How to enjoy social media

I can’t be the only one to have spotted all the headlines earlier this year – one of the top 10 new years’ resolutions around the globe is about quitting social media.

Yet, ironically over the Christmas break I discovered how to enjoy social media again!

As someone who works all day in front of a computer screen, and further, with a focus on digital content, I have experienced major bouts of social media burnout.

Not ideal for someone who works in my industry and actually, used to really enjoy social media marketing and strategy for business and branding purposes.

According to a survey by Bidvine, this year more people plan to quit social media than smoking. Bit extreme, but I can understand why – there’s the compulsive (and often anti-social) behaviour around checking Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; pointless posts, blurry pictures, and useless information being shared; not to mention the psychological impact that many prestigious universities are studying regarding the link between overuse of social media and an increase in depression and anxiety.

After all that, why should we engage and try to enjoy social media anymore?

Well, for one thing I’d advocate social media is an excellent way to stay connected, particularly for the millions of us who travel, live or commute for jobs and lives away from family and friends.

It’s also essential for business marketing, and of course for the ever rising freelancer economy that’s had the chance to thrive thanks to technology that allows us to work anywhere.

In fact, it’s estimated that by 2020, 50 per cent of the United States’ workforce will be freelancers (Forbes, 2016), and social media provides a free, convenient and clever channel for self-promotion (which equals work contracts and income!).

I started to enjoy social media again last year, inspired by pretty locations I visited including Kent (UK) and Malta, but taking stock over the Christmas break in Ibiza was what really got me back on track.

If you’re over it all but know you need to re-discover the essential elements of how to enjoy social media again (for work, self-promotion or business), here’s what I have learnt.

 

5 ways to enjoy social media again

Don’t get caught up in broadcasting

While I love the fact we can schedule Facebook posts and Buffer Tweets, stories to LinkedIn and now even images to Instagram, it’s easy to let the robot do all the work.

In other words, I was sending a lot of content out in an automated manner (broadcasting), but by the time it surfaced to social media I didn’t really care (mostly because I forgot it would appear!).

Sure, it helped us score some blog click-throughs on content and automation is definitely helpful for the busy business-person, but I was forgetting to actually spend time on the social media channel I was sharing to.

Now I’m back to being interested in only the channels and topics that light me up (such as travel, dogs, technology and lifestyle magazine type features).

After all, if I’m not engaged, why should I expect my audience to be, and how am I going to get any fun out of the experience?

Lesson: refine the content you are sharing and browsing, to that which really interests you.

 

Schedule time for social media

Find out what times work for your audience engagement, and set up a routine that fits with your lifestyle without cutting into it.

For me, I post to Instagram first thing in the morning (while I’m at the gym on an exercise bike!), I glance at Twitter on the commute to work on the bus (and I tweet or retweet at this time); I post to LinkedIn in the evening and engage on there for five minutes before dinner, and I spend ten minutes scheduling Facebook page updates and also replying to comments or messages that have come through during the day.

Yes, I still Buffer (schedule) content, but I’m doing so more mindfully, and I’m enjoying being present on these platforms again rather than losing the momentum that can come with everything being automated.

I’m limiting the time that I am spending on each social media channel, and I have a routine for engaging – rather than compulsively checking or posting instead of talking to my friends or partner over a meal.

Lesson: schedule social media into your day, as you would organise other tasks. Also, don’t take it too seriously – we’re back to trying to having fun with it, remember?

 

Re-purpose your content

Certainly, it’s easy to be inspired to enjoy social media in a place like Ibiza – a beautiful, sunny Spanish island!

But how to keep that up when back at work and it’s raining outside? Surface your lovely older content! This might be in the form of photos, blogs, stories you’ve written, top tips, how-to instructions…

We’ve got so much content from ‘before’ we became more active on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram; it’s just a matter of having a little dig though your own archives and planning creative ways to share it.

I find a nice way to do this is to theme your days on social media – e.g. Monday could be ‘Monday motivation’; Tuesday for us is #ttot (‘travel talk on Tuesday’ or ‘travel Tuesday’); Wednesday is often inspiration or wisdom themed, and we like #tbt (throwback Thursday) as a way of sharing past adventures; Friday is also often ‘fun’ themed or a bit more light-hearted coming into the weekend.

Sort your older material into themes that work for your niche/brand and purpose (whether that be business or personal branding) and then you have it on hand ready to share without too much thought on any given day.

Lesson: this method means you’re never short of content or ideas for things to share on social media.

 

Get involved in the community

Joining groups, adding comments or starting conversations online can be time-consuming, but if you choose your spaces wisely, you can effectively grow your audience and engagement online as well as potentially discover business contacts and even make friends.

LinkedIn is a particularly important space to engage, and there are countless groups you can join to virtually network with industry colleagues from all over the world.

This is also a chance to demonstrate your area of expertise by participating in conversations relevant to your niche.

There are groups you can join on Facebook, Instagram and Google+ too, that enable you to ‘network’, share content and support like-minded people. For example, I’m a member of various bloggers’ groups and professional networks for content and communications professionals.

It can be fun sharing knowledge and getting to know others, albeit in the virtual realm.

Lesson: it’s called social media for a reason – it’s more fun if you are ‘social’.

 

Choose your favourites

As in life, we eventually learn to not spread ourselves too thin.

It’s very tempting to try to be on all platforms and there was a time I was trying to be active on up to ten spaces! It’s impossible and in the end doesn’t work for you – unless you have a team, you’ll be spread too thin both in time and content.

My advice is choose three or four that complement each other, so Cooper and I now focus on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; Cooper mostly manages our YouTube channel while I enjoy engaging on LinkedIn.

Certainly, browse the others out of interest if and when you have time, but as far as effectively growing your channels and having fun on social media again, stick with a manageable number of offerings.

Lesson: spend your time on the channels that you like the best, and learn how to make the most of their offerings.
What do you make of all this – have you conquered the social media vs time available in life beast? Please do share thoughts, tips, experience and your suggestions in the comments.

 

 

How to make your social media profile work for you

 

Why bother updating your social media profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or anywhere else you’re active online? Because you can build awareness around your own skills, passions and expertise in readiness for any positive career change you are seeking!

Here’s five ways you can make your social media profile work for you now.

 

What is a social media profile?

Your social media profile is the paragraph (or page) that you compose ‘about you’. You’ll spot all sorts of profiles around the web, ranging from some that say nothing at all about the person who owns them, all the way through to nicely crafted profiles that share the right mix of fun and professional elements about a person.

While it’s important (in my view) to make the most of the space you have on any of the platforms you might favour, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn, for anyone wanting to more effectively manage a professional online presence this year and next, LinkedIn is the one to polish, so it’s the social media profile I’ll allude to most in this piece.

LinkedIn is a particularly important tool for anyone who is:

– building a business

– building a personal brand or profile

– looking for a new job opportunity (now or possibly in the future)

Used effectively, you can be discovered by employers, recruiters and potential clients on LinkedIn based on your interests, experience and skills. It’s also really useful for growing your networks and influence. I’ve had success in both aforementioned areas through keeping my profile looking good.

As with anything in life, you only get out of it what you put in.

For this reason, it’s worth setting aside thirty minutes to craft your profile on LinkedIn, as well as any other key places on the web where you spend time developing or sharing content.

 

Five ways to make your social media profile work for you

Upload a profile photo

Not everyone loves having a photo of themselves on display, but in a professional setting it is helpful to give others an idea about who they are liaising with on the phone or via email.

Don’t you prefer it when you can put a face to a name?

A professional head/shoulders shot isn’t that hard to arrange these days, and this type of photo is preferable for use anywhere you are promoting yourself as an expert in your field.

While selfies, snaps taken at family barbeques or at the pub with friends are fun, consider how you want to be represented visually in a work context. It’s probably not in a blurry photo or with a glass of bubbles in your hand!

Pro tip: If you do not have access to a professional head shot for business purposes, ask someone you know who takes nice photos to snap several options of you against a clean background (e.g. white), and ensure you pay attention to the finer details like tidy hair, neat clothes and apply powder to your face if you tend to be shiny in pictures.

 

‘You’ in 140 characters

The ‘about me’ space in many of your social profiles including on Instagram and Twitter offers a chance to write a snapshot summary in around 140 characters that can showcase what you stand for.

I liken this to the 30 second elevator pitch concept; if this was all anyone was to read about you, be sure that it captures relevant details about your personality, professional intentions and experience.

 

Check your contact information

Make it easy for people to do business with you.

Always check your email address, phone number (if relevant) and social media links are up to date – it would be terrible to miss an email about your dream job or client because of a typo, incorrect link or broken alert forwarding set-up.

 

Details matter

The ‘details’ involved in the various sections across LinkedIn or even the additional extras you can add to your Google+ or Facebook profiles may take you a little longer to complete, but it’s the most important part.

Here you have the chance to share exactly what you do as part of your job, the knowledge you have that may help others, what you’ve previously achieved and what your core skills are, so don’t be shy!

Pro tip: Just as you should for any online copy (think SEO (search optimisation)), think about the key terms those looking for your skills and services might use if they were searching for you.

Be careful not to use phrases that are too clever (will others actually search for that if they need someone with your expertise?); but by the same token, if you have experience in a niche area like speaking a foreign language or coding, be sure that it’s mentioned so it appears in the search.

 

Have fun

Finally, don’t be afraid to mention a quirky or fun fact that might mean you find something in common with an industry counterpart.

For me, being a ‘dog person’  has meant I can have a joke and conversation about our furry friends with others I’ve met (online or in person) who feel the same … then we get on with business.

In any situation where we are networking, finding common ground is always really helpful. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s often not the work-related aspects of our lives that help us forge fast bonds with people we work with but rather, it’s about those commonalities around passions, hobbies and life experiences.

 

Time to take action

make your social media profile work Sarah Blinco LinkedIn updatesOver to you…

But if you need assistance with your professional social media presence and profile coming into 2017 I’m resurrecting strictly limited social media consulting and copy editing services over the holidays and at discounted rates (it’s Christmas, after all!) for anything booked before 3 January 2017.

Email me for more information and to let me know what you need help with.

 

 

 

Set up a blog today – 8 simple steps

Cooper and I have been blogging and creating content for a while now, and we’re often asked how to set up a blog.

We got into this scene initially out of a need to stay in touch with family and friends, after all, it’s easier to share a story once (on a blog) than tell it 25 times to different people, without images!

As time went on, the hobby of lifestyle blogging meant we had the chance to review cool stuff – tech goodies and destinations.

Best of all, we found other like-minded travel bloggers, and events like TBEX, Traverse, Travel Massive and Problogger where we have the chance to mingle with inspired digital nomads who not only believe – but live and breathe – the mantra that you can design your own life, and that anything is possible.

Because I work in the communications industry though, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to learn and grow within digital and social media realms.

I’ve worked on a number of different content management systems (CMS) and have been responsible for the transfer of critical business web assets through many a website migration.

Recently too, I’ve had the chance to help many friends to set up a blog (both for hobby and business blogging plus personal branding purposes).

Because I’ve been through this process a number of times now, and because many of the questions are the same, I thought I’d take this chance to summarise exactly how I do it, and share some of the items that have proved useful to others in the past.

First up, here’s how I do it, and you can set up a blog like this too…

 

An 8 step cheat sheet on how to set up a blog

Important: This guide is targeting those of you using your own domain (e.g. yourname.com) and an internet service provider such as Dreamhost:

 

1. This is not a free option, so I advise if you’re wanting to go that way, sign up for a free Tumblr, WordPress or Blogger account and just start writing and creating.

They’re very easy and have tutorials available to answer your questions.

 

2. Choose your domain name, whether it be yourname.com (e.g. sarahblinco.com) or blog name (e.g. travellivelearn.com).You’ll need to find out what’s available and then pay for it. On average, this will cost you around US $10. I prefer to use dreamhost.com (you’ll find out why in a minute), but you can use any domain sales site to buy your address on the web.

 

3. Sign-in to your host to update your account details. Include anything it asks you for, such as your address and email details. Here you can get familiar with your service provider’s dashboard, which is where you can do everything from setting up email addresses to paying for your annual hosting plan, attaching special add-ons to your site and installing your content management system (CMS).

 

4. Organise your annual hosting plan. I prefer to use Dreamhost (as above) because of their one-click WordPress install. This means that with a click of a button, Dreamhost will install the WordPress CMS onto your new site. It’s so easy. But first you’ll need to let them know you want to use them for hosting which costs from around US $100 to $200 per year.

You’ll have to sign-in and set up a payment option for this. I’m not going to go into detail here, because Dreamhost has a very helpful chat service and if you need any assistance they’ll be able to advise.

But, once you have your hosting sorted, simply select the ‘one click WordPress install’ option in the Goodies section of the Dashboard, and your new site will be well on its way to creation! By the way, I am not commissioned by Dreamhost, I just think their services is worth talking about. There are other service providers now offering a WordPress one-click install, but I’ve been using Dreamhost for years now and am entirely happy with their offering.

 

5. Set up your site! Once this admin is complete, you’ll then receive an email saying you have access to your site. Then the fun begins. Your login will generally be yoursite.com/login (changing ‘yoursite’ to your own URL); You’ll then be able to access your WordPress dashboard, which is where you will spend most of your time from now on designing the look and feel of your site, and blogging, of course.

 

6. Now you choose a theme. Take a look at the theme options and see what suits your needs. In future, you might like to seek free or paid themes to install, but for now I’d suggest you have a play around with what’s already there. Once you’re happy with the look and feel of one of the themes, select it and click ‘install’.

 

7. Refine the look and feel. From here, you’ll want to go through and set up ‘pages’ (static options, e.g. ‘about’, ‘contact’); and you can begin to blog using the ‘posts’ option. There are many options within WordPress, but essentially you can teach yourself all about it by clicking through and having a play around in each to see what they do. Don’t forget to manipulate colour schemes, fonts and images where you’re given the option to.

 

8. Play with plugins. Finally, plugins enable you to polish off your site. Plugins are the way you can add social media sharing buttons to the sidebar (I quite like the ‘subscribe, connect, follow’ widget); how you can include SEO (Yoast is a good one) and backup your site remotely (I use Updraft which backs up my content to Dropbox once a week).

 

Side note – buying a domain name but not paying for annual hosting.

You can use your domain name (bought in step one, above) and combine it with free blog hosting such as Google’s blogger.com , WordPress.com or Tumblr (nice and easy to use), rather than paying for annual hosting if this is just to be a fun part-time hobby. Click on the provider links for more information on this if you’re interested.

 

Help!

If you need content help or advice on how to set up a blog, email me or leave a comment below.

If you need technical assistance, I’ve found reliable coding help on guru.com (and I highly recommend Zerosoft Technologies who you’ll find there for WordPress fixes and theme manipulation).

My best advice yet

Further reading to help you out…

How to start a travel blog – an in-depth look at the how and why to start your travel and lifestyle blog, including my must-have apps and time management tips.

Best blogging tips – 9 bite-sized pieces of advice to get you blogging right now.

Why it’s important to comment on blogs – the etiquette, and how this can help you with networking and promoting your own new site.

Words to go tips – here’s some juicy tips from some of the very best in the business. Well worth ten minutes of your time. Add it to your reading list.

Social media cross-promotion

Keen to promote your new space and interested in live-casting? Try Periscope – here’s our ultimate guide on how to get started and make the most of this cool platform.

Google+ might not be at the top of everyone’s promotional hit-list, but I still find it’s full of quality content, and might help improve your rankings and authorship cred. Top tips for beginners featured in this in-depth analysis.

Facebook – you’re probably on it, and quite possibly have set up a page to complement and promote your new blog, but are you using it to your advantage? Double check against these five things you might not be doing on your Facebook page.

 

Questions? Comments? Drop us a line below…