Monday 01 April 2019

Top tips when writing website content

Close up of the nib of an old, well used fountain pen

If you are a small or micro business, creating a website can feel like an overwhelming task. There are lots of fantastic free website design software packages to help you create your site e.g. WordPress or Squarespace. We would recommend that you consider and plan your site structure carefully (and we would always recommend a clean and uncluttered site).

Once you have decided on the platform for your site, and the structure and pages that you would like to include, how do you write engaging content?  We have a few tips:

Put your most important information first

The ‘inverted pyramid’ is a journalist framework and is a great guide for website content writing too!  Make sure you put all your important points and main messaging first.  See it as a summary or synopsis of everything you are going to say on that page.  Expand on details as the reader scrolls down page.

Inverted pyramid divided into three horizontal sections reading as follows: Top- most important information, Middle - Supporting details, Bottom - General info

Make sure it’s easy to read

Well it seems like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how difficult this can be when businesses are enthused about their products or service!  We would always recommend a conversational-tone, overly formal and long sentences will not engage people enough to keep them on your site if they are on their mobile on the bus.  Use short paragraphs and white space around images.  Ensure that you do not have reams of text.  Importantly use headings and sub-headings. Avoid passive tense, jargon and repetition. If you do have to use an anacronym ensure that full wording is given early on the page.

It has to be original

Never ever just rehash content, even if you like the style or tone on another website, and even if their product or service is similar to yours.  It is fine to talk about the same product or service as another business but find your voice.

Use some keywords and phrases

Why are people coming to visit your site?  What sort of thing would they be asking in a search engine to find you?  Ensure that you thread some keywords and phrases that people use when internet searching so that they can find your site. Google Ads (previously Google Adwords) is a great tool to use to find out and compare words related to your product/service and their popularity.  Also, what sort of questions do people ask the internet?  AnswerThePublic is another great tool to see all the queries used by internet users around particular keywords.  This can really help you to answer the questions that people frequently ask.

A word of warning here, do not fall into the trap of ‘keyword or phrase stuffing’ on your pages.  This often ruins any flow or originality in your content.  2-3 keywords or 1 phrase per page is more than enough.

Include trust-building information

Testimonials, case studies, information about you and your service and products and your qualifications and experience in providing these are essential for new visitors to feel confident in contacting you or undertaking another action, such as making a purchase.

Make sure it is accurate and credible

Any data research or statistics that you quote or use as a source must be correct – be certain of the provenance of any information that you use on your site. If you do use external data, then it is important to reference it.

Update your content

Out of date content loses credibility. Always update your site and remove out of date information.

Last but not least, make sure your site provides value

We live in an over-saturated online environment.  Your content must have purpose and provide value to the reader. This could be in the form of entertainment or fun, or education e.g. providing information about what you do and why you do it or even help to solve a general problem. It could be that your content inspires your audience, or, offers something thought-provoking.  Consider the value and what you want to achieve with your content before you start writing it.

We would love to hear from you! Contact us: [email protected]

Monday 04 March 2019

Do I need a Social Media Calendar?

When you’re a small business, it can be easy to develop a bit of a love/hate relationship with social media. Love from the perspective it provides your customers with direct access to your brand and products, and, hate from the perspective that it’s constant – always on the day’s ‘to do’ list with varying pressure to ‘find something’ to post about.  The regular upkeep and creation of content can be a real struggle for small businesses and something our clients talk to us about regularly.  As discussed in ‘our five top tips for micro businesses when managing social media’ blog (below) we would highly recommend using a social media calendar as part of your overall social management.  It can take any form, excel spreadsheets are commonly used, but if it is a paper diary that’s your preference that can work too! It is a simple but effective tool to help you plan ahead.  Here’s just a few advantages to using a social media calendar;

ONE: It helps you to set a consistent posting schedule

Lots of small businesses fall into the trap of believing they must post on their social media accounts every day – or even multiple times a day! For the vast majority of businesses, this isn’t true. Defining a schedule of posting, whether its once, twice or five times per week, not only gives you a goal to work to, but the consistency demonstrates to your audience that you’re committed and invested in the channel – and to them that indicates they’ll get something out of following and engaging with it.

TWO: It helps you to get your content mix ‘right’

If you’re a business that makes and sells biscuits, putting up constant posts that are variants of ‘mmm, look at my biscuits, they’re delicious, come and buy some’ is going to get pretty ‘old’ and boring for your followers pretty quickly!

As discussed in our last blog a good guide is a ‘mix’ of content that is broadly 75/25.  And by that we mean 75% is content that educates, entertains, inspires, interests or helps your audience, and 25% is content that directly promotes/sells your products or services. Remember to colour code for posts in your calendar that relate to ‘75’ and those that are ‘25’ – you can then visually see very quickly if your content balance is about right. Creating entertaining content is so much easier if you allow yourself some time to think about it!

THREE: It helps you to automate your posts

Once you have your calendar filled in for the week/month, you can use scheduling tools to automate your posts. These might be the platform specific tools, such as Tweetdeck or Facebook scheduler, or you might prefer to use a tool that allows you to schedule all your accounts in one place, such as Hootsuite (free for up to three social media profiles).  

FOUR: It helps you to plan for important dates

Not only can you plan your content effectively to support any business activities such as open studios, fayres, sales that you are undertaking, but you can also consider raising your profile and joining in the conversation for social media ‘holidays’.

It will depend on what your business activity is as to whether it’s important for you to mark #VegetarianDay, #JustACard  or #LoveYourPetDay – but it’s important to remember there’s a host of national and international days that have (and continue to) evolve, ready and waiting for relevant businesses to engage with. Researching these in advance and popping them into a calendar will mean you never accidently miss them or come late to the #party.

To get you started, SproutSocial has a great summary PDF of some of the main #holidays by month.

Time to start creating your calendar!

The time investment in initially creating a calendar can pay back in dividends and is guaranteed to reduce stress levels when managing social media! Create whatever system suits you. Watch as it falls into place and adapt it to suit you and your changing business needs. When creating a basic template, whether digitally or on paper, we would recommend that you include the following:

  • The platform for the post (Facebook/Twitter etc)
  • The type of post (e.g. image / video / blog / text only)
  • The date and time you will post
  • The topic or theme of the post
  • The copy (actual text) you will use
  • The hashtags you will use
  • Details of any image you will use (if you store your images in a central folder, you might just want to use the image filename here, or you may wish to link to it)
  • If the post is to include a link – what is it?
  • Space for notes
  • We would also recommend that you leave space for you to capture the results or engagement with the post (e.g. likes/shares/reactions) for monitoring and evaluation – which will help you continue to develop popular content in the future.

Happy planning!

Should you have any queries, questions or wish to find out more, talk to us: [email protected]

Monday 11 February 2019

Our five top tips for micro businesses when managing social media.

Mobile phone lying on top of a computer keyboard. Phone has 'Social' written on the screen.

When you have a small business and time is of the essence, managing social media can be a daunting task.  Here are a few tips that we give to our clients:

ONE: Plan

Seems like an obvious tip, but we come across many micro businesses who do not create plans and try to run social media instinctively.  Create a social media calendar to plan and schedule your content.  This time investment of planning ahead frees up time to think creatively when compiling content to post; remember it is often quality not quantity that counts! Your social media communications should always support your overall business plan – if you haven’t already a created a plan for your business, set the time aside to do so, this is fundamental.

TWO: Choose your platform.

It is not necessary for your business to be available on the many social media platforms offered and tweeting and posting 24/7.   It is better to choose, for example, two platforms and execute these well.   Research your audience, and competitor products/services and see if you can find a ‘preferred’ platform e.g. if your product is very image based e.g. photography, Instagram maybe a good choice. Facebook is still by far the most used platform, and although it is showing a plateau in growth of use (whilst Instagram for example is seeing increased growth) it is often the best platform to start with.  Check out Avocado Social’s blog on this.

THREE: Build Relationships

Social Media is not a message board or a simple promotional tool for your products or service.  It is about networking with other business and consumers, having online conversations. It’s the difference between standing on a street corner and shouting at people through a megaphone, or inviting people to join you for a coffee, chat and starting a new long-lasting friendship. When planning your content ensure that around 75% of your content ‘informs’ ‘entertains’ and ‘educates’ your audience about your business and ensure that no more than 25% of your posts are purely promotional.  It is also important to respond to engagements on your social media platforms to build these relationships.

FOUR: Allocate time.

At Wild Feathers we often find our clients struggle with the time demands of social media.  Honestly, you don’t have to spend all day on social media! Using a good social media calendar allows you to plan and schedule content and any extra time could then be used to respond to engagements and focus on relationship building.  There are free and commercial social media management tools out there such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social, that allow you to schedule content on multiple platforms and offers analysis and management of engagement on your chosen platforms. 

FIVE: Monitor and Evaluate

Check out your insights or analytics– most platforms offer some analysis within the platform, and the social media management tools also can offer report and stats analysis.  Looking at social media metrics can be a real ‘rabbit-hole’ moment, do not get lost!  Decide what metrics you are going to use and record regularly, e.g. monthly.  Important to note that you will also come across the term ‘Vanity Statistics’. This is really when the only thing you are measuring is how many likes you have on a post or how many followers you have. Vanity Statistics do not give you a full picture of real customer engagement and interest. We would recommend an important metric is how many mentions and tags you have, i.e. how many people strike an online conversation with you?  Remember to adapt to your audience too, if they engage more with a particular piece,  plan for similar content in your social media calendar.

Find out more or talk to us: [email protected]