Happy Thursday everyone, I hope you are enjoying the heat wave we are currently having...
A few weeks ago I started a new series called Business ramblings, where I shared my thoughts on my first 4 years of business and how things have changed from the first year. My conclusion was that as much as I worked my butt off in the first couple of years I am now looking to streamline things and get my life back and to start enjoying things around me more. (maybe easier said than done!)
There were many points that came up from the post and many areas covered so I thought it might be a good idea to go back and look at some of those points in more detail.
The thing I want to talk about today is Social media. Again please excuse my writings as they do normally turn into more of a ramble, hence the name of the feature!
Last time I described Social media a time sap and I still believe it is. I guess it all depends on how much time it is sapping and the results you are getting from it.
When I started my business 4 years ago, I lived on twitter and Facebook; I used it as a really important tool to get my name and my business ethos out there. At the time of starting I had no bookings so my time was spent promoting and marketing my business and it was the perfect FREE tool for doing so.
I did such a good job that I even started giving talks about social media and one 2 one lessons on the subject to supplement my income while the planning was taking off. I still believe that twitter especially was a huge part of getting my brand and business out into the market places and people getting to know who I was. I would often meet with suppliers and they told me they thought I had been going much longer than I had simply because of my presence on Facebook and twitter. For that reason I LOVE twitter it gave me a step up and a real boost to the business.
Forward on 4 years and now I don’t feel as if I use twitter and Facebook half as much as I used to. Why? Well I simple don’t have the time!
Social media takes up your time, your energy and it is something you really have to dedicate yourself to too get anything from it. When I started I had the time to make it work for me, following the right people, engaging with them, connecting with people. I often found myself chatting with complete strangers late into the night as part of some secret club. However now…….not so much!
Social media can make you feel you are part of something, make you feel that you are in a gang; it can make you feel less lonely. Being self-employed and working from home is a pretty lonely place to be, and having people out there that are connecting with you in the same situation can often be incredibly reassuring.
However it can also have the adverse effect, it can swallow you up, it can eat your time and it can have a negative effect if you don’t use it properly or play by the rules.
In my time I have seen bulling, name calling, slagging matches, you name it. People using social media for all types of wrong and not playing by the rules.
This sucks bug time!
These days I only look at social media as a business tool and that is it. I have separate personal accounts for twitter and Facebook and do my best to not mix the two. Why? Because my work is my work, my non industry friends don’t care about the weddings I’ve planned and they certainly don’t want endless links to the blog each day. In fact if any of my friends start following me on twitter I tell them not to and direct them to my personal account. The same for Facebook
However I still feel it is important to have a voice for people to know it is you behind each social media account; your personality has to shine through otherwise your followers could be chatting to a robot.
I have looked at my Blog stats and broken down where I get most of my traffic from in regards to social media and referring sites. And from here I have been able to see where I need to use my time most wisely
Pinterst is WAY in front of the other two, so this is where I spend more of my time. I pin images form my own blog posts but I also pin a lot of other stuff as well. If you are only pinning your own work it can get pretty boring for your followers and you are defeating the point of pinterest. People often email me and say how useful they find my pinterest boards, how they used them for inspiration when planning their wedding and that really makes me happy. I LOVE pinterest and I love the fact that is doesn’t have to be all about weddings. I have found myself pinning more house stuff recently and as for the food and cute cat and animal photos don’t get me started!! But I just see this as a way for my followers to engage with me more and get to know me more. I have heard of photographers get bookings from their pinterest accounts; it is such a visual tool that it is perfect for anyone working in a creative industry.
BUT don’t let time slip away with you. At the beginning just like any social media you have to spend time building up your boards and a following. However I now allow myself a set amount for time a day on pinterest otherwise I could be on there all day.
Facebook is a great visual tool but also great for connecting with people and for sharing each other’s work. This is probably the oldest and most popular forms foo Social media and most business these days will have a business Facebook page. Some companies will build a Facebook page and a good following before getting a website and some wild use this instead of a website.
I used to use this a lot more than I do now, however I still find it a useful tool for connecting with people, asking questions, getting feedback on subjects and new material for the blog. I try and keep my albums updated as I know that brides will look at these for inspiration.
The thing I personally use Facebook for most though is a few private groups I am members of. Networking privately with a few trusted industry friends is a great way to seek out advice and generally blow off some steam. With groups like this it is also important to meet up with people in real life. Networking is still important no matter what stage your business is at.
I have to admit I have a love hate relationship with twitter. As I mentioned I used to use it A LOT, but now I find I rarely have anything to say. My life is pretty dull. When I’m not planning weddings, I am mainly sat behind a computer for 12 hours a day, so I really don’t have that much to say. I am also very busy so just don’t have the time. I do my best to reply to anyone who asks me a question, or to thank anyone who RT’s a post or adds a link from the blog. I don’t often connect with people as I just don’t have time to sit and constantly read my feed.
I am aware that I could probably do with using it as a networking tool more.
I see lots of industry people on twitter constantly chatting away, telling people about their day, endless conversations with people, and to be honest I do wonder where they get the time. If I do chat with people it is more often via a direct message as I’d rather keep my conversations private. And don’t get me started on #WW and #FF! That is another blog post altogether!!
As time has gone by with twitter and the more followers I have, I have realised that I can’t say the sort of things I used to say. I used to go on there to have a rant but I have learnt that this is just unprofessional and leads to no good. So I have learnt to keep my mouth shut and if I have got something to say, to use my personal account.
– Google + is becoming big news, and is a wonderful tool for SEO.
– Iinkedin is big in the corporate world. I used to be on it but found it was no good for creative types like me, again though it is all subjective.
– Instagram is fab, but again I see it more for personal use. I mainly post pictures of Dee and of my dinner (yes I am that annoying person at the restaurant)
– Stumbleupon, surfingbird and many other wedding related sharing platforms…..so many I can’t name them all.
Wow yet another full on ramble!
I guess in summery what I am saying is that in the beginning, in the first year of business twitter, Facebook etc are all great tools to get your business out there and for people to know who you are.
But you need to use it wisely. You get back what you put in, same as anything in life. As time goes by though you will find you have less time for it, so this is where you need to streamline and find the ones that work for you the best.
Always remember you are running a business and stay professional throughout. And with anything in life don’t forget your please and thank you’ s!