March 2018 - Small business consultant

Monthly Archives: March 2018

Ethics, Psychology, Facebook & Cambridge Analytica

Cambridge Analytica has brought to light the ethics of understanding the data which sits behind Facebook. It has made people aware that Facebook employs psychologists to help them optomise the platform. It has made people nervous. I had intended to write on how data mining is nothing new and that the #deletefacebook phenomenon only scratches the surface and that the sale and scraping of data is rife across the internet. I decided against it. I want to talk about something I fight with most of the time doing what I do.

The ethical use of the psychology behind social media, particularly Facebook.

Back in June 2014 I wrote about some research Facebook participated in. The thing is that the research was conducted in 2012 and I remember being part of it. People’s newsfeeds were altered to see either predominantly positive or negative posts and they measured their reactions and the posts they wrote to see if there was a relationship between the posts you saw and the posts you wrote. There was & you can read what I wrote here.

I can’t exactly remember when I first realised that Facebook had Psychologists on the payroll. I think it was around the time the research was conducted. It made perfect sense to me. It was a social media network and the laws of social psychology seemed to fit perfectly with what I saw.

Through the years, my Psychology Degree has come in handy. It has helped me as a mother. It has helped me through trauma. It has helped me through grief. It has helped me connect with Veterans and the Veteran community in my 12 years of working with them. It helped me in my time supporting the research functions of Veterans’ Affairs. The one place I never thought it would help me was when I moved to helping businesses with social media. Boy was I wrong & I quickly changed my opinion.

I have been on Facebook since 2009 and in that time how I use the platform has changed. I’ve moved from it being purely social to it also being a business tool. I have to admit, there was a time a few years ago where my friends and family couldn’t grasp how I used it as a business tool, but I stuck with it. I could objectively see the platform as a way to connect with clients (this was before ads started).

So what have I learnt about Facebook in the intervening years and how does that apply to psychology and ethical psychology?

I admit, there are times where I feel a little uneasy knowing what I do. The thing is – I’m not alone. When you understand a mechanism behind something and you can project what will happen, it’s like being able to see into the future or predict it and it can be unsettling. Just ask a doctor who is faced with a family member’s terminal diagnosis, it’s sickening to be able to see what will happen before it does. (I’ve been there and it’s the same feeling)

So what do you do? Do you hide what you know and pretend to be ignorant? Do you use your knowledge to help yourself? Do you use your knowledge to help others? All the while knowing that the state of affairs will march forward regardless of what you do.

So I help others.

I can see where things are headed. I can see the social psychology at play. I can understand what happens to our brains when we’re online. I can see the motivators. I also know that I am not the only one who sees them, but I know I’m one of the few who understands why & how they work not just that they work.

Some would say that I should try and stop the use of psychology in social media. It’s too late and it’s innate. We bring these principles to a situation regardless of if there is someone gamifying it. As humans, we have a set of social constructs and norms we adhere to when we are in a group. Social media is no different, they’ve just created new layers where previous constructs never met.

So if I can’t beat them, join them?

No, that’s not my style. I’m not one to have knowledge and not share it. Could that be considered profiteering? I suppose, but if you’re part of my Facebook Group you’d know that’s not the case. That and I don’t believe it’s any more a case of profiteering than seeing a counsellor for any other mental health scenario.

Can you help people to understand the psychology of social media ethically?

Well of course I’d like to think so but let me tell you the premise behind what I teach.

I know that we come to situations with a set of motivators.
I believe that customers want to feel heard, just like anyone with a problem/issue/need.
I know that our brain chemistry changes using social media, I will teach you why so you are more aware of your behaviour online.
I understand the psychology that underpins each of these and I am determined to share this knowledge with business owners so that they can create better relationships with their clients.

If you would like to know more of what I do, please send me an email to or we can organise a time to chat.

3 keys to getting business advice

Time and again I hear the tale of business owners who are confused by the myriad of information out there; in particular, when it comes to running a Facebook Page and identifying their ideal client.

If you have been following my blog for a while now you would know that I’m not a stranger to either of these topics and that I am a little left of centre where they are both concerned.

But I’m tired of hearing about business owners who are frustrated and confused.

There are a couple of issues behind this that I have uncovered over the past months & I want to put them right out there. I want to address the elephant in the room.

The squeaky guru

A mixture of the squeaky wheel and the shining guru. This phenomenon occurs to confound us when we are tripped up by those with big budgets. We get caught up in the marketing circus and the romance of a connection with a leading expert and what happens next? It falls flat. It lacks substance.

There are many reasons why this happens but please realise that you have fallen prey to their funnel and you are but a number on the way to their next zero.

Seem cynical? Perhaps, but beware. Over the years I have seen many businesses tout how you can make six figures but their main aim is for you to help them make theirs. And at what cost?  Consider how much they have paid in advertising and affiliate costs to win your money.  I’ve seen Facebook ad spends from ten to one hundred thousand dollars a month and profit margins that don’t correlate with how much they pay out.

Buyer beware!

The shiny new thing

The lure of a new tool, a new method, a new fix. Anything! Something! All the things!

Time and again I have seen people and tools come and go. Some might realise that it’s not for them. Others realise their life has moved on. Others just fail.

While I have backed a number of new toys for my business, my initial investment was low and my returns have far outstripped the cost.

Don’t fall foul of the celebrity of a new toy. In fact, make sure you look at my article on testimonials as many new toys use celebrity as a way of endorsing their product as the ‘next best thing’.

Be aware that marketers use influencers to market new things and that FOMO is real. Follow your heart and your head.

Free fever

The biggest thing I hear is that ‘I don’t have the money’. So businesses, especially new ones, will flit from freebie to freebie hoping to be able to piece the puzzle together. It’s ok, I did that too. Until I decided to change that.

In 2017 I instinctively knew that it was time to invest in a business retreat. 2016 had been a year where I put my business on hold for the sake of my family and it was time to take the reigns again. After the retreat, the organiser invited me to join their group coaching program. It wasn’t a massive financial draw but it was significant. The thing is that I knew that I needed one person to guide me through growing my business. I needed one person who was in my corner, who could see my end goal and who could give me the tools and encouragement to get me there.

It was one person. Not a number of free calls with various people who saw my income quadruple in that first month. It was that laser focus from one person who has had me double my income year on year since then.

There is no conflicting advice. Instead there is a clear path of growth to steer me to where I want to be. It’s consistent. It’s measured. It’s got nothing to do with their growth and everything to do with mine because I am working with them, they do not need to bring me through their funnel.

Having a constant voice in your corner is reassuring.

While growing a business requires you to be aware of new opportunities, success requires you to go all in on one direction. A scattered approach will only have you feeling pulled in all directions, where as a consistent source of information and advice will see you through and give you reassurance that you will be ok.

When you make a clear, calculated, and consistent commitment to your business you are rewarded. You reap what you sew.

In response to the constant confusion I am hearing, I have pulled my resources into one location. I want it to be easier for you to choose what suits you best. I understand that when you are starting out that you rely on these resources to help you through, but I want you to realise that there comes a point where free actually has a larger cost than benefit.

Email: The fax of the 21st century

Chatting with a friend today, the age old conversation of “what if Facebook disappeared tomorrow” and “drive your audience to where you own the traffic” came up. As always, email is one of the top contenders for this role. But is it really? Has email become the fax of the 21st century?

For those of us old enough to remember; cast your mind back to a time where you would come in to the office in the morning and there would be a stack of faxes on the machine. Some were actually work related but the majority of them were various types of advertising materials from your suppliers. Now what did you do with those faxes? You might have kept one or two from your most used/trusted suppliers but the rest went in the bin. And the ones that went in the bin regularly would often see its number blocked at the machine. Am I right?

Skip forward 20 years and look at your email inbox. You could have the most sophisticated filtering, use a single address for sign ups, you will still get those unwanted emails. If you’re like me they are mostly from SEO companies wanting to get my site ranked on page 1, they are occasionally people wanting me to promote their stuff on my site, and occasionally I get an African Prince rock up. Oh and each day I have 2-3 emails from people or newsletters who I like having in my inbox. Even then, I don’t always read the newsletter.

So my question is, “Is email the fax of the 21st century?” or “Is email an internet dinosaur?”

Why is it that we are told as business owners to build our list, keep it fresh, and that there’s value in the list?

Has the email list become internet folklore?

Is the email list an entrepreneurial right of passage?

Has building an email list become a business to do and to not do is taboo?

You might know that a bit over a year ago now I stopped emailing my list each week and opted for monthly. Since then I have had less decline in my list when I email than before. It’s logical, I’m appearing less. I couldn’t think of anything worse than being that weekly unread fax on the machine just waiting to be binned.

In 2017 I attended Inbound and heard an interesting theory that keeping email simple, like you would to a friend, is more successful. So I have. And it works.  But I don’t email my friends once a week. That would annoy the crap out of them & anyway, what would I say? It’s not like that “call Mum/Grandma on a Sunday afternoon catch up”, email is unilateral – just like a fax.

I know there are people who say, well if you deliver good value then email is still a great way to market. The problem is that the vast majority of emails nowadays don’t deliver great content. In fact, do we actually need another way to deliver content. And regardless of content quality are you still not another one of those emails landing in their tray taking up space that could actually be from a friend or client? Just like those faxes.

I’ve long believed that regular email was a dinosaur, but don’t dismay (or for those waiting for the twist, here it is) I actually do see value in building a list. (So please don’t flood my inbox with emails saying how wrong I was)

I have started using my list as a Facebook Audience. There is value in that list. The people on that list chose to be there, they choose to remain there, and they chose me to have a relationship with. So when I’m looking to promote something, I might email my list, but I will send out an ad to the people who look like those on my list. You see, they fit the same mould as my list members and that means they are more likely to like my stuff, like me, and potentially buy from me.

So my email list has value, my emails – well they’re still a fax I hope someone decides has value and takes back to their desk to read or better still, pin up on the coffee room wall to show to others in the office & refer to later.

The shoulds of marketing

Oh I love them! You should have an email list. You should email your list daily, weekly, monthly. You should run Facebook Ads. You should have a Facebook Group. You should do Facebook Lives. You should do webinars. You should scrap free consultations. Should. Should. SHOULD.

Ok, so some of those things are smart business. Some of those things are good marketing. But they miss a few key points. (and I’m sure I’ve missed plenty of shoulds)

Here’s the thing. If you do/don’t want to do something in your business. It’s your business. No one can tell you what to do.

I’m a firm believer that our businesses are extensions of ourselves, we put so much blood, sweat and tears into it! Why wouldn’t it be deeply connected to us.

I’m one to buck trends but I have to be honest that I still get the wobbles. Here’s an example.

I keep seeing Webinars announced. Don’t get me wrong some people get great results from using webinars as part of their marketing funnel. Personally, I can’t stand them. I know it’s going to be a few minutes of personal history, a tiny bit of learning, then a lot of pitch. Generally I can’t attend due to time zone differences and there’s no recording because they don’t want you to skip to the meat. So I’m stereotyping and there would be great ones out there, don’t message me the links, but they all follow the same formula, and it’s a formula.

So I asked my audience if they liked webinars and they said they loved them. Great! My audience loves them and I don’t. What to do? Honestly, I’m still stuck in webinar purgatory not knowing what to do. I don’t want to have another one of ‘those’ webinars.

That’s the thing! I don’t have to. Just because I should, just because some of my audience have said they like webinars – doesn’t mean I have to.

What I do have to do is acknowledge that by not doing them, there is a lost opportunity and associated cost. By doing them my way there’s a risk that I won’t get the return I would have had I followed the formula. If I do one according to the formula, there’s a risk it will be ingenuous and I will lose out.

That’s what I want you to know. You don’t have to just because someone else tells you to. You do have to realise that everything comes at a cost, action as well as inaction has a cost. I just know that if you do something not aligned with who you are, people will see through it.