January 2015 - Kara Lambert

Monthly Archives: January 2015

3 Facebook algorithm & putting social into social media

The them and us of social media - W2RWe are now almost a month into the new Facebook algorithm and one thing is patently clear – my reach died on my larger page.

I run two pages, one for each of my businesses (Write to Right & Schooled Up), and the larger of the two saw a dramatic drop in its reach. Normally I sit between 60-80% reach (total or post) for my page (all organic); with the change in algorithm it dropped to a third of that. I was in shock! I looked at Write to Right, a newer and smaller page, and its stats hadn’t changed, still 80-90% total reach. I was a little surprised, but being a much smaller page it wasn’t too surprising that it hadn’t moved.

So I pulled my socks up and went back to grass roots for Schooled Up. I looked at the articles about the new algorithm and I looked at what I was already doing. I was already sharing links the way that Facebook wanted them shared – no bait linking and with the image brought in from the website. I didn’t generate my own videos, so there was no benefit of having native video uploads. My photos were bright and colourful. I had engaging content. What was up?!

It hit me! Zuckerberg had gone back to grass roots Facebook, back to the user experience, closer to a true ‘social’ media platform. I had to be more sociable, I had to think link my end user, I had to use Facebook (as a business) like I use it as an individual. Tweet this

So what does that look like?

It means I think more about what my customer wants to see. What they are going through, what is bothering them, what will make their day easier, and I share that. I share more of myself. I used to be a little standoffish, not wanting to share too much of me on my page. I now inject more of my personality into my posts. Now, there is a word of caution here, my customers on the Schooled Up page are a happy chatty lot, they are there to see what I am making, have a laugh, and learn a hint or two. So, I can use emoticons and kisses in my posts, they don’t mind. But honestly, we can all lighten up a little bit! Even brain surgeons joke around; so why not try to find, better still make your own, a humorous quote or picture which will appeal to your ideal client.

Speaking of lighten up. Don’t rant on Facebook. I mean don’t ever! As a user I am on Facebook to catch up with what my friends and family are up to and to see what great new things your business is doing. I do not want to hear how: Facebook isn’t playing nicely, how another business stole your idea, and at a push do I want to know that you can’t make a deadline because of illness. People will disagree with me, they will say that it boosts their stats – sure, temporarily. If you continue to whinge at your customers they will turn off. Consider this, your Facebook posts and page are your shop front, how would you feel as a customer if you walked into a store to some sour person whingeing about how bad business is. It’s not welcoming. Last year, Facebook published its research on how positive emotions in posts effected behaviour. I analysed it and wrote about how businesses can benefit from the research. I strongly suggest that you head over and revise that content. Why? Because with the change in algorithm to a more user oriented, socially driven Facebook, you will benefit from knowing what makes people click and comment on Facebook.

Now what do I mean about being sociable, well I wrote about it back in June 2014, but here are a few ideas. Consider what is troubling your ideal client (not sure who your ideal client is, here is where you can do some background work), then head to Pinterest, Google, ask them what their favourite pages are, or if you happen to be in your definition of you ideal client then look at your Newsfeed. Set up an interest list of the Facebook pages they find interesting and follow them, look at what they are sharing, share from them (you will be helping their stats too). Not too sure about that? Have a look at what is trending on Facebook. The other day, the big news item here in Australia was the change to the Cadbury crème egg recipe, so I found a DIY for the eggs and shared it, with a reference to the recipe change. It was huge! With most of my fans being parents, I shared a kinetic sand recipe just after Christmas – another popular one with my customers.

So what did I have to do to improve my Facebook insights? (they are now back up) I went back to what my customer wants. They don’t want to see a constant stream of my products, they don’t want to hear my whinge about how my stats dropped. They want helpful ideas on raising their kids, mealtimes, and cleaning the house. They want to know how my products will help make things easier for them. They want to be entertained. They have enough drudgery in their lives, and I help make it that bit easier.

So, do you know what your ideal customer wants? How are you improving their day? Want to know the other gems I use to get my reach so high? Then sign up for the weekly newsletter, where I will share the hints and you will be invited to attend my Facebook secrets workshop, where I will tell you the steps to take to get seen on Facebook.

Time management

Mindfulness time management Write to RIght

But I just don’t have the time! I’m time poor! I need more hours in the day! I wish I had a magic wand and could give you more hours, I don’t, but I do have ways to make it feel like you do have more time. It’s all about time management and time perception.

Here’s the thing, if you constantly think and feel that you don’t have enough of something; you won’t! It really is a ‘glass half empty’ approach to time management. Consider this, you have a friend who is always negative, they can not see the good in anything; always moping, bad things constantly going wrong. If they can only see the negative, that is all they will find.

So, now think about time. Yes I know we all have the same number of hours in the day, but how do you value and see those hours? Do you believe that they will slip through your fingers, do you think they will whizz by; or do you think you have all the time you need, and that time is on your side? Which would you prefer?

I changed my belief about the time I had and suddenly I realised that I can do all that I need AND I don’t have to feel rushed or stressed in completing them. I realised that time is an asset and when assets are seen for their true value they can appreciate. (Tweet this) I liken it to when you feel stressed and take a deep breath, things seem to slow and calm down. When I first started, there were a lot of deep breaths, but that’s ok, it’s working.

So my first hint is to change how you think about the time you have available, the second is planning how you use your time.

So, time is an asset, something to be valued. Don’t squander it! I plan my time, especially when I have a number of high, competing priorities. I work back from my deadline, add meetings, parent commitments, me time, wiggle room for illness; then I work out which parts of the task need to be done, when (milestones). I admit, it’s the project manager in me that enjoys this, but to be honest, if it didn’t work I wouldn’t do it. (I’m just not a checklist kind of person)

I encourage you to put in the time for illness and time for yourself. While you plan your working time with these contingencies, if you don’t need them, then don’t use them. That said, I have quite often been grateful for having worked an extra day into a schedule to care for a sick child, be with a friend who needed a shoulder, or attend that impromptu school assembly.

So planning your time is key. The other tool I have used to maximise my time is a social media calendar. I used the calendar when I took a month off for a family holiday. It saved my sanity when I was planning the posts, it also saved me time in rebuilding my Facebook reach when I returned, it kept me in contact with my email subscribers, and it allowed me the freedom to be dedicated to my family while on holiday.

If you would like to know more, I suggest looking up Randy Pausch, Gay Hendricks, mindfulness, and Einstein time.

Style guide

style guide Write to Right business solutions

I believe that a classic style never dates and consistency is key to delivering to your customers. But how does it apply to business and why is it important? Consider official letters from Government. They can be sent from anywhere in a country, not necessarily where you reside, but it will not matter where it is they will all have a similar look and feel. The easiest way to combine the two is to develop a business style guide.

Why is this important? People like consistency, we are generally adverse to change. If you were reading an official letter and it used terms interchangeably, changed its logo throughout, and referred to you or the representative in different ways you would start to question. You would question if they knew what they were doing, if it was actually an official letter, and how you would be treated face-to-face or on your next encounter.

So how does this apply to your business? Firstly, I could almost guarantee that there are other businesses around with a similar name and or function to yours. A consistent look to your communication (website, emails, Facebook, etc.) will save them any confusion as to which business they are talking with. Secondly, it is easier for a business owner to use one style for their communication, rather than feeling the need to make it up as they go along. It is also helpful if you have staff who write for the business. Thirdly, it can save you money when employing a consultant to undertake any communication tasks (developing a pamphlet, building a website, managing social media etc.).

Using a style guide has certainly helped me when writing for different media and clients. While working in government, there were guides for press releases, ministerials, client letters, and an overarching guide. Unless you are a business with a few hundred staff who communicate across many media and stakeholders, you are unlikely to need this many guides. However, a document that outlines your mission, vision, ideal client, benefits, key adjectives, and preferred tone is a worthy addition to your business. From here it can evolve to including which messages are distributed over particular media. You can even detail how minutes will be taken and distributed.

Consistent look

If you have been following the blog, you should now go back and revise the adjectives where your
goals/mission/vision and the needs/fears of your ideal customer cross. This will give you some grounding to develop the style guide.

Business name
You will need to consider how you will refer to your business. Will you use the name in full all the time, for the first time on a page or use, will you use a shortened version?

Business owner/s
Have you thought about how you will refer to yourself as the business owner or owners? Will you use ‘I’, ‘we’, ‘they’, or your name or names? Although you will need to consider the tense of the text you are writing, this is one topic where I see a lot of inconsistency. Something you might wish to consider if you are struggling with this is if your customers would prefer to be spoken to in a formal or informal/conversational tone. An informal/conversational tone will use ‘I’ and the formal tone will use ‘we’ or ‘they’.

Logo
Probably one of the easier aspects to settle on, except if you consider how it will be used online, in black and white, or if there is some instance where you will prefer a shortened version.

Colours
Something I had previously overlooked was how I used colour through my communication. I underestimated how the use of consistent colours can reassure customers and develop your brand image. Consider the background colours to images or posters you develop and font colours for any communication. There is a simple rule of thumb applied to the use of colour online: There should be a high contrast between the background and the text colour, and avoid yellow text (many people find it difficult to read online).
Here is something I learnt as a manager, don’t refer people to a particular coloured text, it will be meaningless if they are colour blind.

Font
Some businesses will consistently use one font for all communication. Others will use the font from their logo. This is a matter of style. Branding experts recommend using no more than three font styles in one image or document. Additionally, research indicates that people find text with serifs easier to read, something to consider if you are writing a larger document.

Tense
The tense you use will generally depend on the topic or how the document is to be used. My word of advice is to be consistent. While there can be a need to jump between past, present, and future tenses; doing so can make your document harder to read and can cause confusion.

Ease of use

So, if you have detailed how your business will meet the above points, it will give you a handy guide when writing. Better still, if you and another person write for the business it will assist in having consistent look to your communication. I have found having a ready reference also helps me to quickly put together supporting images and documents (and I’m all for saving time).

Saving money

Employing a consultant to manage your social media, develop a website, or develop a document can be a costly, though worthwhile, venture. Having a document that outlines how you will refer to yourself, your business, how you want your logo used, and your business colours will save having this conversation with the consultant. It allows us an insight into the back end of your business and means that we can easily support you and help you to achieve your outcomes. Let’s face it, in anyone’s business time IS money.

Work smarter

work smarter with Write to Right

Working on over working in. Work smarter, not harder. Have you heard either of these in business? They are not cliché and are actually related.

When you choose to work on your business, you are dedicating your time to working smarter. (Tweet this) Working smarter doesn’t mean lowering prices, increasing profits, or churning out more widgets. It’s not about doing more with less, either.

Working on, similarly isn’t about working out how to increase sales, profits or decreasing costs. These things are all about working in your business.

So what’s my point?
As an owner of two businesses, I have had to establish some clear systems to allow me to meet my obligations. With a family to go with these business obligations, I like some flexibility. This is where I have started to work smarter. This doesn’t mean that, at times, I have to work hard.

What have I done?
In the past year I have implemented a number of changes in how I run my businesses, which allow me to grow my income, reduce the time I spend working in my business, and increase the time I can spend with my family. (And I haven’t increased prices or decreased costs)

Last year, I implemented six-monthly reviews of my business goals and broader activity. I track my income and expenses as they occur (but this is working in), however, I also monitor them against the broader goals I set. This review allows me to see where I am meeting (or exceeding my aims) and also where I need to change.

In my business, ‘working on’ has two arms: education and systems.

As a business owner, I find it difficult to put work aside and spend time on myself. However, it is exactly when I spend time developing my knowledge that I receive the greatest benefit in my business. (Tweet this) When I read, I am either developing myself or I am developing my business knowledge. In the past 12 months I have read and learnt from: Get Rich Lucky Bitch (Denise Duffield-Thomas), The Big Leap (Gay Hendricks), Thrive (Arianna Huffington), and Tribes (Seth Godin). I also read a number of blogs, including, Make it Look Easy, Leonie Dawson, and Marie Forleo (plus those whose books I have read).

Grow your business with Write to Right

I have learnt more about goal setting, planning, self-assurance, self-care, and self-love. All of these have helped me grow as a person and as a business owner, but not one of them has directly resulted in an increase in cash flow. They have all been about working ‘on’ me and my business and it is how I have implemented the learning which has resulted in financial growth.

The thing I love most about this growth is that I can then apply it to my business. If I feel more self-confident then I am more likely to make the system changes my business needs.

When I change the systems in my business, I gain time that I can then spend on myself, my business, or my family. There are large system changes and small system changes. Here are a few that I have made and profited from over the past year.

Reverse engineering my time
As I said earlier, running two businesses is taxing. The biggest system change I have made is to reverse engineer my week. I used to be reactionary or first in first out before I started Write to Right (my second business). As a result of starting Write to Right I had to make drastic changes to how I handled my time. I work backwards from when work is due, include other obligations, free time, and some contingency time (because let’s face it we get sick). Now, this does not mean I take all of this time to do the work; in fact, I am more likely to finish the work earlier. What reverse engineering allows is for me to feel less pressured when things go wrong and for me to value my time for myself and my family.

Accounting systems
A recent review of my accounts and time input into the business lead me to change my accounting systems. This has meant a simpler way for customers to pay invoices and a more automated accounting process on my end. So not am I not working harder, I am no longer busy working in my business collecting debts.

Websites
I recently needed to update my website, but realised that I needed to change the entire platform on which it was built. So I outsourced it! There is a misconception in small business that:
- we must do everything we are capable of (and I certainly was)
- outsourcing is expensive, and
- outsourcing is a luxury.

They’re all wrong. While I knew how to change the platforms, I also knew that by outsourcing it, it would be faster and allow me more time for other activities.

So, how will you work on your business in 2015? What will you do to work smarter? 2015 is my year of growth, so I will continue to learn. Growth isn’t always inwards, so I will be growing and sharing what I know with all of you. The first is a series of facilitated courses with practical tasks that will give you knowledge you can implement (straight away). After this I will be working towards my ebooks/workbooks and videos; these will push my boundaries, help me to grow, and allow me to meet my goal of helping you to grow your business.