Archive of ‘Social Media’ category

Instagram for Business

instagram imagesIt’s not a new social media site, but it is definitely one that is seeing more and more adoption by businesses to market their products & services.

Instagram is a rapidly growing photo and video sharing platform with more than 150 million users and 16 billion photos shared. Over 55 million photos are shared on Instagram to a very engaged community every single day.

With Instagram, you can tell a story with both photos and videos. As soon as you upload an Instagram image, you can see within seconds that someone has liked it.

You can link your Instagram account to facebook and extend the reach of your images & videos to both audiences.

Like twitter & facebook, you can use #hashtags to create a common theme for your images, and encourage visibility of your brand, products and adjectives which best describe them.

How can you encourage your customers to interact with your brand & instagram account…get them to take photos of your products, tag them with your hashtag, run a competition etc? Time to get creative!

Social Media Examiner have done a fabulous interview and article on using Instagram to marketing your business, with a feature on a boutique – how can you add Instagram to your online marketing strategy, connect with a wider audience and sell more of your products or service?

Please share your Instagram account with us in the comments – we’d love to take a look!

We’re looking forward to using Instagram to promote our upcoming Dundee Jobsfair and the vacancies that our exhibitors will have…it’s a great way for us to reach an extended set of people who might not be able to make it along in person #jobsfairdundee

Alison

 

Content is King!

content sharingHow do you manage the content that you share on your social media accounts?

Here are 7 of the many habits that I make part of my regular routine to find and share good content amongst my network & business contacts that I hope they will find useful:

 

  1. Use the PULSE app to categorise the news articles that you see, and that you can then share on via your social networks. This is the stand alone news app from LinkedIn which has amazing content
  2. Use good news apps in the same way: BBC, Sky News etc
  3. Like pages on Facebook that you know will give you good content, e.g. Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce
  4. Use a bookmark tool to set aside good articles that you want to make more of, write a blog post on etc – I use Apple’s Reading List across all of my devices, whether I see something interesting on my iPhone, Macbook or iPad, I know that I will have a shared list that I can go back to and look over when I am ready
  5. Create lists on twitter to aggregate the people on twitter that you know generally share good articles and contacts – that way you can quickly access their tweets and easily share it on
  6. Write a blog – create your own content! You can make your blog posts as long or as short as need be, but taking time to write your own pieces will help showcase your skills and make you stand out as knowledgeable in that field
  7. Use great websites like Mashable to find relevant articles that I like to share, from categories such as business, social media etc

“Traditional Marketing talks at people, Content Marketing talks with them.” ~ Doug Kessler

Sharing great content allows you to enter into conversations with your social media contacts and really spark lots of interaction! Have fun with it…

Alison

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50% off our training in Marketing & Social Media Skills

UPDATED:

Flexible Training Opportunities | Our Skillsforce.

We’re delighted to see clients already applying for training grants from Skills Development Scotland to support their marketing and social media skills for business in 2014!

You may qualify for 50% of the cost of our workshops, funded by the Flexible Training Opportunities Fund – to find out more including details of how to apply, visit http://www.ourskillsforce.co.uk – you must have your approval for the funding before booking & attending a workshop, so don’t delay if you’re looking for their assistance in supporting your training.

Our Social Media for Business course dates have been announced and the July dates are available for booking – just let us know if you are applying for funding and want to reserve a place. See the events tab above for all info.

We’ll be publishing dates of our other group courses very soon, but you can also benefit from 1-2-1 training support in a whole range of skills from marketing planning, online marketing to more specific social media for business, or a deep dive into individual platforms, such as facebook twitter, LinkedIn or event Pinterest!

Call our team on 01382 221078 to find out more

 

Social Media for Business – Workshops

The world of social media marketing for businesses is such a huge one and as I prepare to deliver the first of a two-part session for local businesswomen’s group Women Ahead in Dundee & Angus, I’m realising that although I would admit to being a fairly comfortable user of social media, I sometimes feel that I’m barely scratching the surface!?????????????????????

From #hashtags and keywords, to engaging content, measurement and using the best platform for the right business, it’s a pretty complex landscape.

So, tomorrow we will be covering the basics of the different platforms, who is the audience on the main ones and what are the features that you can use to better market your business to the right audiences for you.

I can’t stress enough the famous line ‘If you fail to PLAN, you plan to FAIL’ (or words to that effect!), so we will be looking at:

  • Understand WHAT you are trying to do
  • Be clear on WHO you are aiming to reach
  • Know (and test!) WHERE you will find them
  • Have a social media plan
  • Make sure you are consistently ENGAGING
  • Be clear on WHEN & HOW you will post
  • Share a mixture of updates (text, photos, articles, interesting news etc)

Make sure your updates are during the times that your audience will see them – no point in tweeting during the night if all of your UK followers are asleep!

Social media concept in word tag cloudKeep an eye on your analytics and above all else:

RESPOND QUICKLY WHEN SOMEONE REPLIES OR CONTACTS YOU – WITHIN THE HOUR IF POSSIBLE, BUT CERTAINLY WITHIN 24 HOURS – IF YOU SNOOZE YOU LOSE!

 

Find us on Facebook, follow my ramblings on Twitter, and keep an eye on my Pinterest boards – loads to interact with…I’d love to hear from you!

AlisonAlison Henderson

Scotland’s Referendum 2014…my first initial observations

scotlands_futureSo yesterday marked a momentous (my words!) occasion when Alec Salmond, First Minister and Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister gathered the media together in Glasgow to launch their case for an independent Scotland.

They published ‘Scotland’s Future’ – a tome running to 670 pages, 170,000 words and 650 Question & Answers, which is “the most detailed prospectus for the independence of a country that has ever been published”.

Now, this is one side of the story, and one that many of us in Scotland have been calling out for because if there is anything missing from the impassioned pleas, the rhetoric and barbs from one side of the fence to the other, it is the details that we as voting Scots need to make a clear and important decision – one which is a massive obligation and right.

So many people will now be in a position to take their time, ruminate over the white paper and begin to make sense of its content. Within minutes of the publication, we were seeing the predictable commentary from both sides about the content of it – just let us get a chance to read it please!

Anyway, rant over – my main reason for putting fingers to keyboard today (ah we’ll soon look back and say…they used to use their FINGERS?) is to comment about the way in which this information is being delivered to us.

In an almost perfectly executed launch (you’ve got to lose some marks for a website that is having difficulty handling the demand for your PDF!), we saw a whole range of modern & exciting media being used:

  • Live streams on YouTube
  • Blog post by Nicola Sturgeon signposting the way to the document
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • hashtags to follow the online conversation
  • infographics
  • videos

As a communicator in the modern business world, this is a fantastic case study of how to make best use of all of the tools and techniques available to reach your audience.

Personally, I’m still undecided…before yesterday I had seen very little in the way of definite detail on either side which was convincing enough – as a proud Scot, its enormously difficult to make your head & your heart tell you the same story until you have the depth of knowledge to make a conscious informed decision.

Now all we need is a bit of time to get our head round it all, have the opportunities to ask our own questions, listen to informed debate, not be browbeaten by anyone and not fall out with our neighbours!

Upcoming events:

Here are links to the Scottish Referendum social media accounts:

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Have a browse through the conversations using the hashtags – #indyplan is the main one, but you’ll also find people were using #whitepaper #indyref

alisonhendo


 

 

Women, breadwinners and ‘modern’ families

Hi…my name is Alison Henderson and I’ve got a confession – its been too long since my last blog post! When I started my blog, I was always very clear that I would post as & when I could and not force myself into a rigid schedule of publishing something just for the sake of it. But I wonder if that was simply giving myself an opt-out clause straight away! No matter…what’s important to me in my ramblings is having the luxury of an hour or so to put words ‘to paper’ on a subject which grabs my attention. So here goes…

 

modern families

Yesterday a report was published which found that Women are the main breadwinner in nearly a third of Scottish homes representing the highest proportion in the UK

I was asked to take part in a BBC Radio discussion in my role with the Association of Scottish Businesswomen – as if that alone isn’t scary enough, I then had to try to sound sensible enough to articulate why that might be!

The other people taking part in the discussion were stay-at home Dads and to be honest, I don’t really think that the opposite side of the coin in this debate is about stay-at home parents – does this mean that one third of families ‘allow’ women to earn the higher salary because the man has opted to stay at home and raise the children – I don’t think so.

I believe that there are several reasons for the ‘change in dynamic’, if you can call it that:

  • women no longer have to leave paid employment when they get married (I was stunned when I learned that this was commonplace in the UK not that long before I started my working life in (whispers) 1986!
  • more women than ever before are successfully going through further education, thereby earning themselves good jobs, and amazing career opportunities
  • women can now see many strong role models in the modern world – successful women who are senior managers, running businesses, holding top roles in education & government
  • women are waiting longer to have families, meaning they have reached a certain level in their careers before having children, meaning they return/remain at that same level
  • and of course its becoming more accepted for Dads to share in the stay-at-home role while the Mum goes back to work
  • there is also the effect of a shift in the economic sectors in the UK,  where perhaps the more traditional male jobs in our manufacturing sectors have been massively eroded.

I’m no economist or expert in this, its just a gut reaction from me which says that this is a slow and steady progression for women in the workplace: beginning to gain ground in career & business opportunities where we’re not vilified for wanting to have a balance of work & family life, where we work hard and show our children that a modern world has room for all sorts of families – Mums who work, Dads who share in bringing up the children – surely that makes for a better world all round?

But, the but in all this (there’s always that blast of cold water isn’t there!) has to be that there are very likely to be many more single parent families in this study – I don’t know why that’s not been explored more – women as the sole earner and parent in a family.

And also from those Dads who were in the discussion yesterday: a very real downside to being the stay-at-home parent…feeling excluded from the support networks that are there for Mums who look after the children. Mums at the school gates, in the parks and the toddler groups who don’t really welcome the Dads into their ranks and the distinct lack of groups for the men – how many Dads and Baby magazines or groups have you ever seen advertised? That made me feel sad – as a modern society how can we have that balance if we don’t provide the right support to let the Mums back to work and make the Dads feel they can actually leave the house with their children and be immensely proud of their role as stay-at-home carer? The societal guilt that a working mother feels is often bad enough, without the added pressure of thinking that her partner is also finding it tough as a consequence of their situation.

Well its a debate that for me swings my emotions between feeling pride that women are doing well, and families are achieving balance, to sadness that as a modern society we can’t applaud both parents for doing what comes naturally!

Dundee kettle-bilers

Dundee kettle-bilers

But I’ve got one thing to leave you with – Dundee is going through an amazing resurgence in popularity at the moment and I’m very proud to be born & bred here. Anyone who’s ever visited Verdant Works, our Jute Museum here, will be able to tell you all about Dundee’s 19th & 20th century ‘kettle-bilers’. Women workers were the backbone of Dundee’s mills, meaning their men stayed at home to look after the children, cook the meals and boil the kettles! So perhaps things haven’t really changed all that much after all!

Have a great day,

Alison :)

Are we ‘Enterprising’?

I’ve been involved in some brilliant events this year, exploring the theme of ‘Enterprise’ and I’m really interested in how enterprise and the smaller businesses underpin our economy.

What often makes me stop & think is the actual terms that we use…enterprising, entrepreneur, business person etc.

I run my own business and have been called an entrepreneur by lots of people – sometimes with a hint of admiration, because they see running a business as an aspiration of their own, or somehow think I’m lucky to be doing it, and on at least one occasion is it was because they thought it was great that I was a risk taker! However, I don’t really see myself as walking around with that label above my head – not sure why?

Being enterprising seems (to me at least) to be a slightly strange way to describe this in a business context – one definition of enterprising is ‘having or showing initiative and resourcefulness’ – and I can see that many business people do exhibit that behaviour, but I believe I’ve been that all through my career – so using the word as an adjective to describe a business owner doesnt feel spot on to me.

At any rate, I suppose what I am getting at is, how will we inspire the people of Scotland – whether they are work for others or are coming out of school & wondering what to do next – to get involved in running their own businesses, generating their own income, fueling the economy and making things happen for themselves if we use words like enterprise, entrepreneur which can mean so many different things, to so many different people?

I guess the best thing we can do is to showcase as many success stories as possible so that people can identify themselves in some way with the person in front of them, whether that’s

  • full-time, running a team of people
  • part-time running a business round a family, second job or caring for someone
  • in partnership with someone else who complements your skills
  • a sole trader working at in a role that they love, producing products or services that people value

There are many ways to run a business, and many many measures of success for the individual involved – and no-one else can (or should be allowed to) make judgements on that success. For me, having the control & ability to ‘make my own money’ and do something that I absolutely love to do is the best (and hardest) way to earn a living that I’ve come across so far!

We have a responsibility to give everyone who wants to do it the resources, information and support that they need – Scotland is a nation with a rich history of invention, innovation, business, leaders and success – and I am proud to be running a business in a beautiful place, with a group of peers who constantly inspire and motivate me – and remind me of why I’m doing it in the first place!

As the Vice-President of the Association of Scottish Businesswomen, I am excited to be part of a team delivering the only Scottish conference aimed at women and business – so get the date in your diary: 9 May 2013 – you definitely won’t want to miss it. It will be a day packed full of interesting speakers; debate; workshops to learn, be inspired and motivated; networking and you will come away from it more determined than ever to build a future for Scotland where women-run businesses will continue to make an enormous impact on our economy – that’s much more than a win, win situation!

WBE Conference

WBE Conference

  http://www.wbeconference.co.uk

 

Dundee is the home of the brave!

ozoneeleven.com

I’ve been to several conferences in the last few weeks where the economy, future of the area and business can get ready for future opportunities.

What I have heard has really inspired me, not only as a Scottish business owner, but as a person living, working and bringing up a family in Dundee.

Visit Scotland are involved in a concerted campaign over the next 2 years to bring to life a series of milestones to drive tourism and interest in all things Scottish. From large scale events like the Commonwealth Games & the Ryder Cup to marketing around projects such as the Jubilee, Disney’s new film Brave and the themed years culminating in the Year of Homecoming 2014, there are plenty of opportunities for business to hook into, to help their own marketing work.

Dundee and Angus is a thriving location, and as the sunniest City in Scotland, its easy to see why large capital projects like the Dundee Waterfront and V&A at Dundee are taking place.

Having a bold, forward thinking strategy for a region is just the catalyst that is needed to bring inward investment and attract companies such as Malmaison to open a new flagship hotel.

There are many success stories in the business world too, from BrightSolid’s relaunch of Friends Reunited and their CEO Chris van der Kuyl receiving an award this month from the Institute of Directors; Mackays making amazing jams & preserves in Arbroath, Insights winning Customer Focus award at the Scottish Business Awards, Michelin going from strength to strength at its Dundee plant and many many small businesses continuing to do well in the region, we have much to be proud of and aspire to.

At an Economic Summit in the city yesterday, David Dorward Chief Executive of Dundee City Council led several public and private organisations in an event aimed at ‘laying the foundations for future prosperity in our communities’. Nearly 300 people from local businesses, the education sector, the Chamber of Commerce, the public sector and local & national politicians were in the room to discuss the economic future and positive future developments in Dundee.

And at a National Convention for Youth Employment hosted by Dundee College a large audience heard from Michael Moore MP, Secretary of State for Scotland; Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions plus John Swinney & Angela Constance both MSPs about the issue of how we tackle the future of our young people and ensuring they are well prepared.

However….here is my own personal take on things with a note of caution:

POINT 1: At all of these recent events very very little was done to engage pre, during or after the event via social media. More than 66% of adults use one or more social media platforms – and its widely unknown that 46% of facebook users are aged 45 or older! I certainly found no official event or host organisation use of social media on the day – if they did, they certainly didnt promote it at the events.

At the summit yesterday, there were a handful (less than 10 of us) on twitter using #DundeeEconomicSummit – with a room full of business professionals, I find this quite disturbing. As leaders, engagers in the community and business people, how do we expect to be able to take the brilliant messages & optimism that was in that room and share it if we don’t use a communication tool which is used by so many? There are some very good pieces in the local newspaper today – but I wonder how many of you have seen that?

POINT 2: what is the take-away concrete action from any of these events to keep the audience engaged with the process and build on all the positive things that happened? Apart from yesterday, where we were invited to email someone (without being given their address) if we felt we’d like to take part in ‘something’ in the future, there were absolutely no real next steps for the audiences – no dates to diarise, no websites to look up or register with and absolutely no social media platforms to receive ongoing specific news from.

So in summary – I’ve been very lucky to have attended some exceptional and really inspirational events in the recent weeks but afterwards am simply sent on my way and little by little, as the day job creeps back in, that enthusiasm & energy seeps away and we go back into our individual roles, losing the power of the larger group and movement for future good. So I guess its up to me to make my own next steps count!

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Thanks for reading…….Alison

Keeping your Mojo!

As a business owner, its really really easy to be busy with doing the work, keeping clients happy & meeting project deadlines. But there is also the running of the business to be done, and all the necessary (but not so exciting) jobs that come within your job description. For me, I absolutely love the project based side of what we do, the variety of clients that we are working with and meeting so many different people.

But what don’t I like…..book-keeping, filing, and the admin side of what it takes to keep a successful business running. And while I am sharing (hee hee) I will also admit to being in love with social media (facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc etc etc) – and I would like to share a blog post that totally kicked me in the guts recently – in a good way!

I first found Jeff Bullas via twitter and he has a prolific blog which I look out for, and thoroughly enjoy reading. But this one in particular made me really think.

Titled ‘The Secret Behind Every Successful Blogger’, I was intrigued to read more – but what I actually discovered was a re-connection with why I do what I do.

Here is an excerpt from the blog that I connect with in every which way:

“Find Work That is Play

I came across a quote by the famous economist Dr. Paul Samuelson that encapsulates one of the secrets to success in life.

“Never underestimate the vital importance of finding early in life the work that for you is play. This turns possible underachievers into happy warriors.”

Most of us do not have the privilege of discovering this early on in life but stumble upon it in later years. There is no rhyme or reason as to when or how it occurs, it could be an ephiphany or it maybe a slow awakening but if you discover it grab it with both hands, do not ignore it but embrace it with all the energy and optimistic obsession you can muster.

Work that is play is the combination of innate ability and aptitude that combines with passion to create a synergy that lubricates life’s journey.

Sir Ken Robinson in his book “The Element”  says this about discovering being in your element, “it is the place where the things we love and the things we’re good at come together”

Questions You Should Ask Yourself

So how do you find this element? What questions should I be asking to discover work that is play?

Here are some questions you should be starting to ask yourself.

  • What comes easily to you?
  • What do you read about till 2.30 in the morning
  • What gets you up at 4.30am?
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • What kind of things do people compliment you on?
  • What activities give your spirit energy?  “

I feel very privileged to be running a business, doing a job that I love, surrounded by a brilliant team and meeting lots of interesting people on a weekly basis in our local business community. Of course, sometimes the humdrum does get in the way and I have to force myself to work on some of the tasks which aren’t at the top of my list – but they don’t overwhelm the good feelings.

So I can honestly say that nearly three years on in my business, I’m still motivated to get up at 6am, work through til 10pm if need be, and often get that tingly excited feeling inside which TOTALLY reminds me that I am very lucky to be in the position of running a successful business: helping people realise that perfect event, or rediscover their business goals & vision and create a marketing plan that gets them on track.  I hope you enjoy reading Jeff’s blog and top up your Mojo levels!

And if you’re using twitter (@alisonhendo), facebook or linkedin, say hello!

Alison x

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