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.

 

 

 

Malta pictures: most Instagrammable

Over the summer we had the chance to visit a beautiful island on the Mediterranean between Sicily and North Africa; while we were only there for a few days, my Malta pictures are some of our favourites from recent travels!

We visited in August, European summertime and yes, it was hot.

The highlight for that month annually is the colourful religious festivals which take place in all the Maltese villages of the island. Every church and cathedral is lit up and evening street festivals are held just about every night, with performers and bands, fireworks and an all-round fabulous vibe.

There’s even daytime fireworks – something I’ve never seen before! Oh, and canon fire wakes you up at 8am which takes some adjustment but then it’s just plain amusing.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Malta’s population is predominantly Roman Catholic and the churches, relics and crosses across the island make that very obvious.

Interestingly though, Malta feels really multi-cultural. I picked up on accents from all over the world on the street and even on their commercial radio stations where I heard a number of varying English and American accents along with Irish and even Australian.

The destination is renowned for its intriguing historical sites associated with a succession of rulers including the Romans, Moors, Knights of Saint John, French and British.

Malta boasts many fortresses, Megalithic temples and the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, a subterranean complex of halls and burial chambers dating to circa 4000 B.C. Really extraordinary.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

There’s something for everyone in Malta, and I’d pitch it as an excellent option against the coasts of Spain, France or Italy in the summer. It’s probably a bit cheaper than these neighbours too.

Travel for me offers a creative outlet, in that I relish the chance to take photos of the beauty of the world around me. Malta pictures are dreamy – the place is so sublime it’s basically impossible to take a bad shot.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Malta pictures: most Instagrammable

Architecture

I can’t wait to get back to Malta one day and explore more – there’s much of the northern side we missed, but we had a good look around the south of the island.

We stayed in an amazing, authentic 700 year old villa that likely houses a ghost or two.

In fact, they used to make cheese where we stayed, and goats once roamed the lower part of the building that now acts as a casual outdoor area with a pool around which we spent hot afternoons drinking a local brew, Cisk.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Napoleon reportedly stayed in the place next door to where we were based. It was then an armoury, and on further investigation I discovered that historically, relations between France and Malta have been tumultuous.

Malta’s positioned in such a spot that it’s ended up in the centre of many wars and struggles for power over the years, including during WWII.

I spotted several plaques in the capital, Valletta, commemorating Malta’s involvement in recent wars as part of the Commonwealth (same as Australia). In fact, Malta is one of just three European countries that form part of this alliance, alongside the UK and Cyprus.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

A rich history (both modern and ancient), change and rebuilding following periods of war, plus fascinating neighbours bringing a range of cultural influence means that every street, window, door and archway on the island offers an Instagrammable moment.

Blue Grotto

We were staying only about five minutes’ drive from the Blue Grotto, a haven for divers and free spirits alike.

Cliff drops, sparkling blue Mediterranean waves and the option to take a speed boat for just €8 means this is a must-visit in Malta.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Get there early to avoid queues.

The sea caverns you’ll cruise into on the water are awe-inspiring and jetting around these parts feels like nothing less than an adventure out of a Bond film.

There’s plenty of Malta pictures opportunities here, but we also captured a little bit of video to share:

Travel tip: Book a meal at Blue Creek Restaurant which is positioned on a cliff-side not too far from the Blue Grotto. Request a table outside because the views are sensational. The food is well priced and delicious.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

While you’re in this area, you might like to visit the Hagar Qim temples (Megalithic temple structures built on the Maltese islands between 3600 and 3000 BC), Mnajdra temples (three conjoined Neolithic temples dating from about 3000 BC) and the Ghar Dalam cave and museum which contains bone remains of animals that were stranded and subsequently became extinct in Malta at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum.

Valletta waterfront and city centre

Malta’s striking capital, Valletta, is surrounded by spectacular bodies of water; cruise ships line the harbour alongside expensive yachts moored at Vittoriosa.

In stark contrast to these contemporary symbols of wealth and decadence are the fortified structures that date back thousands of years.

We highly recommend investing a couple of hours of your time in a harbour cruise where you get the best views of such buildings. Plus, there’s really no better way to experience the grandeur of the area and some of the world’s prettiest waterways.

Cruises here take in two of the largest natural harbours in the Mediterranian, Marsamxett and Valletta.

 

Malta harbour - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Travel tip: Captain Morgan cruises are heavily advertised, but if you buy tickets on the ground you can also cruise with Luzzu. Start at Valletta and take a fast ferry over to Sliema, or make your way to Sliema first and begin there. Tickets are available on the waterfront in both spots.

We scored tickets for €10 (down from €16 each) on Luzzu, and while we had a small panic that the boat was much smaller than that of Captain Morgan’s, the experience turned out to be much more fun, personal, free and enjoyable. We absolutely recommend you take this option that we happened upon by taking a chance on a street vendor working for Luzzu.

 

Malta harbour - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

While you’re in the city, you might also be interested to see the Malta Experience which offers an immersive trip through Malta’s fascinating history, and the Knights Hospital which showcases more about how this critical 250-year period in Malta’s history influenced everything from architecture to folklore and even the nation’s flag.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Marsaxlokk fishing village

This small and picturesque fishing village is a must-see for perfect Malta pictures and sublime Instagrammables.

Marsaxlokk is popular for a daily open-air market and offers a selection of some of the best fish restaurants in Malta.

I was there around lunchtime and can verify there are plenty of specials to enjoy, the only problem is figuring out which one to try.

There are lovely walks to be had around the harbour here, and you can even take a dip in secluded and untainted swimming zones.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Mdina

The history of the walled Mdina can be traced back more than 4000 years.

It is said that in 60 A.D. the Apostle St. Paul lived here after being shipwrecked. Wandering the narrow old streets of Mdina is like taking a trip back in time.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

The romantic alleyways date back to the 12th Century and over the years has shifted from housing nobles to then falling into disrepair around war times; and now are called home by those who can afford an apartment in unique, historical surrounds.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Malta is a destination brimming with beauty, history and plenty of wonderful Instagrammable moments.

A highly recommended destination, and one we suggest you enjoy with friends or family.

A huge thank you to Robin who inspired the trip, and Anna + Anna who also made this escape such fun!

 

Malta

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