Thursday, 31 January 2013

Community Management 101

So, the 4th Monday of January was apparently Community Manager Appreciation Day. This came as a shock to me as I am a community manager and I didn't feel any more appreciated than any other day. I had to come to the radio station with banana sick on my shoe. That's how appreciated I am.

Regardless, it actually works quite well for me because it seems like a good day to talk about community management, a post I have been vaguely planning in my head for a little while. Convenient huh?

There are a large number of Community Managers working for companies right now, whose sole job is to manage the online community of the brand. This includes interacting with customers, offering customer service, highlighting areas which may be a concern and generally developing and increasing awareness of the brand through social media.

Here are three ways that you can apply the principles of community management to your followers and blog readers, developing casual passers by into regulars is what will ultimately build your community!

  • Be Responsive.

 Always respond to queries and comments. It might feel like a hassle to reply to every single comment you get, but acknowledging your audience is the first point to engaging with them. There's a big difference between someone who sits up on a pillar preaching at people and someone who gets down and mingles with the masses. That's what community management is all about.

Obviously, if you are getting 100 comments a day, you probably won't have time to respond to every single one. I tell clients to apply the following rules.

Have they commented and been responded to before? If you replied to them yesterday and the day before, you can probably let one day slide.

Is their comment just a link to their own blog? These can be skipped.

Are they someone you know in actual real life? They probably won't be offended if you don't reply today.

Answer questions with snappy answers, respond to emails within a set time frame (48 hours is the norm for most businesses) and if you really don't have time to respond to a positive tweet with gusto, a quick retweet (that little button with the two arrows pointing round to each other) will probably do the trick.

  • Keep Track

Keep a note, either mentally or in a document somewhere, of people that are engaging with you on a regular basis. That person who always likes your status on LinkedIn? They are sharing your update with their connections. You don't have to reciprocate every single time, but if you see something they post that you genuinely think is useful or interesting, go ahead and and share. It will reinforce the relationship between you and your brand and the individual.

I suggest to my clients that 'favoriting' tweets where their organisation is favorably mentioned means you have something to refer to when looking for testimonial comments or just a bit of a boost.

  • Deal With Negativity.

One of the key roles of the community manager is to keep a beady eye out for anything negative that pops up about the organisation they work for. A community manager for a larger firm will have some tools at their disposal that make this easier, the last few months have seen a tidal wave of Social Media management tools released that make knowing what people are saying about your brand easier than it's ever been.

Try Social Mention for a free way to search for your brand or username. It's not hugely effective but it will give you a little idea.

You can also use Techorati to search for mentions in blogs, it seems to have a more effective search algorithm that Social Mention but focuses solely on the blogging community.

I have a sort of three-level scale for dealing with negative comments.

1. Totally pointless and nonconstructive  Like 'YOU HAVE CRAP HAIR' or some other equally irrelevant rubbish. Because like, my hair is awesome. 

I delete these type of comments as they offer nothing in the way of helpfulness towards my brand. They don't happen very often at all, in fact only once for me personally  but when working with larger organisations I have found the easiest thing to do with these type of interactions is just delete them. You might find that a small number of people will notice you do this and you get accused of hiding negativity towards yourself. So? This type of pettiness doesn't bother large brands and it shouldn't bother you. Just make sure you are dealing with constructive comments in a powerful way.

2. Disagreement. Sometimes people won't agree with your opinion or ideas.

Firstly, take it as a strong positive that the individual has made their disagreement known. The main hurdle to overcome is getting people to know about you in the first place. To disagree, they must have read your article/opinion. So that's a big yay. Deal with disagreement in a positive way. First, check your facts. Are you actually right? That will help. Then, put across why you are right in a short, succinct manner. I like to apply the 'Is it too long for twitter' rule. If it's too long for twitter, I've probably said something pointless. If I'm not right, that's embarrassing. If a large brand or organisation is wrong, it is really humiliating  That's why it is important to double and triple check facts, statistics and points before going live with any copy.

It's okay to get into a debate with people whose opinion differs from yours. This happens quite a bit on the internet, don't be afraid to have a fierce exchange of opinion on something which you believe passionately in.

Just a note, be cautious that your own opinion is in line with that of the ethos of your brand or what you are looking to achieve with your online persona. I.e it probably won't help to have a strong public view on immigration or race issues if you are trying to get a new job. Pick your battles very carefully with a view of maintaining a positive persona.

3. Constructive. When people comment that they are having issues with any of my DIY posts, or that there is an issue with my blog layout. 

Deal with these straight away! I like to send a quick response saying 'Thank's for letting me know, I'll look into this right away, how embarrassing!" Then, once I've fixed the issue, I offer a little shout out on the blog. "Thank's to so-and-so for letting me know my sidebar wasn't quite right, I fixed it now! If you see something funny on the blog, let me know on twitter @katy_clouds or by emailing me!" It's a great opportunity to sneak another link to your contact details in as well.

I hope these little tips on community management will prove useful to you. These are points which are relevant to even the smallest of blogs or companies, right up to big organisations. If you have found this article interesting or helpful, I would be honoured if you would endorse me on LinkedIn or 'share' with Google+ by clicking the little 'g' below. As usual, I'm also interested in comments and constructive suggestions, comment below or email me for a quick response.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Birthday Wishlist

February is my birthday month! It's just far enough away from Christmas that I feel justified in writing a wishlist...

1. Polaroid Z2300 from Photojojo

2. 'K' Jumper from Topshop 

3. Hello Disco Bootie from Modcloth 

4. Skullcandy DB Hesh Headphones from Amazon 

5. Notting Hill Gate Crystal Cap Nail Polish from Nails Inc 

6. Babliss Thermo Rollers from Argos 

I'm working super hard this week writing an e-course for job seekers who want to utilise social media. Right now the whole thing is way too long as I kind of sat down and just spilled my recruitment and social media guts all over the page. I'll be launching that, along with 50 ways you can use social media in your job search, hopefully next week.

Happy Monday!  

Friday, 25 January 2013

How to link your Instagram account

Instagram is a great way to meet new friends and engagers online who share similar interests to you. If you haven't got an account already, it's basically twitter but for photographs. The same rules of hashtags and @whomever applies. It's fun to see peeks into the lives of both celebrities who use the app and regular people across the world. I love finding new and interesting people on Instagram!

I love using my phone to capture images of my day, you can follow me on Instagram here.

If you would like to directly link your Instagram account, you can do so with a vanity URL:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Quitting Your Day Job - 3 Myths

So, I quit my day job nearly 8 months ago. I used to work in recruitment. Which basically involved very long days high financial compensation, but never seeing my son and being constantly stressed out and 'busy'. I kind of developed a false sense of self-importance as well. You know the thing "Oh I work in the city, I'm so important".

I wrote this post on my choices between working and motherhood.

So I was sitting at my city-based desk, wearing a pencil skirt, hadn't seen my boy for 4 days, looking at another 14 hour stretch. 4 coffees into the day at 10am.I took a look around the room, and as nice and hard-working as the people I was spending all this time with were, they were not my amazing little boy. I had a looming hospital appointment and a general sense of missing out. So I stood up, told my boss I wanted out, and left that very same day.

And then...a few vague weeks of faffing around at home. I toyed with getting another job. Financially we are no where near stable enough (I say we, what I really mean is me) to be able to continue with no income for a very long length of time.So I set myself up as a freelance social media consultant (See my LinkedIn page here) and I started submitted articles to various online and offline publications.

Three myths about quitting your day job:

1. You will have loads of free time.

Your 'free' time will suddenly be filled with people wanting you to wait in for them for packages and mechanics. Your house will be messier because you are in it all the time, so more of your time will be taken up with cleaning. You will also discover more things that annoy you about your home. Just why *is* that cupboard such a mess? Better clean it now while I have the time.  You will take a hour long slot at a local radio station and it will suddenly take over your life. That might just be me.

2. You will get to see your friends more.

Your friends have jobs. That is why they are your friends, because you used to go to bars and festivals and fun stuff that you now can't imagine being able to afford. Unless you were the only person in your peer group with a job. Which I wasn't. Everyone I know has a job. I have, however, become an interesting novelty 'thing to do' for people who take a day off to go to the dentist and then have a free afternoon. These types of people can often be relied upon to buy lunch aswell. Win.

3. You will be happier

Things will annoy you just the same as they did before, but you will not have an outlet for them. One key thing about working is that you have to spend hours and hours around people that you wouldn't spend minutes with if you were not being paid, equally, they probably don't really want to spend time with you either. Now that you have quit your job, the only people you have to spend time with are yourself (see above) your laptop (thank god for facebook) and people who actually *want* to spend time with you. You go from being surrounded by chatty people all day, sharing gossip, reading the Metro, getting involved in things, to...talking to your cat about yesterdays headline in the Guardian. Because you can't afford today's. It's a lonely place to be.

Of course you can counteract these. You can refuse to wait in for peoples packages. You can find friends without jobs (note: hanging around the job centre is a great place for this!) You can volunteer somewhere worthy and again you will be surrounded by people you vaguely dislike. I think you get the gist. This is a warning. The grass is not always greener.

It's taken me 8 months to get to a position where I am starting, just starting, to get noticed for my freelance work. 8 months of being poor and lonely and slightly confused when I wake up at 3.20pm after a three hour nap.

But I wouldn't change it for the world. I was so wrong before, there is nothing better than my little boy rushing our to school to give me a big hug. Love him.

Also, do you like my blog makeover?


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Bounce Rate 101

 Bounce Rate is one of those Analytics stats that is easy to dismiss.  But it's an important one that, if you work on it, will lead to improved readership and more dedicated readers who return again and again.

Bounce rate is shown as a percentage in Google Analytics. It is shown in other ways in other analysis programs. Although I talk about Analytics here, the same information is relevant for whichever program you use to analyse your stats. If you are interested in how the rate is worked out, you can read the wikipedia page here.

It's basically a show of how many people came to the page and then left within a certain time (usually 30 mins) without exploring your site further. The average is around 50% for a regular, article bearing website or blog. Bear in mind that if your site is a one-stop-shop, like a dictionary, this will probably be higher because the visitor will find what they want on that one page they visited and not really need anything else from you!

As a blog owner, you want your articles to draw people in, but for them also to explore your other content, and find it relevant and interesting. You want a low bounce rate because you don't want people taking one look and fleeing because they don't find your blog interesting enough *sadface*

Here are three ways that you can improve your Bounce Rate.

1. Focus on just a few areas.

Chances are, if someone has come to your blog through a link to a DIY on Pinterest, they might quite possibly have an interest in other DIY's that you have written. If the rest of your blog is about collecting antique doorknobs, that traffic is likely to move on elsewhere. I have focused my blog on Social Media articles, craft DIY's and nail tutorials. I enjoy writing about these three areas and find it quite easy to think up posts relating to them. Focusing on just one thing would get a little boring, let's be honest. I like to rotate my topics over a week. However, I know that if people are coming in from pinned DIY's, like my Christmas Bauble DIY which brings in around 200 visitors a day, they will probably like some of my other DIY's and posts about crafty stuff. I hope they will stay and explore what else I have to offer along those lines.

2. Make other content easily accessible

It's all very well having the kind of content that people are coming to your blog for, but if they can't find it, it's utterly pointless. If you have a glance around my blog right now, you'll see there are at least 4 places that you can click through to other articles that might be of interest to you. At the top of my sidebar on the right you'll see a little section of four thumbnails. This is my four most popular (based on pageviews) articles. I haven't chosen them, I installed a blogger widget to chose the top four. Since they are the most popular, I assume they will be of interest to the most people. It kind of annoys me that two of the spaces are filled with Ombre French Manicure posts! And look, there is that Christmas Bauble DIY again! I actually put the widget there  there because I redirected my old blog where the tutorial was originally posted and I was worried people wouldn't be able to find it. I knew it would show up as it remains by far my most viewed post. I think it's contributing heavily to my current low bounce rate! Other ways that readers can find interesting content is my LinkWithin widget, see below the post where it suggests other articles you might like? Good idea huh? You can get your own for pretty much any blogging platform from here. Then I have a list of recent posts with my thumbnails (I talk about the importance of a relevant thumbnail image for your regular posts here). Plus I think I have a pretty easy navigation bar there at the top, find out how to make your own image map here. Of course, I also link previous posts a lot, which I hope draws readers deeper into my blog. Common sense right?

3.Target the right audience.

So now you have all your great content and you have it easily accessible from the very first page that traffic lands on. All you need is to get the right people over to your blog! This is a much bigger subject than I can cover in a few short paragraphs but here's a quick idea that I like to recommend to my brand awareness clients.

Dream up your ideal 'customer'. Start with the obvious demographic stuff, age, sex, background. Where do they shop? What kind of friends do they have? What websites do they visit daily? What are their hobbies? Build a complete picture of the type of person you imagine that you are aiming at. Do you know anyone like that, or who has many of their characteristics? Really go into detail once you have the basic picture. Who do they follow on twitter? What do they do on Friday night? What kind of boards do they have on Pinterest? How would you imagine they would stumble upon YOU?

It's important to remember that even though you have the idea of who your target market is, not many people are going to fulfil all of these characteristics. But it should give you a strong idea of the right places to look to find potential blog readers. Don't pigeonhole people! Even just one of your 'ideal' customers charastistics might be enough to make them a good match for your blog. The kind of information you can gather from this is:
  • Forums and blog rolls that might prove to be a good Return On Investment for you
  • Other areas that you might not have thought to focus on
  • People/companies to follow on twitter and Pinterest and engage with in the future
The other key point to this is that you can see whether you are being too specific. You want your potential audience to be as wide as possible. Think about how many people realistically you are aiming at. If you are writing only about motorcycle games for the Nintendo 64, your target demographic is people who have and still play a Nintendo 64, and who also like motorcycle games. I think that's quite a small market. If you want a big audience, you need to be appealing to a big audience.

Once the right people find your blog, they will be interested in what you have to offer. This will lead to a lower Bounce Rate. Stats are not everything, that's important to remember. But keeping people reading will ultimately increase the success of your blog and your online profile.

I love feedback on my articles! If you have found this interesting or useful, please do leave a comment or click the +1 for Google+. You can also add me on LinkedIn and I'm greatful for endorsements on there, as I use my profile to obtain freelance Social Media work :-)

Katy x

Monday, 14 January 2013

3 Favourite Easy Valentines DIY's

Good Morning!

I hope you are having a lovely start to the week. Thank you for your kind and sweet comments on my post on Friday about deal with negative comments when you put yourself out there. It's lovely when people are supportive :-)

I did this, above, at the weekend. I've used the only image I have of it as my thumbnail for this post. Maybe a confusing move. I'll get some proper pictures of it brightening up my bedroom to share! I have to admit I was a little lazy in taking my tree down, it didn't go down until the 11th. And then I felt sad because I was going to miss the fairy lights. So I drew a big heart on the wall above my bed and banged some nails into the outline about 10cm's apart, then I strung the lights around and inbetween the nails. It gives my bedroom a really beautiful glow :-)

(Please do take usual precautions with fairy lights if you try something similar. I always unplug the lights at bedtime)

This week I am mostly working on a post about how to analyse the success of (and what is) your Bounce Rate. It's going to be a very basic starter guide for people who don't know what it is or how to improve it. I hope you'll stayed tuned for that on Wednesday.

But today I would like to feature three of my very favourite Valentines DIY's. It's definitely about time to start getting hearty-crafty! I'd love to know what your favourite Valentine DIY's are. I don't think I have a Valentine this year, but I think that might be for the best 

All of these were found on Hello Cotton (follow me on there - I'll follow you back for sure!)

Is this not the funnest, most easiest amazing idea you have ever ever seen? There are so many possibilities for this, I am going out to find a wire wastepaper bin this very afternoon! Thank you to Maize Hutton for this adorable idea.

I absolutely love this DIY - so simple and cute, make your loved one a very special hot chocolate on the big day with this fun idea from Illi Style

Don't you think these would be a really fun gift for a friend this Valentines day? This cute DIY from Of Corgi's and Cocktails is one that caught my eye. I might even make these as a little treat for myself - especially as it's snowing here today. Brrr! Katherine also has some sweet outfit posts on her blog 

Let me know what your favourite Valentine's DIY is, or even if you are one of those types that likes to avoid the whole thing.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Best. Thing. Ever (and dealing with negativity)

How is 2013 working out for you so far? I am so absolutely thrilled with my new role in life that I can now not imagine life without it, and I feel like it's going to make 2013 my best year ever.

I've never had the courage to do anything like this before. I've spoken before about how it is incredibly hard to put yourself out there in the world, and how sometimes people will criticize before they even realise what they are saying. I've taken a small amount of criticism and some of it hasn't been that constructive.  Sometimes I have found that negative comments can swing around and around in my head for days, blackening my mood and draining my confidence. Even if I know the person hasn't meant for me to feel that way. Even if I know their critique is rooted more in their own issues than in mine.

The fact is, however I may come across, sending that email to sign up for the presenting role was really, really hard. Waiting for a response really sucked. Walking to the station on the first day was a terrifying gamble between taking a step forward and simply legging it and hiding in a bush for two hours. But I did it.

I hope that this year will be the year that I become someone who can take these leaps more easily. Someone who trusts their instincts and doesn't spend hours agonizing over even the smallest decision. Someone who can put themselves out there knowing that not every single person is going to like me, but that it really doesn't matter. I hope it will be the kind of year where really awesome stuff happens!

I truly hope it's that kind of year for you, too.

Katy x

Saturday, 5 January 2013

5 Tips For Promoting Your Blog On Social Media Sites

Promoting your blog used to be a simple case of posting the link on twitter, and maybe on Facebook too. Things have sure changed!

I like to follow a certain pattern, which I have developed over the last few months and has led to an increase in my page views of 150%. I would like to share this pattern with you today in the hope that utilising it, or something similar might be of use to you.

* Note: This may seem like much more work than you were originally putting into promoting your blog posts each time you made an entry. Fact is, it does take time and effort to get the word out there about your blog but the rewards are highly increased page views and post interaction! So worth it :-)

1. I've spoken before about getting twitterfeed to automatically post the link to your blog once you have written and published a new post. I would bet you an ice cream sundae that this is usually around the same times of day. That means that people who are following you from different time zones are probably not getting to see your link. You are missing out on these people, who have already expressed an interest in you, seeing your link and potentially visiting your blog!

Between 6 and 12 hours after you publish your blog post, tweet your link again. Maybe something like "Have you seen my post on taking photographs at night?" with a short link. You've just doubled the audience of your promotion :-)

I would strongly recommend against doing this more than twice, or too soon after your initial publishing/tweeting. It'll look spammy.

2. Pinterest is massively overlooked as a promotional tool. Have a look at my board here. For every article that I write for my blog, be it a nail tutorial or a social media advice post, I create a image with similar characteristics. The three things I usually make sure are cohesive are rounded corners, bold text and an instagram picture that belongs to me. I make the image in Picmonkey and then I use it at the top of the post.

Create a header image for each post with bold, informative text, signposting your article. Pin to Pinterest and repin at intervals you feel comfortable with.

When I've published the article or tutorial, I'll then go to Pinterest and add the image as a pin to the board. Simple right? Followers of that board often repin the image. It serves as a sort of flag for what the blog article is about, and quite often people will pin things they want to read later. Every repin is a huge truckload of extra exposure for me! I will even 'repin' the image myself after a few weeks, and then again a few months later. This means that all my articles are being seen by new people on a regular basis.

3. If you are not using LinkedIn to promote your business to like-minded individuals or potential customers, you are missing a trick. It's an engagement-heavy platform with the added bonus of being more credible that most social media sites. You do have to put time and effort into building up a following though.(I'll talk about how you can do that in my upcoming Brand Awareness E-Course) Regardless, even with under 100 connections, it's more than worth posting a link to your article on the site. All it takes for your article to be seen by potential hundreds of interested people is a few 'likes'.

The key to LinkedIn is mutual engagement. If you read and like articles that posts that other people are posting, tell them! They will be much more likely to do the same for you, and every comment, share or like on LinkedIn exposes you and your blog to all of that individuals connections too.

4. Next in the promotional round for me is Google+. I wrote here some beginners tips to using Google+ but I have an awful lot more to learn. If you don't have an account yet, do it right now. Set one up, add a photo and start looking for interesting and relevant people to follow. If you provide business consulting services, you'll want to find small local business owners. If you sell handmade jewellery worldwide, you will want to be adding people that fit into the demographic of your business. There's a real knack to finding the right type of people and you'll need to put significant effort in at the start, but the rewards are evident when your blog articles are shooting up the search pages. Your popularity and ability to engage people on Google+ is going to have a significant affect on your SEO in the future, as Google search pays more attention to what people are liking and sharing.

Share your blog article from the main page of Google+. Add a short description where you have space to, don't repeat the title of the post though, that's a waste of valuable SEO opportunity. Describe the post in a different way, keeping it short and sweet. Don't forget to thank everyone who +1's your post on there. I do this by name, shouting out each individual by putting a plus before their name (like with twitter's '@')

5. The final tip is common sense, but it's kind of worth saying because sometimes people miss this valuable step.

Tell people in real life about your blog!

I know it's hard. I know you may feel that people won't be interested. I know these things because I felt them too. But once you bite the bullet and just do it, you'll see that actually people can be extremely supportive of your writing. Obviously, if your blog is about a controversial topic, or particulally liberal or right-wing, then you may encounter some negativity, but in general, as long as your blog is inoffensive, I think you'll be surprised at the positive reception you get from sharing your blog in real life. Start by posting the link on facebook. I do away with the preamble and just title the post 'Blog.' I've had some lovely messages from people who I haven't spoken to in a while - definetely worth getting over the shyness :-)

You are probably exhausted just reading all of this but once you get into the swing of it, this method of non-spammy self-promotion really does work, and give you the bext chance of your posts being seen by others. Of course, keeping people reading, coming back for more and ultimately following you is a totally different story altogether.

Look out later in the week for my Beginners Guide to your Bounce Rate (how long people stay on your pages once you finally manage to get them there!)

Katy x

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year & A New Brand Awareness E-Course

Hi there, and welcome to 2013! I'm so happy it's finally here. A new start and a new beginning, just what the doctor ordered.

I'm going to be ramping up my writing over the next few months, submitting articles to websites and posting DIY's and tutorials over here on the blog. I'm also currently right now wording on a Beginners Guide To Brand Awareness. The guide will be packed full of tips on getting your name on the lips (or at the fingertips anyway) of people across the web. More info later in the week!

I've been offering consultative brand awareness advice on a freelance basis for over a year and have plenty of success stories to share with you. I hope you'll stay tuned to what this blog has to offer you as we hurtle off into the year :-)

I'm also back on the radio tomorrow. It's available worldwide, broadcasting from 10am - 12pm GMT. You can listen by going here: It's also availble for you to listen to if you have the Tune In app on your phone. It comes preinstalled in many smartphones, so have peek through your apps to see if it's there. It's also free to download from the app store or Android marketplace. Just type in Radio Dacorum and you'll here my voice into your earholes during my slot :-)

Katy x

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