentCal is being able to repost content. You may have a post which you want to share across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with slight tweaks to the text. Once you have created the initial post, reposting to various channels can be done in minutes. 

You may also want the same post to go out at different days and times over the next few weeks but on the same social media channel. Again, once the initial post is created you simply click on re-use post’ and change the text (if required), the date and the time and click schedule’. You repeat this process for each time you wish to re-use the post. 

ContentCal makes it easy to re-use content.

This image shows a post in editing mode. You can see the option to ‘Re-use post’ outlined in red.

On ConentCal you can easily schedule your content.

When clicking ‘Re-use post’ you are taken to this screen, which allows you to amend the post and schedule another date.

Other Features

From a planning viewpoint, ContentCal has the ability to schedule placeholders as a way of reminding the team when blog posts, Infographics or other content needs to be written/published or an event is happening.  You can also add campaigns or themes across different months. Content Cal means all our content planning for all our clients and ourselves can be done in one place it is definitely making our lives easier.

The team behind ContentCal are extremely responsive to queries and are adding functionality all the time.  Additions we would like to see include a link shortening service, different calendar views, and the option to export calendars as CSV files. I’m looking forward to seeing how the team develop the product over time.

29/1/18 update.  In the past few weeks, ContentCal have added the ability to shorten links using bit.ly, view monthly calendars and access analytics on how content has done.

Cost

You can register for a free account which allows one user and one calendar. They also offer a business plan which allows unlimited social media accounts to be connected, unlimited calendars, unlimited users and more. You can view the plans here.

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Using Social Media to Market Your Small Business

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Using social media to market your small business

Have you joined the social media band wagon to promote your business? People are online now talking about your area of expertise and if you don’t engage in these conversations you’re going to miss out on a large proportion of your prospects.

Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram are all free platforms for businesses to promote their brand and engage with their audience on a local and a global basis.  However, don’t assume you will get instant marketing success or that it won’t cost money.  There is a well known saying that All good things come to those who wait” and it’s true for using Social Media to market your business. Don’t forget, your time is money so invest it well.

It can take three to six months to get proper traction on social media. There are things you can do to help speed up the process but let’s start with the basics to get you started:

  • Find the best platform to reach your target audience.
  • Find friends and followers by searching for keywords
  • Join in with conversations about your field of expertise. A good way of finding these is via social listening tools to follow keywords and hashtags.
  • Build relationships with influencers. Engaging with influencers early on can help you in the long run as it will help them remember you when you need approach them.

Some do’s and don’t to engage with your target audience

Do’s:

  1. Do ask questions to start a conversation
  2. Do provide value publish tips and insights for your area of expertise.
  3. Do provide shareable content A blog is a good way to do this and will drive traffic to your website.
  4. Do add interest   Reflect your personality in your posts, try fun facts about your area of expertise.

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t oversell.  Adopt the 1 in 7 rule where only 1 out of every 7 posts promotes your business.
  2. Don’t ignore copyright and privacy legislation or you could end up in hot water.
  3. Don’t ignore the results.  Analytics can tell you a lot about your audience, which topics and approach work best for your audience. 
  4. Don’t complain or write negative comments about a specific person or use photos of people without permission.

Some tips to use your time effectively

  1. Aim for 50% original content (your tips/tricks, interest) and 50% content shared from others your potential influencers for example.
  2. Plan your original content ahead of time.  We are seeing great success with contentcal.io as a way to plan our content
  3. Spend 20 30 minutes a day on each channel with a business purpose don’t get dragged into posts from your personal contacts which are fun but be mindful of your time
  4. Create a list of trusted influencers or places you are likely to get information to share which would be of interest to your audience.  This can be your go to’ place when sharing content.

Need some help getting started with your social media marketing?  Why not take one of our e-learning courses or if you can’t face doing it yourself, talk to Concise Digital about doing it for you.

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Concise Learners – Interview with Jennifer Corcoran

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Recently we caught up with one of our past learners; Jennifer Corcoran.

You finished working through our training courses about 8 months ago.  How have things changed in your businesses since you started?

I can hand on heart say that doing my training with Concise Training has literally changed the course of my professional career.  I was an Office Manager within Financial Services in London when I first started training with you guys back in 2014. I’m currently a Solopreneur working out of TMRW which is the largest tech hub in South London in my home town of Croydon. In August 2016, I quit my role of 11 years to do some continued professional development and in April 2017 I launched my first business.   I have drawn on my extensive experiences in the provision of high-level, high-quality executive support to set up My Super Connector.

Tell me more about your business

My Super Connector is a Social Media Consultancy.  In a nutshell, I help passionate people in business to polish their social media profiles and connect with finesse.   I cover the platforms of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Blogging.  By using my social media and social media management training, I’m able to engage Personal Assistants, Solopreneurs and small companies to review and assess their social media offerings and provide valuable advice and training on how to improve their presence in order to drive growth, productivity and profitability.

Do you remember why you took the Concise Training courses?

I was fed up of feeling out of the loop and wanted to feel comfortable online and doing your courses gave me that much-needed spring in my step.  I loved the e-learning platforms as I could do them at my own pace and in my own time.  It’s safe to say that to cut through and add value in this digital age you must increase your visibility and improve your chance of being heard.  Social media is not going away anytime soon and it’s a perfect platform for introverts like myself to shine and make an impact.  Thanks to you guys I’m an award-winning entrepreneur as your training enabled me to connect, collaborate and thrive.

Going forward, I’ll be keeping in the loop in the Concise Social Networking Support Club which keeps me abreast of all developments in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as Social Media, as you know, is ever changing at a rapid pace.  I especially love the monthly update reports which help to keep my finger on the pulse.   It’s reassuring to know that I can get my social media enquiries answered by experts in a fun and informal way and I’m forever learning from the engaged community members.

What are your aims for the rest of 2017?

My mission for My Super Connector is focused around the fact that you don’t have to be the loudest person to get noticed, you’ve just got to be the most effective.  2017 for me is about getting the word out that I’m in business and hoping to help as many people as I can reach their target audience and business/career goals.  I’ve two speaking gigs coming up and some potential podcasts and guest blogs so the future is looking exciting.  There is a lot of networking and connecting on the horizon!

You can contact Jennifer

Website: www.mysuperconnector.co.uk

LinkedIn: Jennifer’s LinkedIn Profile

Twitter: Super Connector

Facebook: Super Connector

Instagram: Super Connector

Pinterest: Super Connector

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Concise Learners – Interview with Gregory Blackett

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Gregory Blackett recently completed our social media for business diploma.

You finished your 12-month Diploma in the last couple of months. How have things changed in your businesses since you started?

I’ve applied the principles covered in the program from the outset and continue to refine my approach. I now have a much clearer understanding of the ‘technical’ aspects of the various channels, and how to leverage them effectively. The reach, following and level of engagement with our audiences have significantly improved resulting in a number of deals sourced directly from social media.

Tell me more about your portfolio of businesses

Advantage Caribbean Institute Ltd. offers a range of training solutions in information technology, management, productivity, performance enhancement and career development in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

Kinetic Sales Solutions provides sales, business development, outsourcing, social media and digital marketing services. Working with partners in various sectors the business connects clients with customers.

Olexis Enterprises LLC owns Lake Cay Condo, a luxury vacation condominium rental in Orlando, Florida

Do you remember why you took our course?

I recognised the growing importance of social media for professionals and businesses and the potential for career development. The field is gradually maturing in the region and there is a need for qualified practitioners. To my knowledge, this program provided by Concise Training through Advantage Caribbean Institute Ltd is the first City & Guilds social media and digital marketing qualification in the Caribbean.

What are your aims for the rest of 2017?

The businesses are in various stages of developing their overall strategies. As the year progresses the aim is to achieve the established benchmarks for each. Social media is key to maintaining viability and building the respective online presences.

You can listen to the rest of our interview with Gregory below.

 

You can contact Gregory

Telephone: 246-249-7774 / 860-924-6639

Email: grblackett@outlook.com

Skype: gregory.blackett

Twitter: @gregoryblackett

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Are you using the right social media channels for your business in 2017?

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Are you using the right social media channels for your business in 2017?

As I’m sure you are aware, social media marketing never stands still.   Not only do you need to have an always on” presence but as social networks continue to develop and evolve (join our Social Networking Support Club to keep up to date with the changes), it is worth regularly checking whether you are using the right channels for your business.  You are investing a great deal of time nurturing your online presence you need to be engaging with the right audience!   Take a look at our 5 tips to ensure your social media marketing will be successful in 2017.

Tip 1

Have a social media strategy and keep at it. Social media takes time and effort over a sustained period to achieve results. If you need help with this, take a look at our popular Social Media Strategy online course or ask us about our social media strategy services.

Tip 2 

Consider your audience demographic.  Trackx has created this infographic which provides an overview of some of the key audience stats for all the major social platforms.  This can help you determine which channels will work best for your business in 2017. There is no point spending lots of time on a channel if your audience is not going to be there but on the other hand don’t use too many channels there is a time/resource/investment balance required.

The infographic is as from Social Media Today and was created by Trackx.Source

Tip 3

Social Media may have changed since you started to use it. Let’s look at some of the key trends in 2017, as these may influence your decisions:

a) Social isn’t just for Millennials anymore According to this study by Pew Research, social networking use among Internet users ages 50 and older has nearly doubled—from 22% to 42% over the past year!

b) The line between Internet user and social network is becoming less distinct. In the same study, in 2009 only 46% of online adults used social media; this figure has now risen to around 70%. In a recent conversation with a friend of mine who runs a karate club, he refers to his Facebook channel as his website’ and uses this to good effect to advertise his business and keep his followers informed of events and classes together with useful tips.  Not every business needs a website and a Facebook page these days.

c) Video remains king Facebook has enjoyed considerable growth since its launch of live video streaming earlier in the year.  According to Social Media Week, the algorithm puts more emphasis on longer videos as long as they have relevant content.  We will only see more brands experimenting with this why not give it a try?

d) Increase in personalised content With the ever increasing amount of content published online, it is more important than ever to make sure your content is seen by the right people at the right time.  Collect data about your audience and create targeted content that really appeals to them. In a simple format, you could use Facebook remarketing to advertise to people who have visited your website or send targeted e-newsletters to different segments of your database.

Tip 4

Take another look at your social media profiles and make sure they still represent your brand. Check whether the cover photos need a refresh or whether the bios still accurately represent what you do and contain relevant keywords, and, if appropriate, hashtags.

Tip 5

Plan your content.  Create and plan content ahead of time.  We have started to use Content Cal to plan content across the brands we manage.  It is a visual tool that makes it easy to post and schedule updates in different categories to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  They offer a free version for 1 user perfect for small businesses.

What changes are you going to make?  Let us know in the comments below.

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Have You Created a Thunderclap?

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Have you created a Thunderclap? Our latest blog posts explores the use of Thunderclaps.

Have you even heard of a thunderclap?  A thunderclap is a way of getting lots of people to post the same update on Twitter and Facebook at the same time to generate the maximum impact. This works particularly well for a cause.  More than 12 billion Thunderclap messages have been seen in 238 countries and territories shared by over 7 million people.  Thunderclaps have been used by event organisers, charities and brands to promote their message.

There are a number of steps required to create your own Thunderclap:

Set up the Thunderclap

  1. Go to www.thunderclap.it
  2. Login with Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr
  3. Click Start
  4. Fill in the profile details about you
  5. Fill in the status update you would like shared along with the link you want to share and a photo. Note the status update (link not included) needs to be a maximum of 118 characters to allow space for the Thunderclap shortened version of your link.
  6. Fill in any information about the cause or reason for the Thunderclap.
  7. Choose how many supporters you will be able to get. You need to achieve the number of supporters or your Thunderclap will not be posted so it is best to aim for the minimum of 100 supporters unless you are very confident.

Get Supporters

  1. You now need to get people to support your Thunderclap by sharing a link to the Thunderclap. People can support using Twitter, Facebook personal profiles or Tumblr.
  2. It can take some time to get people to support, so it is a good idea to set up your Thunderclap at least a month before you want it to go out.
  3. As people support the Thunderclap, you are given the potential reach of the status update.

The Day Arrives

  1. When the day of your Thunderclap arrives, assuming you have reached the minimum supporter numbers, your status update will be shared automatically at the same time by all your supporters. As you can imagine this could reach thousands of people.

Example

This is a Thunderclap I have set up for a charity we are working for.

An example of a Thunderclap which we have set up for Walk with Me.

We would be grateful for your support.  You can experience ThunderClap (and support #WalkWithNyasha) by clicking this link

Let me know about any Thunderclaps you set up.

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Concise Training has received CPD Accreditation

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We are delighted that Concise Training has received CPD Accreditation.

We are delighted to announce that 10 of our popular e-Learning courses have received accreditation by the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) certification service.

The CPD certification service has been established for over 20 years and is the leading independent CPD accreditation institution operating across industry sectors to complement the Continuing Professional Development policies of professional institutes and academic bodies.

CPD is the holistic commitment of professionals towards the enhancement of personal skills and proficiency throughout their careers. (Source)

Why CPD Accreditation?

Many professional bodies require members to submit annual CPD statements to show what learning they have undertaken during the year.  Many people find that doing CPD courses help them develop professionally and update their knowledge and skills.  The advantage of taking a CPD accredited courses is that you can be sure that the course is of a high quality as all CPD courses (online and offline) are put through a thorough quality assessment to ensure they …

  • Help keep your capabilities up to date with current standards and other people in your area of expertise.
  • Help you to be more effective in the workplace ad advance your career.
  • Help you to increase your confidence professionally.
  • Help you stay interested in learning.

What are the benefits of our CPD accredited eLearning courses?

Our e-Learning courses are created solely with the user in mind who wants to learn in their own time and at their own pace. Each course is structured into learning objects each filled with valuable hands-on learning material. 

Each of our courses … 

  • Are updated regularly (every 6 months)
  • Takes the learner from a basic to advanced level of knowledge and skill set
  • Is written using an educational scaffolding approach, building on knowledge in a logical fashion
  • Includes exercises to check on learning
  • Includes an end point assessment to check learning is put into practice. The end point assessment will receive individual feedback from the Concise Team.
  • Is supported through email and a private Concise Facebook group.

We have received CPD certification for the following courses:

Social Media Strategy for Business 17 CPD Credits

Our social media strategy for business online course will teach you how social media can be used in your business effectively. It will ensure that you use the correct tools and interact with the appropriate audience for your business. By the end of the online course, you will have created a social media strategy, a social media policy and a content plan.

Blogging for Business 19 CPD Credits

Our blogging for business online course will explain in detail what a blog is, what software you can use to create one and how to use that software. You will learn how blogging can be used to promote your brand and attract new business.

Facebook for Business 15 CPD Credits

Facebook is a must-use’ social network for many businesses. With our comprehensive Facebook for business online course, you will learn how to use Facebook, why to use Facebook to reach your audience and what you want to achieve from the social media channel.  You will investigate who your Facebook audience will be, and where to find them as well as what to say on Facebook and how to encourage engagement.

Instagram for Business 5 CPD Credits

Our comprehensive Instagram for business online course will guide you on how you set up your profile and get started on Instagram. You will also learn how you will benefit from using Instagram as a marketing tool for your business. 

LinkedIn for Business 11 CPD Credits

During our LinkedIn for Business online course, you will learn how you can develop and market your personal brand and that of your business using LinkedIn. You will find, contact and engage with important business contacts and potential customers.

Pinterest for Business 10 CPD Credits

Our Pinterest for Business online course will teach you how to use Pinterest and help you to understand why you would want to use Pinterest for marketing your business. You will investigate the type of Pinterest pins to use, what to post, how to link the platform to your website and how to encourage engagement.

Twitter for Business 13 CPD Credits

By completing our Twitter online course you will understand how to use Twitter cost-effectively and time efficiently and how to reach out and communicate with the correct audience for your business. During the course, you will learn how to develop your brand awareness, provide excellent customer service and keep up with your competitors.

Creating Video for Business 19 CPD Credits

By completing our video for business online course you will be able to produce, create, edit, publish and share your professional video at a fraction of the cost of paying for expensive video creation fees. 

Introduction to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) 6 CPD Credits

Our Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation online course helps you to identify relevant keywords for your business and incorporate them into your website and shared content such as blog posts, social media posts. 

WordPress for Websites 15 Credits

Our comprehensive WordPress for websites online course will take you through the features of the WordPress software and the steps you need to create your own website from scratch or to maintain an existing website in-house. You will create a WordPress website complete with blog.

So what are you waiting for? Update your skills and knowledge, get to grips with a new social media / digital marketing channel and help your career development by taking one of our CPD accredited e-Learning courses today.

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Concise Learners – Interview with Joanna Dorrington Brook

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We recently caught up with our former ITQ Social Media Learner; Joanna Dorrington Brook

Joanna, you finished your City & Guilds ITQ Social Media Certificate in November last year, how have things in your career changed since?

Studying for the course helped me get a new job in May last year and I have been able to utilise the skills I learnt on the course within my new role. I have also recently launched a social media management company with my husband called Willow Social Media.

Tell me more about Willow Social Media

After many years of friends and family asking for help with either their own social media accounts or with their businesses social media accounts I decided to set up Willow Social Media.

“I had learnt so much on the ITQ Social Media Certificate that I really feel that I have the necessary skills and experience.”

Willow Social Media by Joanna Dorrington BrookWillow Social Media is a social media management company for individuals and small businesses. We offer professional social media marketing tailored to individual requirements and we offer 2 great package options that will get their social media activity up and running.

We can also offer bespoke packages to suit individual needs along with special training packages to take you through setting up and maintaining your accounts, using social media management tools, monitoring brand chatter and reputation monitoring and management.

What are your aims for 2017?

My main aim is to continue to grow the customer base for Willow Social Media. I am also currently working on the website for Willow Social Media and I hope that will be live in the coming week. I hope to continue to implement my learning from the City & Guilds ITQ Social Media Certificate.

You can contact Joanna

M: 07527181215

E: dorringtonbrook@live.co.uk

F: @Willowsmmarketing

T: @Willowsocialme

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Concise Learners – Interview with Roxanne Lawrence

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In the latest of our interviews with past Concise learners, we catch up with Roxanne Lawrence.

You completed our Diploma in Social Media around 6 months ago. What have you been up to since?

I spent the first few months after finishing figuring out what I needed to do to build my confidence. I know I completed the course, but I still felt I needed more confidence to be able to sell my services. I have 3 children – aged 11 months, 1 ½ years and 6 years old and enjoyed spending some time relaxing with them and letting what I had learnt sink in.

I then started looking at jobs and realised that I really would be able to achieve my ambition of earning money and still being able to work around my children. I updated my profile on LinkedIn and applied for a part-time social media content manager role which I got. I was then headhunted through my network and have just got an additional part time role working for a new brand – We Grow Daily. I am initially creating the social media strategy and policy for them and then will implement the strategy. I have realised that I just know the right things to include in the strategy – because of the course. I hadn’t realised quite how much I had picked up! I’ve also been contacted by a recruitment company – due to having the qualification. I really can now build a career as a social media strategy consultant as well as training people to use social media.

Doing the course has opened up these doors – 100%”

Do you remember why you took our course?

There were a number of reasons.

  • I wanted a recognised qualification. People have heard of ‘City & Guilds’ so it makes it more credible on my CV. There are lots of social media diplomas out there – but they are just names rather than an accredited qualification.
  • I also wanted to know how to do social media for business properly. People think it is easy, but I wanted to have the underlying business aspects of social media. I felt it would offer more flexible opportunities to have a career.
  • I liked the detail of the course. It seemed like it would give me a lot of information.
  • I felt that I could get it done – even though I was pregnant with my third child. This turned out to be correct, My tutor, Di, was very accommodating and helped me get the course finished – even if slightly late and ensured I still had access to the e-learning for a couple of months after the course.

What are your business / personal aims for 2017?

I want to build the brand of Grow Daily which is an online portal bringing together inspirational videos, books, podcasts into one place to help people develop both personally and in business. I also want to build upon what I learnt in the course to see it in action.

You can contact Roxanne

Roxanne Lawrence

E: roxannelawrence@adeptsocial.com

W: www.growdaily.co.uk

T: 07940 707783

T: @WeGrowDaily

L: @glamroxanne

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Concise Learners – Interview with Lucy Khan

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The next part of our interviews with some of our past learners is with Lucy Khan.

Do you remember why you took our course?

I had spent 20 years as a graphics designer and 8 years as an energy assessor and wanted a new challenge. As a single parent, I needed something that would offer me flexibility with options for working at home as well as working in an office so decided to look into social media marketing. I could see that there were loads of businesses wanting people to do their social media marketing and I wanted to be a part of it. However, I realised that if I was going to do it, I needed to learn how to do it properly so I started to look for a distance learning course that would give me an accredited qualification and one that went into reasonable depth on how to use the channels. Your Diploma in Social Media for Business suited my requirements perfectly. I had an existing business – GoArty – a paint your own pottery business, which I could use to provide my evidence.

You started our Diploma in Social Media around a year ago. What have you been up to since?

I started the course around March 2016 and applied for a social media marketing job in a marketing agency in September 2016. Part of the reason I got the role was the fact that I was doing the qualification. It was a part-time job with great flexibility but I soon realised that sitting at a desk in an office just wasn’t for me anymore. I had been mobile as an energy assessor moving around buildings and going from client to client, and I found that sitting at a desk had a detrimental effect on my body and realised I needed to think again.

I continued to run GoArty while I considered what I wanted to do – and identified that I needed something which would give me repeat business, allow me to develop relationships with my clients, can move with me if I decide to relocate and allows me to physically move throughout my day. Pilates was the obvious solution – something that I love doing myself – and I am now just about to finish my Pilates qualification. I already run a couple of classes and look forward to expanding my classes in the future.

How has the course helped you grow as a business?

The course has given me knowledge and confidence to use the full range of social media channels as well as YouTube, blogging etc. It has helped me be selective in the channels I have used and be more focused and be confident that I am making the right choices.

“I now know the value of what I’m posting which means I’m writing more effectively”.

Even though I eventually decided not to manage social media for others – it did help me get that original job. Now, most of my Pilates clients have come through social media. I’ve no doubt that I have learnt a life skill that will always help me grow my own business.

What are your business / personal aims for 2017

I would like to build my Pilates business – increase the number of classes (through the use of social media of course). I might also look at taking further Pilates qualifications.

You can contact Lucy

Lucy Pilates

E: lucy.khan@live.com

W: www.lucy-pilates.co.uk

T: 01295 266804

T: @LucyPilatesKhan

F: @PilatesLucy

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Concise Learners – Interview with Christine Rayner

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In our latest interview with past learners of Concise Training, we catch up with Christine Rayner.

Christine, you finished your City & Guilds ITQ Social Media Certificate in April 2013, how has your business grown since?

I have two businesses:

  1. Tangram Marketing. As a marketing consultant since 1997, I was based in traditional marketing.  Doing the social media course gave me the knowledge and confidence to expand the business so I could offer good social media and digital marketing advice as part of the marketing solution. The course opened my eyes to the variety of social media channels available and made me think carefully about how and why a business should select a particular channel based on their audience.
  2. The Late Breakfast is a networking group in Oxfordshire.  Before the course, The Late Breakfast was using social media, but it was very scrappy.  What I learnt from the course made us more structured, consistent and more successful.

“I can’t imagine where the businesses would be now, without the course – we certainly wouldn’t have grown as we have”.

Tell me more about Tangram Marketing.

Tangram Marketing’s ideal client is small, owner-occupied businesses with less than 20 employees. The owner has to buy into the need for marketing – both financially and personally as, particularly if they want to use social media, they will have to be prepared to allow followers to know the people behind the brand.

Ideally, I will work as a regular, ongoing part of the business.  I will always start by putting together a strategic marketing plan (could be 1 page or more) and will either implement the plan myself or manage the implementation. I like to be involved in the implementation to start with as it allows me to get to know the client base and makes me more informed about the audience. I will then often train internal staff or use trusted associates to continue the implementation.

Can you remember why you chose our course?

Well, of course, I knew Mary through networking. I was confident Mary would provide me with a supportive learning environment which would help with the fear factor – it was scary getting back into learning as well as learning something new! I realised it would be challenging, but I knew I could complete the course in the right sort of learning setting.

So 2017 – what are your aims for this year?

I want to build on the digital marketing / social media services and support I provide. I can see a great need for it and I am being approached more and more for help.

Contact Details

You can contact Christine:

E: christine@tangram.ltd.uk

W: www.tangram.ltd.uk

M: 07968 957977

T: 0118 952 6992

W: www.thelatebreakfast.co.uk

T: @latebreakfast

L: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-late-breakfast

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Concise Learners – Interview with Caroline Ward

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Our third interview with one of our former learners, Caroline Ward.

You completed our ITQ Social Media Certificate around a year ago. How has your role changed since?

In addition to my existing role in the business, I have taken on the role of managing our social media platforms – particularly Twitter which is proving to be very successful for us and appeals to our audience. We do have a presence on Facebook but we don’t get so much engagement on this channel. We have found that more people are coming to our events because of what they see on Twitter. This year we are confident to double attendance from last year at our main event which takes place later in the year.

Do you remember why you took our course? How has it helped you grow as a business /person?

Taking the course has given me the confidence to use the platforms – knowing what to say, how to say and when and why to include hashtags. Because the course covered so much, it has generally given me more confidence to be online and try other technology.

I’ve also improved my personal network with partners but also in general, through the better and more confident use of LinkedIn. Although I don’t post as often as I should, when I do post, I can see that I get views – so I can see my personal profile building.

On a separate note, the course has made me more aware of the security issues around being online and I have been able to share what I have learnt with my family.

I liked the courses because they didn’t assume knowledge but built up skills and knowledge in a step by step way, giving informative and detailed information.

What are your business / personal aims for 2017

2017 will be business as usual for the business. We want to continue to grow awareness, increase our followers and promote events. We will also be sharing messages about our new cloud platforms which we are expecting to attract a different set of follows.

Caroline Ward can be contacted:

e:   caroline.ward@autodesk.com

w:   http://forge.autodesk.com and www.autodesk.com/adn

m:   +971 50 656 9027

t:   @ADNCarolineWard

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Can You Bulk Schedule Tweets for Free?

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Schedule Tweets in Bulk for Free

We have been huge fans of Hootsuite here at Concise for a long time because it offers a good blend of functionality without breaking the bank. Perhaps the most useful feature for a business looking to manage its social media accounts is the ability to bulk schedule social media posts in advance by uploading a CSV file. Nowhere is this more important than with Twitter where posts are shorter and a greater volume is required. Hootsuite has several different membership options:

  • Free account
  • Pro account – from £7.99 per month
  • Team account – from £27.99 per month per user
  • Business account – from £69.99 per month per user
  • Enterprise account – Bespoke pricing

The bulk scheduling of tweets was always available on all but the free account and for a reasonable fee of £8 or £9 a month you got access to the ability to forward schedule up to 350 tweets. It was brought to our attention recently that this is no longer the case. It appears that in a change of policy, Hootsuite now only offer bulk scheduling to those that sign up for a team account which costs £27.99 a month per team member minimum. In response to finding this out, we quickly checked existing free, pro and team accounts that we have access to and discovered in these that the features available were as they were and what we would expect to see but the Hootsuite website does indeed suggest that bulk scheduling has been withdrawn from the pro account feature list:

hootsuite prices

Surprised by this move we did a quick check comparing Hootsuite to its competitors and sure enough, for new accounts, you must fork out around US$35 a month in order to get access to bulk scheduling. Thinking about it, this could well be a reaction to changes in the way that Twitter allows apps to work with it. With the closing down of Twitter Dashboard which offered businesses some basic twitter management functions, we would not be surprised to see things like bulk scheduling incorporated into the native twitter app soon.

Because many people want to use this time-saving feature but can’t afford to shell out so much of their hard-earned cash on it, we have collated below some cheaper alternatives to Hootsuite and its competitors that offer bulk scheduling of Tweets:

Buffer – need free account + https://www.bulkbuffer.com/  – although a workaround using the add-on service bulkbuffer, you can use this to bulk schedule for free.

twittimer.com – pro plan needed for bulk scheduling $5.41 per month

twuffer.com  – $5.99 a month for bulk scheduling

We have not used these services ourselves so cannot vouch for how well they work but they all state that they offer bulk scheduling on Twitter for a low monthly fee and appear to be nice and straight forward to use.

Let us know if you have used any of the above and what you think about them or their alternatives.

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The New LinkedIn – How do you use it?

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Our latest blog explores how to use the new LinkedIn.

Have you got the new version of LinkedIn yet? It seems to be rolling out on a fairly random basis. At a recent workshop I delivered, I didn’t have the new version but most of the attendees did.  It is almost like LinkedIn are delaying moving some of the larger more complete profiles perhaps they are having problems. 😀

Anyway, I have found an empty profile that I can use to show those of you that have it how to use the main parts of the new version.  I suspect they are still making some changes so we won’t be covering it in too much detail.

The new simplified version of LinkedIn (designed to align with the mobile app) looks very much like Facebook.  On the Home Page, your profile sits top right.  The Newsfeed is in the middle below the entry box for status updates.  On the right, there will be a new section called What you need to know now’ (trending topics) depending on what your contacts are doing or saying (I haven’t seen this on any home pages yet).  Below this is an ad card.

The ad cards on the new LinkedIn are really easy to navigate.

On the top, there are 8 areas on the menu bar.

  • Search
  • Home
  • My Network
  • Jobs
  • Messaging
  • Notifications
  • Me
  • More

Looking at each of these in turn (from a changes perspective):

Search

Search has been updated to one search box to cover people, jobs, companies, groups and schools (searching posts coming soon). 

The search function of the new LinkedIn has been updated. You will eventually be able to search for posts.

Choosing all results shows the specific types of search

The specific searches of the new LinkedIn are shown in this image. You can search by people, jobs, companies, groups and schools.

Choosing one of these options shows the filters on the right-hand side of search (they were on the left before).

The filters, which were previously on the left before have now been positioned on the right on the new LinkedIn

The search results don’t seem to be displaying in order of closest connection as they used to.   According to LinkedIn, the ranking is dependent on relevancy of ranking to the searcher”.  This will include keywords, the searcher’s profile and attributes and the activity of the profiles returned.

Boolean search doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to this seems to be moving to the paid version of Sales Navigator.

Home

There are a number of sections on the Home page:

  • On the left-hand side of the Home page, you can 
    • Update your profile (see later)
    • Grow your network (we don’t recommend entering your email address)
    • See who has viewed your profile (much like before)
    • See who has viewed your updates
  • Share an article, photo or update. 

You can easily share a photo or article easily on the new LinkedIn

Clicking on share an article, photo or update allows you to write a short update, mention somebody using @, or add a photo. You can now edit your post which is a big improvement!

You are now able to edit your post via the new LinkedIn, which is a huge improvement.

Click Write an Article to write a long form article.  This is similar to before.  The cover photo at the top of the article seems to be less restrictive and more flexible in managing different sized images but the uploaded image will need to be landscape

The newsfeed has been tuned so you see content from publishers and people you care about. New ways to dive into specific topics relevant to you and follow trending stories” will be rolling out.

Update your profile

This has generally been made easier to use.  The main changes:

  • The background photo is now 1536 x 768 pixels (narrower)
  • The profile picture is circular
  • Contact information (email, website, phone etc) is on the right-hand side of this section.
  • Photo / Headline / Summary are all changed within the top section.  Only the first two lines of your summary will be seen by default so these need to be carefully crafted.

Updating your profile has a new look on the new LinkedIn.

  • Clicking Views of your share will show how many people have viewed your posts and updates.  You can see more about who is reading and engaging with your content (company, job title, location)
  • On the right-hand side, there are certain extra sections you can add to your profile. However certain sections like Interests’, Advice for Contacting’ and Causes’ seem to have been removed as Sections for new profiles.

You can add new sections to your profile on the new LinkedIn. It is a more simplified layout.

  • It is not possible to reorder the sections in your profile.
  • When you update your profile, changes don’t get sent to your network in general.  No need to remember to change the setting!  For specific sections, e.g. skills you have the option to change the setting for that section.

You can add your list of skills in the new LinkedIn.

Highlights

When you look at someone’s profiles, you will see a new Highlights” section just under the 2 line summary.  This will show any mutual connections, companies you have both worked at, groups you are both members of or how they can help with an introduction into companies.

My Network

Will display all outstanding invitations, all your connections as well as people you may know.  All tags (if you used them) have been removed and you can only sort by recently added, first name and last name.

Jobs

This hasn’t changed significantly at the moment

Messaging

Options to message connections will be seen throughout LinkedIn and LinkedIn will offer more suggestions to message based on what you are doing within LinkedIn.  For example, if you are looking at a job opportunity, you will be told who in your network works in the company.  

LinkedIn will also frequently suggest what you might want to say to somebody as a conversation opener.

Remember you will now see sponsored messages from companies (including LinkedIn).

In your messages you will now see sponsored messages from companies, which include LinkedIn.

Notifications

Notifications will show what your contacts have been doing as well as who has viewed your profile as before.

Me

Another way of getting to your profile as well as viewing your privacy & settings.

You can access your profile and your privacy and settings by clicking on 'Me'.

The privacy and settings section had already been changed. See our blog post about this.

More

The More section will change and develop depending on what you have access to on LinkedIn.

The 'More' section is where you will access a Company profile on the new LinkedIn.

The More is where you will access your company profile (which also uses the new Cover page size).  Changes to the company profile section will be covered in a separate blog post.  We will also do a separate post for Profinder and Lookup which are new apps that are now in the UK.

Over to You

What do you think of the changes if you have them?  Do you like the new look or do you just hate change?  Are there any features that you think are missing?  We are just about to add a section to our latest LinkedIn e-learning course to cover this in more detail.

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Concise Learners – Interview with James Stevenson

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CT Learner James Stevenson

James, you finished your social media and digital marketing apprenticeship in Sept 2016. As part of your apprenticeship, you took our Diploma in Social Media for Business. You were working with Global Knowledge at the time, how has your role changed since?

Global Knowledge sells IT courses with over 40 training centres in 12 countries and offering 1000 courses. The courses offered are customer focused to ensure effective, convenient training supported by responsive customer service.

I am still working in digital marketing with Global Knowledge, but after I finished my apprenticeship, I moved to the UK side of things (I was working on EMEA – Europe, Middle East and Asia). My role is within the team focused on the website – maintaining the Content Management System (CMS), looking at Google Analytics and making changes for search engine optimisation. I also do a little pay per click optimisation. I have more responsibility now and slightly more focus.

How did the course you did with Concise Training help during your apprenticeship?

Because we applied our learning through practice with Concise Training, it gave me the confidence to make and suggest changes in real life situations.

What are your business goals for 2017?

During 2017, I am going to be part of the Global Knowledge team who are going to migrate to a mobile optimised solution for our 14 websites (UK and EMEA). I would like to continue to be involved in large projects and take on more responsibility.

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Concise Learners – Interview with Anna Marsden

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Anna Marsden completed our ITQ social media certificate in 2013. In this interview we catch up with her and see how her business has changed since completion.

You completed our ITQ Social Media Certificate at the end of 2013. I believe you and your wife had just set up Social I Media at the time. How has business changed for you since?

Wow! We have changed a lot since then. We started Social I Media as a way of working using our skill set and doing what we enjoyed – Anna, my wife is a journalist and brilliant at writing. My skill set was around training and digital communications. Over the past 4 years, we have focused more on communications generally rather than marketing specifically. We feel we are communicators with knowledge of digital marketing rather than marketers.

During 2016, we took the plunge to rebrand to Luminescence– Brighter Communications.   We write quality content for professional services – mainly, but not exclusively aimed at the B2B market. We work closely with businesses to:

  • Create strategies – for communications in general, for PR, for content or social media marketing
  • Create and/or copy edit content. This might be online or offline content of all forms including visual, audio and written and includes white papers, researched articles, campaigns and more. We are using the digital knowledge we have to ensure we create content that people will read and engage with.
  • Manage PR. We create exposure and manage reputations of businesses on a regular basis.
  • Training – We deliver bespoke training for specific clients and specific industries across communication disciplines. We deliver training in a number of digital areas including search engine optimisation, digital marketing, social media, public speaking, crisis communication and more.

From a business growth point of view, we now work with a number of associates – journalists, researchers, PR and content specialists as the clients we are working with have increased in size and quantity.

We won our first award during 2016 too. The CIPR Pride Awards Gold – it was a good year all in all!

Do you remember why you took our course? How has it helped you grow as a business /person?

I originally took your course as I wanted external validation as a social media / digital expert. Your course was the only one accredited and I realised how important that was – as opposed to getting a branded certificate. I enjoyed the course as it forces you to evidence what you are learning – you don’t just get a piece of paper.

After taking the course, I was paid back many times over. I created the social I media website as part of the course (so didn’t need to pay for that). In addition, 1 website page which was optimised based on what I learnt during the course sent enough work our way, to pay for the course 5 times over!

We also won work because I could use the digital knowledge I gained when writing in bids – and could evidence the skills.

“Never a day goes by without me being grateful I did the ITQ in Social Media”.

What are your business / personal aims for 2017

Now we have gone through the rebranding exercise, Luminescence needs to push on and identify additional work which fits into the professional services communications arena. Personally, I intend to focus on growing the training arm of the business, delivering bespoke training but also working with trusted associates to deliver short easy to understand modules in digital communications and content distribution for specific industries.

Thank you for your time Anna and I’m delighted to see how much your business has developed since first working with you.

Anna Marsden can be contacted via

M: 07984 638586

T: 01223 850359

E: Anna.Marsden@WeAreLuminescence.com

W: WeAreLuminescence.com

T: @HiLuminescence

L: Luminescence Communications Ltd

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Facebook Lead Generation Ads – Should you use them?

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Facebook Lead Generation Ads - Should you use them? Our latest blog looks at how to use Lead Generation on Facebook.

Have you tried running a lead generation ad on Facebook?  Lead generation ads are an alternative to running a website conversion ad which goes to a lead page for visitors to sign up for more information or to download a piece of content. The advantage of lead generation ads is visitors stay within Facebook and information is automatically populated by Facebook.

We have a Facebook Lead Generation Ad running at the moment to attract leads for the next running of our Diploma in Social Media for Business course:

Step 1 The ad seen is:

Facebook Lead Generation Ads - Should you use them? The ad is shown with a 'call to action' called 'Learn More'. The call to action can be tailored to you.

Clicking Learn More will show

Facebook Lead Generation Ads - Should you use them? After a user has clicked the call to action they are directed to where the call to action is pointing. In this instance 'Learn More' provides more information.

As you can see, this gives the opportunity for the business to give more information about the benefits of what you are offering.

Clicking Send Me More Information (you can choose what the button text says) will display:

Facebook Lead Generation Ads - Should you use them? The next page you see allows us to have another call to action. In this example 'Send me more information' is the call to action.

You need to include on this screen the URL to your a privacy policy on your website.  You can choose what fields you would like prospects to complete in this form.  Email and Full Name are automatically completed by Facebook based on viewer’s settings (which may not be correct). The trick is to make this as easy as possible for prospects to complete, so it is probably not a good idea to include too many fields.

Clicking Submit will show

Facebook Lead Generation Ads - Should you use them? After the user has clicked submit on the form, they will then see a bespoke message.

It is not possible to add URLs to this text or to change the View Website’ text.

Leads are available to download within the Facebook Ads manager.  This is either done manually or you can automatically link the form to a CRM System (e.g. MailChimp) so an email is automatically sent.  This is currently done through Zapier but is a premium Zapier option so would be an additional cost. 

We have opted for the manual download option as we want to send a personal email to people interested in the qualification but if you were asking people to download a document, you would really need to set this up to happen automatically so that the download was instantly available.

This works much better if a lead page is set up and the website conversion ads are used. Whether the lead page is set up on your website or using one of the third-party lead generation tools, you can normally send an automated email pretty easily.

To me, the advantage of a Facebook lead generation ad is that it is quick and easy for prospects to leave their contact details particularly on a mobile phone.  Once you have those contact details, you can then use other methods to market to them.

At first glance, the cost of the lead ad looks significantly more expensive than the cost of a website conversion ad.  However, it is worth looking closely at the numbers and it might be worth doing some split testing.  

For example, you can normally expect to pay between £0.30 and £0.75 per click for the conversion ad.  Note, this is per click.  You then need to get people to sign up on your lead page. Assuming a 5% conversion rate on the lead page, if your ad was clicked by 100 people.  It would cost between £30 and £75 for 5 leads.  The lead ad is working out between £5 and £10 per lead so between £25 and £50 for 5 leads slightly cheaper in this case.

Have you had any success with lead generation ads?  Do share.

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Home based working – Is it for you?

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Is Home based working for you? Our latest blog explores the pros and cons of working from home.

The New Year is often a time to think about where your life is going both personally and in your career.  If you managed to get a break over the festive period, this week is often the time when you go back to work and wonder if you wouldn’t be better doing something else.

Home based working is a real option these days and allows you to take a more flexible approach to your career.  You might be able to negotiate some work from home days in your current job or perhaps you want to think about a complete career change?

In the last 8 years, I have been running Concise Training, I have met some amazing people doing some interesting jobs, based from home and perhaps, more importantly, working the hours they want to work.  I have met coaches, trainers, accountants, HR Managers, software developers and of course website developers and marketers who have all been based at home, working flexible hours.

Only yesterday, I met a lady based in Swansea who looks after dogs walking, home boarding and home visits.  She has grown her business over the past 2 years, is very busy and loving her job. 

In my own business, we have a flexible business model my employees work from home they have set hours but the nature of the business is that there is some flexibility within that. Doctor’s appointments, children’s school plays or builders have all meant over the past year that individuals have been able to take time away from the business during the set hours and make up the time later.  A win / win for everybody.

Personally, I find the advantages of home based working are massive:

  • I set up my business to be able to work around my children, so I could have a conversation with them when they got home from school (or now, phone from University), or take time out when they needed to go places.  
  • I can walk my dog during the day good for me and the dog and make up any time outside traditional working hours.
  • I keep my overheads low, so can pass that saving on to clients
  • I can work from anywhere.  At the moment, I’m working from Swansea rather than my home in Faringdon but there is no difference from the point of view of my clients or team.
  • As I travel to clients to deliver bespoke training or consultancy I can work anywhere in the UK (or world)

However, home based working isn’t for everybody before you start, think about:

  • Can you be disciplined?
    • Have set hours you work and keep to them.  This might avoid the oh I’ll just finish this one more task’ syndrome and allow you to switch off.  
    • Create a work environment that you can shut the door on.
    • Don’t check your email outside work hours all too easy now email is accessible on a mobile phone.
  • Are you self-motivated?  When you are working, you are meant to be working not cooking, cleaning or ironing.  
  • Do you have plans to get out and talk to others?  Use Skype and phone to talk to your clients and others in your team.  Get out to networking meetings, yes to market your business, but also to have relevant conversations with others.

I know some people prefer to actually have a nearby office to go to each day perhaps at a local business centre to separate home from work.  as well as have the option to talk to others. 

This is all possible because of the changes in the last few years in both the Internet and more importantly the changes in social media / digital marketing.  At the end of the day, you still need to find clients and market your business one of the ways of doing this is via social networking. 

Is home based working for you? You need to be disciplined but it can allow you to have the perfect work and life balance.I found my dog walker in Swansea via Facebook she has an active account, regularly posting pictures of happy dogs on the walks.  My own business would not survive without the Internet and obviously, we would not have a business without social/digital marketing. 

Whatever the business, the Internet and digital marketing in some form have become essential to announce you are open for business.  In fact, digital/social media marketing is now a career in its own right there are currently 3,741 digital marketing jobs and 491 social media marketing jobs advertised on LinkedIn in the UK. Clearly, not all of these jobs are home based, but I was pleased to see this Digital Operations job was advertised as a home based role.

In reality, many businesses are struggling to use social media / digital marketing correctly to get a return on investment and are looking for help.  Many of the learners who have done our social media and digital marketing City & Guilds qualifications have set up their own consultancy business working from home to offer this help.  We will be sharing their stories in our blog during 2017.   If this is something that appeals to you, why not look into our 12 month Diploma in Social media for Business starting on 10th Feb or our Diploma in Digital Marketing starting on 17th March.

What are your experiences of home working?  Do share.

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Facebook Templates

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Facebook Templates Blog.

Facebook are rolling out a change which means you can choose how your page will appear to your visitors based on what you are using it for.  Facebook templates seem to be rolling out in a fairly random way.  To find out whether your page has them, you need to manually check.

To see the new Facebook templates, click Settings on the top right of your page.

In this image it shows the top of a Facebook profile where you will access settings.

Then click Edit page.

If you have the new settings, you will be able to choose Templates.

This image shows how the new settings will appear. This will determine whether you are able to currently access the new Facebook templates.

There are a number of pre-made templates including

  • Standard
  • Shopping
  • Venues
  • Gaming
  • Politicians
  • Professional Services
  • Restaurants & Cafes

Each template shows different default tabs along the side of the Page page and different buttons under the Cover Photo. The layouts might also affect what is shown in the middle column you could show videos or events at the top.  We have noticed that it wasn’t until we chose the Shop template that we got the option to create a shop tab on one of the pages we are managing.

Standard

Toolbar Buttons Like, Follow, Message, Share 

Tabs Home, Posts, Videos, Photos, About, Likes

This image shows the standard Facebook Template

Shopping

Buttons Like, Follow, Message, Share

Tabs Home, Posts, Photos, Shop, Reviews, Videos, Events, About, Likes

This image shows the Facebook template for shopping.

Venues

Call to Action Learn More

Buttons Like, Follow, Message, Share

Tabs Home, Events, About, Videos, Photos, Reviews, Posts, Likes

This image shows how the Facebook Template for venues looks.

Gaming

Buttons Like, Follow, Message Share

Tabs Home, About, Videos, Photos, Likes, Posts, Reviews

This image shows the standard Facebook Template

Politicians

Call to Action Send Message

Buttons Like, Follow, Message, Share

Tabs Home, About, Videos, Posts, Events, Notes, Photos, Likes

This image shows the Politicians Facebook template.

Professional Services

Call to Action Call Now

Buttons Like, Follow, Message, Share

Tabs Home, Services, Shop, Reviews, Photos, Videos, Posts, Events, About, Likes

This image shows the Facebook Template for professional services.

Restaurants & Cafes

Call to Action Call Now

Buttons Like, Follow, Message, Share

Tabs Home, Photos, Reviews, Posts, Videos, Events, About, Likes

This final image shows how the Facebook template for Restaurants and cafes will appear.

Once you have chosen a template, the tabs and buttons will automatically change.  However, you can still reorder the tabs.  It is interesting to note that at the moment the buttons are all the same.  Perhaps this will change in time.

What do you think?  Have you implemented a template?

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How to like a page post as yourself if you are administrator – Nov 16 Change

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The way you like a page post as an administrator has been changed via Facebook. Our latest blog looks at the change.

So Facebook is rolling out another functionality change when nobody was watching. If you are an administrator on a page, you sometimes want to like a post as yourself, not the page.  To do this on the desktop, click on the drop down at the bottom of the post.How to like a post as yourself if you are an administrator has been changed by Facebook.

The next display will depend whether the change has been rolled out to your page.  On some newer pages I manage, we see the following screenHow to like a page post as yourself if you are an administrator has been changed. The image shows how the option my appear to some users who's Facebook business page has been updated to the new appearance.

Clicking the back arrow at the top left (circled), show you

How to like a page post as yourself if you are an administrator has now changed. The image shows the pages that Mary manages. Mary would select which page she wishes to like and comment as.

You can then select to post or comment as yourself or another page.

On older pages, you will not see the middle screen.

Note: you can’t post as yourself using either the Facebook or Pages app (at the moment!)

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Do you have a Facebook shop?

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Facebook Shop has begun to slowly roll out in the UK. Our latest blog explores the benefits and features of listing your products and services on Facebook.

The ongoing evolution of Facebook continues as it starts to slowly roll out a new shop feature to business pages. This is building on the idea of Facebook wanting users to remain within Facebook regardless of what they want to do online.

A few months ago Facebook updated the look of business pages so that they operated more like a website (read our blog on this here). The introduction of a fully integrated shop is not, therefore, a surprise and in fact, so far, it seems a really promising development.

To be able to set up your shop your business page needs to have been given the added functionality. If you have a ‘shop’ tab on your page then you need to click it, agree to the terms and conditions and start adding products. If you don’t have a ‘shop’ tab then don’t worry, they are continually being added – but it does seem to be quite random.  A brand new page may be given the functionality before existing pages!

Here is how the Facebook Shop will show on your Facebook Business Page.

How to set up your Facebook shop

Once you have agreed to Facebook’s Merchant Terms and Policies, you will be able to begin adding products to your store. 

You can have up to 10 products in a featured section, which appears at the top of your shop page. Any product in the featured section will appear larger with 2 products highlighted. The viewer can then scroll through all 10 products whilst remaining within Facebook.  Note 3 products are shown at the top of the Facebook page (as opposed to the shop section).

This is how your Facebook Shop featured products will appear on your Facebook Business Page.

To begin adding products to your shop click ‘Add Product’ this will open a window, which will allow you to start to list a product.

Adding a product to your Facebook Shop is easily completed by filling in the relevant information on the product info screen.

Here you add the name of your product, the price, a description, the URL link to your website and whether you wish this product to appear in your 10-featured listings.

You will need to add an image at this point. Your image will need to fully represent the product, have very little text and be a minimum size of 1024 x 1024 pixels. You can read more about Facebook’s shop guidelines here.

Once you are happy with your product listing, save it. Repeat these steps to list any products that you wish to appear on your Facebook Shop page. Below is how our courses look on our Facebook Shop page.

Your products are displayed in your Facebook Shop with the option to edit and share. Sharing is useful if you have a promotion on a particular product or you wish to showcase a product.

Once you have added all your products, your shop will be accessible for anyone who visits your Facebook Business Page. A really good feature is that you are able to share individual products to your Business Page timeline or your own personal timeline. This is a useful addition if you want to promote a certain product or if you are reducing the cost due to a special offer.

The image takes prime position on your products listed in your Facebook Shop.

Will Facebook Shop be useful for your business? Let us know your thoughts.

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Can Facebook work in the workplace?

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Can Facebook work in the workplace?

It’s no secret that Facebook have been working with various companies over the past few years to create a work-based platform of its social media channel. Recently, on a fine autumn day in London, Facebook finally unveiled Facebook Workplace to the world.

The first thing worth mentioning is that Facebook Workplace is a completely separate entity to Facebook. Users will need to create a new login and profile solely for use in the workplace. This tackles the issue for companies where their employees may be distracted at work by notifications from their personal profile. Facebook Workplace will help reinforce brand values and provide a method of communication which is familiar to its employees thus offering transparency within the organisation.

Facebook have recently launched Facebook Workplace. This image shows how the new channel will display on smartphones.

The principal behind Facebook Workplace is to keep you connected with your coworkers, rather like Facebook keeps you connected to your friends and family. You will be able to share images, videos, status updates etc.  ‘Live’ will play a huge part in the Workplace experience with the possibility for users to broadcast seminars, meetings, presentations to employees all over the world.

There are new features that have been specifically designed with businesses in mind.

  • Multi Company Groups – This provides a shared space for employees from different organisations to work together and collaborate in a safe and secure way.
  • Dashboard with analytics
  • Integration with Windows, Ping, OneLogin, Okta, G Suite and Azure AD.
  • Single sign-on (SSO)

Facebook are marketing Workplace to businesses as a replacement, or upgrade, on existing bespoke intranet systems, or to companies who are looking for more than just email and telephone communication.  It is being marketed as an alternative to Yammer or Slack.

What’s the catch?

The main difference between Facebook and Facebook Workplace is the cost. After a free 3-month trial companies will have to pay if they wish to continue using Workplace. The pricing is structured on the number of employees a business wants to have as Workplace users. Companies with up to 1000 users will pay $3 per active user. 1001 to 10,000 users will cost $2 per active user and upwards of 10,001 users will cost $1 per active user. However, businesses are not tied into a long-term contract.

Educational institutions and Non-profit organisations will be able to access Facebook Workplace for free. If you are charity, I would recommend you investigate using Facebook Workplace to make communication more effective and cut down on emails.

Will Facebook Workplace be successful?

Although Facebook has been trialling a version of Workplace for a few years it remains to be seen if the platform will become an instant success with businesses. Will businesses be convinced to replace their existing system with Facebook Workplace?

I was talking to a business only yesterday who were currently trialling the use of Yammer but think Facebook Workplace might be better for them as the training needs would reduce considerably as most of the staff already know how to use Facebook.

You can read Facebook’s announcement about Facebook Workplace here.

If you are a business that is going to try Facebook Workplace we would love to hear from you.

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Can you see social media marketing tactics in the “real world”?

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Can you see social media marketing tactics in the “real world” ?

I recently returned from a trip to the USA. During this trip, I saw many fantastic sights and had some amazing experiences. I also had a less than amazing experience on the way home due to the failure of British Airways’ check-in and baggage systems – but that is another story and perhaps another blog post about contingency planning. There is one particular experience from my trip that I wish to share with you here because part way through a conversation with a shop owner, I realised that I was experiencing the physical embodiment of what makes for good social media marketing.

I will explain…

My wife and I were visiting Glacier National Park in the north of the USA – a fantastic wilderness of stunning scenery and wildlife (well worth a visit). We had been on a sightseeing boat trip and having returned a few minutes earlier than expected we decided to pop into a gift shop to kill a bit of time. We had no real desire (or intention) to purchase anything but were simply passing by and thought we would drop in to while away a few minutes before getting some lunch. The conversation that we then had with the shop owner was a perfect example of how to carry out good social media engagement even though this was a real life scenario. It went something like this:

(shop owner dialogue is green, mine is blue and my comments are RED)

On entering the shop we were greeted by a warm and friendly smile from a well-presented lady who looked very relaxed, content and happy to be of service. – FIRST IMPRESSIONS WERE GOOD (IN A SIMILAR WAY TO A GOOD PROFILE PICTURE).

The lady lived up to these first impressions with a friendly opening gambit:

“Hi guys, how are you today?”USE OF A QUESTION TO IMMEDIATELY ILLICIT A RESPONSE FROM US – ENCOURAGING ENGAGEMENT

“Very good thanks, you?” was my reply.

“Oh, I love your accent! Where are you guys from?” ANOTHER QUESTION SHOWING INTEREST IN THE POTENTIAL CUSTOMER

“Newcastle, North East England. Do you know it?”

“Not that area but I have been to England a few times, I have relatives in Norfolk. Have you been there?”A POTENTIAL STUMBLE HERE WITH A CLOSED QUESTION

“Yes we have been to the area a few times but it is quite far (by UK standards) from us and it takes a long time to drive there.”

“So when you say it takes a long time to drive there…?”SPOTTING AN OPPORTUNITY TO KEEP THE ENGAGEMENT GOING

“Oh I don’t know, maybe 5 or 6 hours depending on traffic”

“Really?! That long? You don’t think of car journeys in England taking that long because it is such a small country. We have to drive everywhere up here, we are used to driving for hours to visit a particular shop or go see friends…”

“Yes but you don’t have the same traffic problems here that we have back home…there are more than 65 million people crammed onto our small island. Driving out here is much easier.”

“Do you have a car here? Have you come far?”GETTING MORE INFORMATION FROM POTENTIAL CUSTOMER THAT MIGHT LATER INFORM A SALES OPPORTUNITY

“Yes, we have a hire car. We have driven up from Salt Lake City through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone before arriving here.”

“Oh wow! What a fantastic trip. Where are you heading after this?”NOTICE AT THIS POINT THAT WE ARE IN A SHOP BUT THERE HAS BEEN NO ATTEMPT TO SELL US ANYTHING BUT SHE HAS ESTABLISHED A RAPPORT WITH US BY NOW, WE FEEL COMFORTABLE IN HER COMPANY AND MORE LIKELY TO ASK HER QUESTIONS.

“We are driving up into Canada after this and then going west to Vancouver before we fly home”

“Oh great! Do you like ice cream?…there is a fantastic place just over the border that makes its own ice cream from buffalo milk. I will show you…”AT THIS POINT SHE DIGS UNDER THE COUNTER AND BRINGS UP A MAP SHOWING THE BORDER AND CANADA

“Where are you crossing the border? Chief Mountain?”

“Yes”

“OK, that is good because the crossing there is quick, if you went across to the west coast and tried to cross over north of Seattle it takes hours…make sure that you don’t have any food or drink with you when you go the border crossing because you are not allowed to import it to Canada. Have your passport handy and sometimes they will ask you where you are planning on heading and where you are staying so it can speed things up if you have your itinerary and details of the accommodation that you have booked as well.” VALUE ADDED CONTENT BEING VOLUNTEERED WITHOUT PROMPTING

“Thanks, that is good to know”

At this point, she spins the map around on the counter so that it is facing us. She points out the border crossing and ice cream place, circling them on the map with a pencil.

“Do you know what route you are taking?”SHE HAS SPOTTED HERE AN OPPORTUNITY TO HELP ME WITH A POTENTIAL PROBLEM

“I was thinking of heading up here and then cutting off this corner to make it across to the Trans Canada Highway,” I say as I point to the map with my finger.

“Yes, you could do that but it won’t be any quicker because they are fixing the bridge here,” she says as she marks the map with her pencil “and if you go up this way you could stop here for lunch … try the apple and blueberry pie it’s fantastic …” she then circles a small town just off the road and writes next to it “great pie”.

The conversation went on like this and I soon realised that this woman was a wealth of useful information regarding travel in the surrounding area so I started to pick her brains a bit and due to her valuable advice we changed the route we had planned on taking.

“You may as well take this, I have drawn all over it now,” she said as she handed over the map”MORE VALUE ADDED CONTENT GIVEN FOR FREE

“Thanks! That’s very kind of you.” I say.

So at this point, we have been chatting in this lady’s gift shop for several minutes and we have gained lots of valuable information from her. She hasn’t tried to sell us anything or even prompted us to look around her shop but she has been so helpful that we feel obliged to at least look around. We ended up buying several items in her store spending money that we otherwise would not have spent in there all because of how helpful and friendly this lovely lady has been towards us.

We did indeed follow this lady’s advice when we left Glacier. We whisked through the border crossing in a matter of minutes having all the information requested easily to hand and yes, the apple and blueberry pie was excellent!

I was reflecting on this conversation as we drove west along the Trans Canada Highway towards our night stop in Revelstoke and determined that I would write up a blog post about this experience. That night in Revelstoke, we were having a drink in the hotel bar and got talking to a couple who were driving east having just arrived in Vancouver. It turned out that they were following a route not too dissimilar to that which we had driven but in reverse. They planned on stopping in Calgary and then heading south to cross the border into the USA to visit Glacier and Yellowstone National parks…

“Well, in that case, you should go here” I got the map out at this point “the ice cream here is fantastic and the apple and blueberry pie here is amazing…I don’t need this anymore, why don’t you take it?” I handed the map across to them “it was given to me by a lovely lady in the Glacier Park gift shop here, you should go there, it is a great little shop with loads of locally made arts and crafts …”

It wasn’t until the next day that I realised that what I had done was the physical equivalent of re-posting the value added content that the shop owner had provided us. I even added a ‘comment’ and recommended that they visit her shop.

I like to think that the couple heading south took the time to call into the gift shop and spend some money  … who knows, maybe they even returned the map.

Do share when you have experienced social media tactics working … on or off line.

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Why don’t hospitality businesses use social media for engagement?

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Hospitality and social media

I was talking to Amanda, one of my trusted contacts the other day and she was complaining how few hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses respond to her queries on social media.  In fact – she tweeted about it shortly after – and was kind enough to mention us 🙂

This was Amanda's Tweet in which she mentioned Concise Training in regards to Why don’t hospitality businesses use social media for engagement?

Around the same time, I remembered the study from Sprout Social says about 9 in 10 social media messages sent to brands go ignored!   Of the ones that are answered, the average wait time for an answer is 10 hours.  If the brand does responds, 70% of people are more likely to use a product, 65% are more brand loyal, 25% are less likely to go somewhere else or post negative things and 75% would share the positive experience online.

This got me thinking why don’t hospitality businesses engage?  I’m convinced that it would result in more customers – and that is what hotels and restaurants need isn’t it?

Shortly after, I read how the Marriott’s Hotel chain use social media.  Marriott’s have a set up a social centre where employees look at what people are saying about the brand and respond. 

Marriott’s take this one step further and use geofencing technology to see what people are saying on public platforms within their properties.  If a guest posts about an issue, they reach out to the customer care team to get it sorted.  If guest posts they have just got engaged, customer service may offer them champagne or something else to show they are valued.  This is a fantastic example of a brand listening to their audience and caring what they say and the company has said that this engagement leads directly to hotel bookings.

You might also be interested in our recent post about how football clubs are engaging on social media.

So why doesn’t everybody do this?

To be honest, I’m not really sure, but I think there are a few reasons:

  1. Not everybody has the resource to set up a team of employees to do nothing but look at social media.  However, if it leads directly to bookings is it not worth allocating some resource?   
  2. There is a lack of understanding about how to use social media for engagement rather than promotion.  It is a change in mindset about being helpful and offer added value rather than talking about how wonderful you are.  Some training might be needed.
  3. The systems aren’t in place to handle social media.  System and tools are available to help – again some training might be needed.

How can you engage with customers?

There are three ways you might have engagement with customers on social media:

  1. Answer Queries

I think it comes down to looking at social media as another customer touch point, rather than a promotional tool.  Any customer focused business should map all their customer touch points and review them to see how they can be improved.  Do you pick up the phone when customers call?  Do you answer emails?  Social media queries and mentions need to be treated the same way.  Even if you the business owner doesn’t like social media, you need to realise that it is the communication method of choice for some of your customers.  If you ignore them, they will go elsewhere.

  1. Customer Complaints

Yes, there is a danger of receiving more customer complaints if you are active on social media. However, I’m not sure that this risk decreases significantly if you are not on social media – you just won’t see the complaints and won’t be able to respond.  At least you have a chance to correct the problem if you see it on social media – as Marriott’s have shown.  

  1. Abuse / Trolls

OK, so this isn’t really engagement and it is not something that you would want, but we have to be realistic and say that it might happen.  I know of people who have left social media because they received abuse from competitors and others.  This is a risk like any other risk that you need to assess.  What is the best way of dealing with it?  The channels are getting better at allowing you to block abusive accounts and you need to put the procedures in place to know that it is not personal and to report abuse where necessary.  Hopefully, the new police initiative to target trolls will help reduce offenders.

What about promotion?

As I said earlier, you need a different mindset.  You have to put yourself into the shoes of your customers and think about what they want to see from you.  Pictures of food are popular, as are recipes, unusual ways of cooking, special events, getting to know the personalities behind the business and where the food is sourced.  Special offers and discounts may work occasionally, but it is a case of mixing it up and not just talking about how wonderful you are or saying ‘come to our restaurant / hotel’.

So what next?

  1. Allocate resource to social media in the same way you allocate resource to answer the telephone or email queries.  
  2. Put social media on mobile devices to make it easy to engage
  3. Create a content plan to identify what you can talk about
  4. Listen out for people talking about you and show that you care

Do contact us if you need help with social media training or content management – we would be delighted to help you increase your customer numbers.

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What’s The Story? – Instagram Stories

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What's the story - Instagram

Earlier this month, Instagram launched its new Stories functionality to seemingly appeal to users of Snapchat. It has since been rolled out across the world and has been well received by Instagram users.

Instagram Stories allows you to post numerous photos during the day for your followers to see and after 24 hours, the photos disappear. There is no doubt that Instagram is looking to retain existing users who may also be using Snapchat and their My Story feature.

How to make your Story

Your story is made up of your photos and videos that will be strung together to create a temporary slideshow that will showcase your story.

It’s really easy to start creating your story:

  1. Launch the latest Instagram app on your Android or iOS device
  2. Tap the plus (+) button on the top left-hand side of the main screen or you can swipe to the left on the screen.This image shows how to access Instagram stories.
  3. This will open up the Instagram camera where you have the option to flip the camera from back to front, set the flash to on, off or auto or return to the main screen. If you wish to add an existing photo then swipe down – you can only add photos that have been taken in the last 24 hours.Once you have opened the Instagram stories camera, you can take a photo or video.
  4. Tapping the circle at the bottom of the screen will take a photo, whilst holding it will record a video.
  5. You can swipe left or right to apply a filter to your image or video. There is currently seven filters available. 
  6. Once you are happy with the photo or video, you can edit it by adding text or a drawing. You have three types of pens to choose from, you can select the thickness of the nib and the colour you want to use.
  7. When you are ready, tap the tick – add it to your story!

Here you can see the editing stages of Instagram stories.

You can repeat the process to add further videos and photos to your story. Users will be notified that you have a story to share, as your profile will appear at the top of your followers Instagram feed and your profile picture will also have a circle surrounding it. Your Instagram audience will be able to swipe through your story for 24 hours.

In this image you can see how the colour circle appears when your friends have an Instagram story to share.

Instagram Stories Settings

Instagram have added some settings that you may find useful when using Instagram Stories.

Hide story from

This allows you to select any followers that you may not want to see your story.

Allow message replies

You can set whether you wish to receive replies from everyone, people you follow or you can turn them off.

This is how the Instagram stories settings page is displayed on an iOS device.

Have you used Instagram Stories yet? Please share how you have got on.

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Facebook Page changes – Do you need a website?

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Facebook page changes - do you need a website? Facebook have made some changes to the layout of their business pages.

Facebook have rolled out a major change to the look of pages on desktops.  The tabs that were along the top have moved down the right hand, the profile picture has been separated from the cover photo and the call to action button is much more prominent.

This screenshot shows how Facebook have changed they appearance of their business pages.

How can businesses benefit from these changes?

  1. You can use the whole space in the cover image without worrying about your profile picture covering it – though you still need to think about how it looks on mobile
  2. Your call to action button has become more prominent and therefore you need to check it is relevant for your page.
  3. The page name @concisetraining is clearly displayed and should be used on your marketing instead of the full URL
  4. The tabs now displayed on the left-hand side (they were there a few years ago!) offer more opportunity to show people what your business is all about.  For example, looking at our page:
    • We have a Newsletter Signup tab (using the Mailchimp Facebook app).  This is now much more prominent on the left-hand side than it was when it was hidden on the top.  
    • Our blog posts are published using the Networked Blogs app and are now easily available under the ‘Our Blog’ tab
    • We have used the Woobox App to publish the shopping page from our website under Online Courses
    • The Pinvolve app will show our Pinterest Boards

Having the tabs on the left-hand side makes it more likely that they will be used by visitors to your page.  You could even point them out in your posts.

Do you still need a website? 

There is definitely a website feel to the new page – and reconfirms the idea that Facebook are trying to take over from the need for a separate website.  However, I believe that a website will still be essential.  I don’t like the idea of being captive to the whim of Facebook changes – and the newsfeed algorithm and lack of search make it very difficult for businesses to be found / seen on Facebook.

Over to you

What do you think of the Facebook Page changes? Let us know if you have any questions.

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Study tips for the summer

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Study Tips for the summer. Enjoy the summer but if you have studying to do, don't put it off and give yourself too much to do.

As I am writing this blog the sun is shining and the temperature is rising towards 26°C. The summer weather has finally arrived, just in time for the schools and colleges to break up until September. You may even be getting ready to go on holiday with your family or friends.

Whilst it is important to enjoy the summer, have a break and relax, you need to ensure that you allocate time to study so that you don’t fall behind and don’t feel like you are playing catch up.

Study Timetable

You may find that creating a study timetable for your learning may be the best way to help you approach the summer. You can download a basic study timetable template here.

The benefits of a study timetable

  • You can plan your study time effectively and easily see the time you have allocated for studying and the time you are free.
  • You can break down tasks into smaller parts so that you don’t feel as overwhelmed if you kept it as one task.
  • You can base your study timetable around the times you feel you study best. Some people feel that they get the most out of studying in the morning.
  • You can make your timetable flexible so you can switch things around if something comes up.

Some tips to help you create your study timetable

  • If you have a large assignment or task to complete, aim to tackle that at the start of the day. This should stop you from putting it off.
  • Don’t give yourself too much to do. Ensure that your timetable is realistic – don’t try and cram 3 days work into 1 day.
  • Once you have completed a task, cross it off your timetable. This way you can see how much you have achieved.
  • Remember to factor in breaks into your timetable. Every 45 – 60 mins ensure you have a 10-minute break.

Apps to help you study

There are some really useful apps for desktop and mobile devices that can help you study over the summer.

GoConqr – is a free app that is available on iOS and Android devices. It includes a free study planner that makes it easy for you to manage your time more efficiently. Another useful aspect is that you can set yourself study goals allowing you to break large tasks into manageable chunks. You can also create flashcards if there are key elements that you are struggling to remember.  

Maths Alarm Clock – You know you have to study but you are struggling to wake up and have pressed ‘snooze’ numerous times on your alarm. Maths Alarm Clock is plain and simple, to turn the alarm off, you have to solve a math problem. This app gets your brain working as soon as you wake up. Maths Alarm Clock is a free app available for iOS and Android devices.

SelfControl – Is a free download for Mac. If you are working on an assignment and you get a notification from Facebook the chances are, you are going to look at it and potentially get distracted from your work. With SelfControl It blocks access to websites of your choice (i.e. ones that could distract you) for a specified amount of time.

Forest – An app to keep you away from your SmartPhone.  Set a time you are going to study for – and grow a tree.  If you stop the app  – the tree dies!  I’ve seen many teenagers keep at the books so they don’t kill their tree. Available for iOS and Android.

Do share any study tips or apps that you have found useful.

Concise Training’s social media courses are flexible distance learning courses that allow you to fit your study around your other commitments. All are tutor supported and are studied online, meaning you can study from anywhere where you have an internet connection … the garden, the beach, the park … ideal for some summer development!

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Find things to do this summer using social media

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Find things to do this summer using social media blog.

When it comes to the summer holidays, finding things to do and places to go to keep you and your family entertained can seem like a daunting task. There are many websites out there which provide information on forthcoming events in different areas and many of these are very useful but have you considered using social media so that information comes to you instead of you having to find it?

Read on to find out how.

Finding things to do with Facebook

Many organisations share details of events and activities on Facebook. You can find out about events easily. On the left-hand side when you log in scroll down until you see events and click “more”

On the left hand side when you log in scroll down until you see events and click “more”

This then presents you with a page which shows you events near you that are happening this week, Popular events near your location and suggestions of events that you might be interested in.

This image shows the results of the search and details what events are near you and happening this week.

The events that are suggested for you are based on your likes / interests and those of your friends. A really useful section is that for subscribed events. This showcases events published by pages that you might like – again suggestions are based on your likes and interests and those of your friends. Here you have the option to subscribe to the events published by these pages which means that you are informed about all their new happenings without having to lift a finger!

If you want to search Facebook for events in a particular location just type in the search box at the top “events in” adding the location at the end. For example a search “Events in Oxford” returns:

This image shows you the results of a search for 'events in Oxford'.

You can also try searching for “things to do in…” as this will often bring up posts that have been published by tourist information offices or venues. For example, if you were heading to the Leeds / Bradford area you might see posts made by Visit Bradford.

If you search for "things to do in ..." this will bring up posts that have been published by venues or tourist information offices.

Listen to what others are saying

Another tactic that you could take is to set up a Twitter list to monitor for certain phrases and keywords. This is something that is easy to do with a social media management tool like Hootsuite.

You could set up several lists to monitor for tweets about “events in Oxford” (or your chosen locations) and events aimed at certain types of person – “events for children” or “events for toddlers”.

If you are unsure how to set up search lists or you prefer to search Twitter directly you could try searching for particular terms and hashtags. For example, the folks over at Toddle on Down regularly use the hashtag #toddler together with a hashtag for a location so you could try searching for “#toddler #Oxford” to see what you can find.

This image shows the Twitter feed of Toddle on Down who regularly use the #toddler and a hashtag for a location making it easy to find events local to you.

Google Alerts

You can also monitor the Google index of web pages for any interesting new content that matches your chosen terms by using Google Alerts. This service will send you an email notification of new content that has been added to the Google Index. You could set this up with keywords or phrases related to the areas that you wish to visit, the type of activity that you might be interested in or phrases like “things to do for free in…”

This image shows you the search option for Google Alerts. You can input events, keywords or phrases into the search box.

How do you find things to do? Do you subscribe to newsletters? Social media broadcasts? Let us know your own tactics…

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Thoughts on the new Twitter dashboard

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Twitter have launched a new dashboard which is specifically designed for use by small businesses.

Twitter has launched a new way of managing a business account by scheduling Tweets, seeing what people are saying about you and viewing your analytics.

The Twitter Dashboard is available at http://dashboard.twitter.com/.  There is also a iOS app – but that is only available in the US at the moment.

As regular readers of my blog know, I am a big HootSuite fan, so will the Twitter dashboard take the place of HootSuite?  Let’s explore it in more detail.

The Twitter Dashboard shows four options on the top left – which offer some interesting insight into your activity.

Home

Offers 4 additional options

Screenshot showing the main screen of the new Twitter Dashboard app.

About You 

This can be used to show tweets that mention you or any related keywords, twitter accounts or hashtags.  You can also exclude words or phrases you don’t want to include.

Your Tweets

Shows all the tweets you have published.

Timeline

Shows all tweets from all the accounts you are following.

Messages

Shows any direct messages you have.

Create

Allows you to create a tweet and gives the option to schedule it in the future.

The new Twitter Dashboard app allows you to schedule Tweets for a later date / time.

Profile 

Allows you to select tweets to be displayed in a featured section.  

The new Twitter Dashboard app allows you to feature a number of Tweets so that they appear prominent on your Twitter feed.

Featured sections are optional – when turned on, your Twitter profile will have an additional ‘Featured’ Tab.  This will show latest tweets, a gallery of images and featured tweets.  Have a look at our Concise Training profile to see this in action.

The new Twitter Dashboard allows you to feature existing tweets and a gallery of your favourite images.

Analytics

Displays a number of sections for the last week, 30 days or 60 days

Activity

Displays number of tweets, the number of tweets with a photo, video and GIF and number of replies you have received.

Twitter dashboard also includes an Analytics section which shows how you are performing on Twitter.

Audience

Shows the number of times you have been mentioned and any new followers in the timeframe.

The audience section of the Twitter Analytics that are available on Twitter Dashboard.

Visits and views

Shows profile visits in the time frame as well as tweet impressions.

The views and visits section of the analytics on Twitter Dashboard show your profile visits and tweet impressions.

Our Opinion

Some of these features I really like.  The create option finally allows scheduling within Twitter – but HootSuite offers better functionality particularly in terms of the automatic scheduling and bulk upload (for those on the Pro option).

The Analytics section is useful.  It is good to be able to easily identify metrics for a week like mentions and replies and to see who has followed in the past week. I would like to see who has unfollowed too – but I guess this would be a bit negative for Twitter to display. 😃

Tweet impressions and visits are also good metrics, but more information is given in the full analytics available at https://analytics.twitter.com (including top tweets) so I’m not sure why you would use the dashboard analytics.

The featured section is very interesting and allows more control over what people see when they look at your profile – it will be important to make sure you keep this recent, though.

However, overall, I don’t see us giving up HootSuite anytime soon.  It offers better engagement, listening and scheduling features.  We would be interested to know what you think, though – let us know in the comments.

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LinkedIn Has Changed! – Settings have moved and navigating them is different.

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LinkedIn Has Changed! – Settings have moved and navigating them is different.

You may have noticed recently that LinkedIn has changed the way that you set some key settings for privacy and security amongst other options. For a short time you can opt to go back to the old way of doing things but soon the new settings will be applied to everybody’s LinkedIn account.

You still access your Privacy and Settings by clicking on your profile pic in the top right

Your accounts and settings as seen when accessed on LinkedIn

Beyond that, things have a new look and feel. Here is a quick summary of the changes:

Settings are now categorised under three tabs

Settings on LinkedIn are now categorised under three tabs.

The Account tab contains three subcategories of setting:
The Privacy tab contains four subcategories of setting:
The communications tab contains three subcategories of setting:

The settings that you are used to seeing are more or less all represented in the new layout but some have been given a slightly different name / description. For example, if you wish to change the email notifications that you are receiving you would now visit the Communications tab and Email Frequency.

Some of the privacy settings that you would have previously accessed by going to the Profile > Privacy Controls are now divided between the Privacy and Account tabs. Interestingly one of the settings that you used to be able to control via the old settings and which appears to be missing from the new settings is the ability to decide who can see your photo when viewing your profile. You can, however, set how other people’s photos are shown to you when you view their profile.

Another setting that appears to be missing from the new version is the ability to choose globally who can see your activity feed. This level of control appears to have been taken away from the LinkedIn user who must decide for each post individually who they want to see it.

The options for sharing a post on LinkedIn have also changed.

There are a couple of new options that weren’t in the settings before such as the ability to see a list of people that you have unfollowed so that you can refollow them:

You can now see a list of people that you have previously unfollowed, so you can follow them back.

In general, the new layout of the settings appears to be clearer and easier to find your way around. Settings have been grouped into more logical categories so you can find a setting which you have not previously accessed more easily than you could before.

As mentioned above there are one or two settings that have been left out of the new layout but for the time being, you can access the link that appears under the new settings to switch back to the old version:

For the time being you can still switch back to the old version of LinkedIn settings.

Some of the links from the old settings will just take you through to the new settings item. An example of this is clicking on the “Turn on/off meet the team” setting would take you through to the new version of this setting:

Some of the links from the old LinkedIn settings will just take you through to the new settings item.

This can actually be a useful way of finding where settings are in the new layout if you are used to the old layout but it might not be an option for much longer!

What do you think about the new layout for LinkedIn settings? Are there any settings missing that you used to use? Do let us know what you think.

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Web Chat Functionality – should you be offering it?

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Should you be using a web chat functionality on your website? Our latest blog looks at the benefits.

When you are selling products or a service online you are continuously looking to make it easier for your customers to obtain the answers to any questions or queries they may have. Like many websites at Concise Training, we have our contact details displayed so that they are easy to locate. Our email address, contact form, phone number, address and social media icons represent numerous ways that we can be contacted.

Despite having multiple contact methods we were aware that prospects sometimes want to ask a question immediately and don’t want to take the time to pick up the phone (I know I often don’t).  It could make the difference between them purchasing from you, purchasing from a competitor or deciding to come back another time (and then never getting the time).

Live web chat options are becoming more common across big brand websites. Sky Television have been utilising live web chat on their website since 2007. Mobile phone operators such as Three have also found success having a live web chat option available. A consumer trend study by ATG Global found that 90% of U.S. consumers consider live web chat helpful whilst 85% of European consumers ranked live web help as ‘useful to extremely useful’.  

Talking to the Concise Training team at the beginning of the year, we realised that we used live web chat options as a contact method ourselves when purchasing goods and services.  We also found that we had the resource to man a ‘chat option’ which was a keen consideration.  We didn’t want people to want to talk to us and have nobody available to answer. 

After some initial research and to prove the concept, we first chose a free WordPress plugin, which in principle did the job. However, it had a few downsides, including a limit to the number of chats you could have a month, an interface that wasn’t particularly user-friendly, no mobile functionality and it was a bit hit and miss whether it notified you that you had an incoming chat.   It did the purpose of proving the concept so, after some more research, we chose Pure Chat 

PureChat offers a free option which provides you with up to 15 chats a month on one website as well as visitor tracking. We initially installed the free option but after two months we were using all of our allocated 15 chats per month so we signed up for an option with 3 ‘seats’, which can be used on 2 websites and unlimited chats for $20 / month.  

The Pure Chat logo, our choice for a web chat functionality on our website.To date, we have been really impressed with the results from using PureChat.  We have seen a conversion rate of around 75% after chatting with customers. The other 25% haven’t all gone away but are just taking a bit longer to decide 😃.  This is significantly better than we saw from the website before installing Pure Chat.

Why Pure Chat?

It is easy to use – from the initial installation to general use, it is logically laid out and offers a very simple set of functionality.  Active visitors are shown including the page they are currently visiting, how many times they have visited the site, how they found the site  and where they are geographically located .  This allows Concise Training staff to monitor users browsing habits and initiate a live chat if they feel the browser could benefit from some assistance using the ‘Start Chat’ icon.