It’s exciting for my social media and blogging workshops to be back in North Beach in the lovely new Flowspace venue. (Extra handy for northern suburbs Perth people but not too far for anyone really – and it’s by the beach, great for summer!)
Coming up over November, I’ve got three workshops planned, and broadly speaking they’re about Pinterest, newsletters and Mailchimp, and getting your small business social media and blog ready for 2018. More details below, and email me any time with questions.
16 November 2017: Newsletter and mailing list strategy for your business or blog, with Mailchimp
I’m repeating this popular workshop because lots of people come to me asking for help with figuring out how to make the best newsletter they can – and how to get people onto their list in the first place. It can be such a valuable tool to use and we’ll work through it using Mailchimp, which is free if you have under 2,000 people on your list.
22 November 2017: Use Pinterest to drive visitors to your site
Pinterest is like a secret superpower that few people have yet worked out how to manage. We call it social media but really Pinterest is a visual search engine, and you can get thousands of new visits to your website with much less overall effort than true social media. I get about 90% of my social traffic to my travel blog from Pinterest and I’ll show you how I do it.
25 November 2017: Get your blog or business ready for 2018: Blogging and social media strategy and planning
Whether you’re a lapsed blogger or a small business/solopreneur/creative who needs to get a better handle on integrating blogging and social media into your life: this is the workshop to make sure 2018 is the year you do this effectively! We’ll look at what’s working now for blogging and social media and I’ll help you develop a personalised plan to do this fabulously in 2018.
I look forward to seeing you in one of my workshops this November! If you can’t make it at this time but want to register your interest, or have another topic you’d like to learn about, then email me and let me know.
One of my favourite business activities last year was running a face-to-face mastermind group for five utterly delightful women here in Perth. I’ve long been a fan of participating in mastermind groups, but this was the first time I ran one as a paid program and it was a huge success – and lots of fun for all of us, too!
The format of a mastermind group might vary, but basically, you need a group of people who meet up regularly (physically or online) to discuss their business, or an aspect of their business, and give each other advice and support. In the case of a paid mastermind like mine, I lead the group and don’t ask for advice or support for my own business – though I often refer to it as an example – and I also include training and consulting activities related to social media and blogging within the mastermind format.
If you work by yourself or in a small business, it can be lonely at times and it can be difficult to find people to talk to about various aspects of the work you’re doing. Masterminds give you connections and networking opportunities, and the chance to be in a room where people understand what the heck you’re talking about!
How do your Perth mastermind groups work?
The groups I facilitate have a maximum of five people, all of whom are either small business owners or creatives (writers, artists, etc) and have an online presence – usually a blog plus some social media platforms. We meet three times per school term (and not in school holidays) which works out at approximately every three weeks, for two hours at a time, at my home office in Duncraig in Perth’s northern suburbs.
At each meeting, I have an agenda which looks something like this:
Homework follow-up! – I find out how the participants have gone with the task/s they set as objectives at the previous mastermind session.
Training – I offer some training on a particular topic that the group has agreed they need or I think will be useful. This will always be somehow related to blogging and social media but can be varied depending on needs, for example: revising your site’s About page; optimising your LinkedIn profile; setting up an editorial calendar for Facebook; using scheduling tools; etc.
Question time – each participant has time to ask one question of me or the group, which might be for advice or feedback or might be a more technical question. Generally the discussion works out to be useful for everyone, not just the asker!
Goal setting – we revise our goals and our progress towards them (both across the whole year and from meeting to meeting) and I take note of the specific tasks the participants each want to achieve before our next meeting – this accountability is a really important aspect of mastermind groups.
Between meetings, we keep in touch in a private Facebook group where I’ll answer queries that arise and where participants can ask everyone for feedback.
Who should join a social media and blogging mastermind?
If you work on your own (especially in a creative industry) or run a small business, you will have a website, you should definitely have a blog as part of it (and if you don’t, talk to me!), and most likely you have some kind of social media presence, whether that’s just on Facebook or more broadly across platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. If that sounds like you, I’m sure this kind of mastermind would help out. It’s so hard to stay across all of that while you’re still trying to do the actual tasks of your work.
For many people, it’s the accountability of a mastermind group which is the most valuable part. If you follow happiness and habits researcher Gretchen Rubin you might have heard her categorisation of people into four tendencies – if you’re curious, try her quiz and find out which one you are – and if you are an Obliger (like me!) then you work way better with some external accountability, and a mastermind provides this beautifully.
My first 2016 mastermind group had a mix of mainly authors and artists and I asked them to complete this sentence for me:
For me, the most valuable part of being in a mastermind group is …
… the fluidity of ideas and inspiration from Amanda and other supportive people who have assisted me in developing my social media and blogging skills. I now feel confident in both. Being in a mastermind group grows you and it’s a lot of fun! (Linda Cull, author and artist)
… the accountability – and the ideas in areas I would never have thought of. Plus it’s such fun to meet with a group of people who really ‘get’ what you are trying to do, and who (gently) push you to try new things… I so appreciate Amanda and our group. (Clare Harris, author/publisher and ESL teacher)
… is the connection and meeting regularly with like minded people sharing ideas, generating new ideas, being accountable, and being supported and encouraged in a safe and inspiring environment. And having a laugh!! Amanda is a great mentor and facilitator. (Aggie Lim, sketch artist and blogger)
… the accountability as well as the support given by Amanda and the other members of the mastermind group. It has been such an encouraging and collaborative environment in which to ask questions and brainstorm ideas. (Melinda Tognini, author)
… that you get to hear ideas from other people that you wouldn’t have thought of by yourself. Two heads, or in this case, five heads, are better than one! (Louise Allan, author)
Heading over to the Gold Coast this month for the Problogger conference gave me the usual massive dose of new knowledge and vital inspiration. I’ve got more to talk about it in future posts but the single most important part was the keynote address from Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike. She pioneered the term multipotentialite and basically I love her for it!
What is a multipotentialite, I hear you ask?
The best introduction to Emilie’s theories is this TED talk – do spend a very useful 12 minutes watching it, because I’m fairly certain you won’t be disappointed.
Basically, a multipotentialite is a person following more than one different interest or passion. For many years I felt (as this was the advice given all over the place) that I needed to really pick a specific niche to work in, rather than being a blogger, freelance writer, social media trainer, blogging consultant, speaker, podcaster and … yep, all those different things.
In fact, my problems started way before that: back at school I loved both English and maths; my teachers all pushed me towards engineering or medicine and I was trying to fight back with my creative side and I ended up doing a very muddled Science degree with three minors (mathematics, social ecology and marketing).
I’ve followed Emilie’s work for a while, but it wasn’t until having her there right in front of me that I finally listened to what she had to say. It is actually OK for me to continue following multiple interests – maybe it’s even better than OK, it’s actually very beneficial both for me and my clients/readers/listeners.
Multipotentialites don’t usually quit when things get hard, they quit when things get too easy.
This sums me up completely, in a way that makes so much sense, but I’d never understood it properly before. It explained why until recently, the job I stayed in the longest was my part-time student job at KFC, and that my career path from then until I moved home from abroad, I needed to change jobs regularly to keep interested. I’d get a great new job, it’d be fascinating for a while, then I would have learnt most of what was interesting and new, and I’d be bored.
That’s why the work I do now is perfect for me. Working in blogging and social media means that the knowledge required to do my job is constantly changing. There are new platforms, new ways to use old platforms, all kinds of changing things which keeps me feeling like there is so much more to learn, a state I love to be in.
It also means I can combine both my travel blog with my social media and blogging work and combine all of that into speaking I do, and all of that cross-fertilisation is actually great! It’s not watering each of these things down – it’s making all of them better.
What does this mean for you?
I think a lot of my clients will identify with this whole multipotentialite thing. Many of you are working in creative industries, or doing creative work (writing, art, etc) on the side of other kinds of work, and enjoying all of it.
What Emilie’s keynote at Problogger reminded me of is that it’s important to embrace all sides of you and work with them – and this is extremely true in the social media area. If you’re running a Facebook business page, for example, then your followers will love you even more if they learn about you as a whole person, so you should feel free to expose them to all of these varied interests you have.
Are you a multipotentialite?
Does this ring any bells with you? Or are you someone with a very deep passion for one thing (something I’ve often wished for, to be honest, as I feel like it would make life easier)? Let me know in the comments.
So I have a more bite-sized suggestion this time round than my previous posts, and another kind of “gateway” into learning to enjoy Twitter that might work for some of you. And this is: have a look for some good #rocur accounts and interact with them.
Um … but what is a #rocur account?
Excellent question! You might have seen these accounts without realising what they were called (that was the case with me until recently). #rocur is short for rotated curation and they are Twitter accounts which get managed by a different person every week. They’re really interactive and great to get involved with.
For example, earlier this month I managed the @WeAreAustralia Twitter account for a week. This account, so to speak, “represents” typical Australians, and different people run it each week to ask and answer questions to people around the world, getting to know other Twitter users and being a bit of a spokesperson for Australia for a short time.
It was enormous fun to “be Australia” for the week. Before my week started I wrote a list of all the many (and varied) things I wanted to talk about, from social media to Iceland to autism to books – all kinds of stuff that piques my interest. And I managed to talk about all of it, and meet all kinds of interesting people both in Australia and across the world who I’ve now continued the conversations with back at my own Twitter profile.
And so what should I do about a #rocur account??
I’m not suggesting, necessarily, you go off and volunteer to be a #rocur Twitter person for a week, but what I am suggesting is that you go and follow some interesting #rocur accounts and interact with them. These people are there very specifically to talk to others so it’s such a great way to get into the habit of interacting on Twitter, not just posting your own tweets “to nowhere” – because interaction is the most fabulous part of Twitter, and how it helps you to build relationships with all kinds of interesting and, let’s face it, useful people!
So my challenge to you is: look up a few #rocur accounts that intrigue you and get involved in the conversation. It’s one of the best entry-ways into getting used to interacting on Twitter and you might find that once you start, you can’t stop. But I’m not responsible for that!!
Calling all Perth people: ready to learn some new stuff?? I’m ready to teach it! The new program of social media and blogging workshops for the rest of 2016 is now here. If you took part in my annual survey by email you’ll notice a bunch of the workshops you wanted to see are included below, hopefully ready to solve some of the problems you’ve been having with promoting your blog or business on social media, as well as just simply getting your blog up and running regularly.
For now the workshops are still taking place north of the river in Perth (at the Beach Boardroom in North Beach), but if you are south of the river and keen to attend workshops down there, do email me and let me know – if there’s enough interest I’ll set up a venue down there too.
All details are below: just click on the date/time links to get all the details and book tickets. Most of the workshops are two hours long and tickets are $45 + GST; the long-requested Pinterest workshop is three hours for $75 + GST (I know a bunch of you will be glad about finally getting Pinterest happening!). So without further ado, here they are:
Optimising your blog content: Make your blog posts pretty much perfect
Content is king, right – so let’s figure out how to make your blog posts pretty much perfect. You will leave this workshop with a ready-to-go content plan and editorial calendar for your blog and a whole host of ways to make your blog posts better than the rest in terms of SEO, readability and scannability and unique blogging voice.
We will cover:
Creating a content plan for your blog and how to develop (and stick to) an editorial calendar
Including SEO research to ensure the quality and searchability of your blog post – good Search Engine Optimisation means more traffic
Refining your blogging “voice” and writing with your readers in mind
Ensuring each blog post you publish is scannable, useful and shareable
Optimising the images you use in your blog posts so they work for blog readers and social media users of all kinds
Getting Facebook to work for you and your business or blog
You might hear lots of people complain about how Facebook is always changing and it’s hard to reach your customers or readers. But flip that around: Faceobok is a massive database of people the world over, and a way to reach your people both for free and with really cost-effective advertising, and it’s worth using, and using well.
You’ll leave this workshop with a new appreciation for the power of Facebook, a concrete plan to make your Facebook posting efficient, understanding how Facebook groups work, too, and with a new understanding of Facebook advertising beyond hitting “boost post”.
We will cover:
Assessing what your target audience is doing on Facebook
Optimising your Facebook page by building a chatty, sharing community
Using an editorial calendar to batch and schedule your Facebook content for maximum efficiency
Looking at Facebook groups and whether establishing or participating in Facebook groups can help you out
A beginner’s guide to Facebook advertising with the Ads Manager and the Power Editor, using custom audiences and other sneaky and powerful stuff.
Newsletter and mailing list strategy for your business or blog
Did you know I once had to stop sending my Mailchimp newsletter out so frequently because it was generating too much business?
You will leave this workshop with a well-planned strategy for getting more people onto your mailing list, figuring out what to send them and knowing how to turn them into customers, clients or regular readers – whichever your goal.
We will cover:
Encouraging people to sign up to your newsletter mailing list, with a plan for creating opt-in bonus content as well as knowing where else to add sign up forms
Developing a content plan so that creating your newsletters is quick and easy
Planning a strategy to convert mailing list subscribers to people who pay for your products or services, or are regular blog readers and advocates
I will use MailChimp to demonstrate but the principles can be applied to any mailing list platform, and we’ll briefly cover the pros and cons of some of the other main platforms.
Using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog or website
Pinterest sends an astonishing amount of traffic to my blog – and I want it to do the same for you, too. The beauty of Pinterest is that unlike other social media, Pinterest doesn’t rely on being social and is more like a visual search engine. You’ll leave this workshop with a real plan in place to use Pinterest to its full effect and gain a whole new bunch of visitors to your site.
We will cover:
How to optimise your Pinterest profile and get “rich pins” for your site
What Pinterest boards you should use
How to create images for your posts that will get the most attention on Pinterest
Developing an efficient pinning strategy to encourage the most repins and drive traffic to your site
The option of using scheduling tools like Tailwind to make Pinterest quick and easy for you
If you don’t yet have a Pinterest profile, choose a Business profile if you want to set one up before the workshop.
Back when I was a school girl (and I’m thinking particularly of Year 12 maths with Mrs Deeks), I got in trouble quite often for talking too much. (This won’t come as a particular surprise to anyone who’s met me, I suspect.)
These days, I get paid to talk! Oh, the irony. The strange part is I usually get paid to talk about stuff that was way off being invented back when I was at school, which in part makes me feel really old, and in part reminds me that blogging and social media are a most amazing invention which have changed so much about my world in a very, very short space of time. And that’s one of the main reasons why people want to hear me talk about them so often.
My blogging and social media talks at libraries in Perth
Over the last four or five years, I have been lucky enough to be asked to speak at a dozen or so libraries across Perth. It’s a job I always enjoy, because libraries tend to attract people who are my kind of people – but they just don’t know that much about blogging or social media yet, and they want to.
The topics I’ve been asked to talk about are pretty wide-ranging (and have dipped into my interests in travel and fiction writing too, which is perfect for me), and a few of these have been:
Testimonials from my talks at Perth public libraries
Warning – a little piece of blowing-my-own-trumpet coming up here, mostly because I really want to collate all this lovely feedback in one spot. I think because I love doing these kind of talks they always turn out to be enjoyable for both me and the attendees and so people tell me warm fuzzy things like the following.
You were fab, approachable, laid-back, easy to talk to and of course really know your stuff. (Ripeka Hitaua, A/Library Program Supervisor, City of Gosnells)
Thank you for sharing your knowledge on social media, we are still receiving fantastic feedback from those who attended! (Hoi Ng, formerly E-Services Librarian, Town of Victoria Park Library)
Loved the interaction with the presenter.
Simple, short and interesting, informative overview which covered important key questions about blogging. (Participants at City of Gosnells talk)
Very good overview for an audience with varying skills!
Well presented and informative.
Excellent presentation. (Shire of Kalamunda talk)
If you’re from a Perth library and you’d like to book me for a talk, please feel free to email me – I’d love to help you out!
Starting to, I emphasise. And all I really mean by this is that if someone asks me what I do and I mention blogging, most of the time they have a vague idea of what I mean. (Which is a vast improvement on the bewildered looks I’d get a few years ago.)
But most of the time the world is thinking of personal bloggers, journal-style blogs, maybe a travel or fashion blog they like to follow. The world hasn’t yet really begun to understand business blogging.
So what does it mean to blog for a business?
I’m glad you asked! There are heaps of benefits to setting up a blog as part of your small (or large) business’s website. To name but a few:
Search engines will find more reasons (more keywords!) to send people to your website
Your blog posts can help educate, inform and inspire your existing clients or customers
Your existing followers might want to share your blog posts with friends and family
You can use your blog posts for regular content on Facebook or any other social media platform
And it might even be a whole lot of fun!
But it’s all very well to give you a few bullet points and say go and blog – it’s probably more useful to give you some examples. The following two blogs are utterly different from each other, but they have both been clients of mine who I’ve helped get started on the blogging road.
Commercial interior design blog – with a real character!
The lovely Jenny at Bellfort Commercial Interior Design came to me having already figured out that a blog would be a good thing for their business (for most of those bullet points above, and particularly to help search engines find them above their competitors).
Like many businesses with a few employees (or more), it’s harder to be “personal” when you blog, because who is this person? In Bellfort’s case, Jenny had the cool idea of having a character write the blog, a funny fellow named Baxter! (That’s him over on the left.)
He’s got his own special personality but he’s also very knowledgeable about commercial interior design, and he lends a bit of fun to the more serious topics, too.
Not every blog post is written by Baxter – there are monthly more generic “Latest News” blog posts, but they still have a friendly, casual tone; Bellfort also publishes regular Case Study posts of some of the jobs they’ve completed. Combined with some sensible keyword research, their blog is helping drive more traffic to their site and that turns into more work. You can have a look at the Bellfort blog yourself to see how Jenny manages it.
Private school blog – from the pen of a principal
The communications team at a local private school contacted me to get some blogging advice as well. They already had the idea in mind – to publish a monthly blog post from the principal (with some help from the communications team) with the aim of being an additional communication route to exisiting families, something that potential future families could look at too, and more ways for people to find their website, all at the same time (and the beauty of a business blog is it can do all of this and more!).
What I particularly like about this school blog (have a read of it here) is that it combines all my advice really nicely: it’s personalised, with some true-life stories from the principal’s own experiences, but it also has high quality, useful content for people to read, it has some sensible keywords to help the posts be found, and it has some great images and visuals to help make it readable, too.
Could your business have a blog?
I honestly think *any* business can have a blog – but obviously, some are easier to make into successful blogs than others. A great example is another client’s blog about school fundraising ideas – it’s the kind of thing that people really want to google and then get information from you. You have to think about a few factors, like:
Who your target readers are, and what they really want to read about that’s relevant to your business
How to make it interesting – sometimes to people who don’t know much about your area (for example, if my accountant had a blog, I wouldn’t want to read in-depth accounting-related posts)
What keywords or keyword phrases to target when writing each post – doing some research to figure out what search terms people use for problems your business can solve
How you can include some personalisation or stories or something that makes the blog something only you and your business can write – not just facts and figures that anybody could write about
Where you could source good images and visuals, because a blog can’t be just words these days
But in the end, there’s an angle for every business. If you look around and see that other businesses in your niche don’t have a blog yet, then that’s all the more reason to hurry up and start. Since the world is still pretty ignorant about business blogs, you can easily get a great first-mover advantage, so get blogging!
Working for yourself has lots of positive sides, and my friend Aggie Lim and I have long joked about our “beach office”. I got to thinking about this – the benefits of being able to be outside for part of our day, not chained to our desk, experiencing the inspiration of nature, and having the freedom to decide how to set up our working day – along with the wonderful benefits of spending time with like-minded people – and decided that setting up some Walking Mastermind walks might just be something that could work out.
What happens on a Walking Mastermind with Amanda?
We will meet at the specified time and place (which will vary) and split into groups of around three or four people (although we’ll all walk together, so this can be a bit fluid, as well!).
At each walk I’ll supply a small card with three questions on. After you’ve got to know your fellow walkers, the idea is you can discuss the three questions together, to hopefully learn some new ideas and share some of your own successes, too.
After the walk, I’ll email everyone who attended with some of the best ideas we heard, plus some resources and links to help you out.
The questions will be related to:
productivity – working for yourself, motivation, systems, organising and planning
blogging – how, why, what about, how to get readers, and more
social media – various platforms, tips and tricks, making time, getting motivated
small business/self-promotion – new ideas, networking, strategy
and other topics that arise within the groups that seem relevant!
Who are these Walking Mastermind walks suitable for?
A lot of the participants will be people who’ve met me through workshops and consulting sessions in the past, but we welcome anyone, especially:
Bloggers or anyone who uses a blog as part of their website
Small business owners who have some kind of online presence
Anyone using social media to promote their work
Writers/artists/creatives who need to promote their work online
And anyone else who wants to chat more about blogging, social media, business and more
(You can always email me if you want to check with me first.)
How can I join a Walking Mastermind?
Each walk has a fee of $10. This covers my time for organising and following-up, but also has the purpose of helping you commit to be there – it’s all too easy to let other tasks get in the way.
The currently available locations and times will always be published on the Walking Masterminds page, with links for booking via Eventbrite.
At the moment, nearly all locations will be north of the river but this might change in the future.
SEO has always been something I’ve, well, kind of ignored.
(If you’ve ignored it so much you don’t know what it means: Search Engine Optimisation. In other words: how to publish blog posts that Google will send lots of search traffic to!)
Deciding to think more about SEO and researching keywords
Over the years, I’ve heard that the way to rank well in searches is more and more linked to quality content and less and less linked to gaming the system, so I’ve told myself I can afford to more-or-less ignore SEO and researching keywords. In the past, it has struck me as kind of boring.
BUT of course, there are sensible times when it pays to give it a bit more attention. I saw Sharon Gourlay’s talk on SEO at the recent TBEX conference in Bangkok (Sharon blogs about this kind of stuff at Digital Nomad Wannabe) and decided that I really should have a look at it for some of my posts.
Researching keywords to get traffic to make money!
Sharon’s talk was very much focused on using good SEO for posts that were trying to drive traffic to affiliate links (links to stuff people might buy, and the blogger can get a commission from). I have a few posts on my travel blog which (while providing great information and a good service to my community) are also focused on getting affiliate income, so I sat up and listened.
Because we are (trying to) raise our son bilingually, I have a series of posts on German books for babies, German books for toddlers, German books for preschoolers … you can see how this series can continue! These posts have a lot of affiliate links through to Amazon and over the past few months the income they generate, although small, has begun to steadily increase. Sharon’s talk made me think about how much more this could increase if I was just a bit more deliberate about getting targeted traffic to these posts.
So I’m going to experiment a little and let you watch. If it works well, then you can try it too!
Tweaking keyword use on existing posts
So, this is the first part of my SEO-fiddling! The reason I wrote these posts on German books for kids in the first place is that I had trouble finding good information online for non-native speakers like me, and had some real hit and miss experiences with buying books from the German Amazon site. I guess because they are filling a need (I’m definitely not the only non-German married to a German who wants to buy German books for their kids to read), then the posts have already been getting me a lot of search traffic for the main search terms I had in mind (which is basically the titles from above – “German books for babies” etc – as this is exactly what I searched for to find the information.)
I already knew this from looking at Google Analytics and see which search terms people used to find my site, including:
German baby books
baby books in German
German baby stories
German books for very young children
German toddler books
But after this SEO talk I had a look at where my posts where actually ranking in Google. The easy way to start this, of course, is just to go to Google:
So even this simple search taught me a lot. My “German books for babies” post ranked number one for that term, and it also ranked in the top ten for “German books for preschoolers”. But my German books for preschoolers post (or my toddlers one, for that matter) didn’t rank at all, yet. When I cross-referenced that nugget of info against what was actually being bought at Amazon, I realised that it was all the baby books, too.
All this made me quite optimistic, because (1) if my German books for babies post could rank so highly, the others probably could too with a bit of help and time and (2) if they did, and I could get triple or more the traffic, then perhaps I could triple the income coming in too. It’s not heaps, but triple of a bit is a bit more, and it all adds up over time.
Off to work: tweaking my SEO
One thing Sharon had said which made a lot of sense was that using more than just one keyword – in fact more like twenty – would help you get more search traffic. I guess that’s especially true these days when more people are using longer (more natural) search terms.
I soon got to work. I used LongTail Pro to generate more keywords but I think you could use Google’s Keyword Planner just as effectively. After disregarding any search terms it generated which weren’t grammatical or couldn’t be worked naturally into the text, I edited my old posts to include more of these keywords. I don’t want the posts to sound unnatural in any way, but since they are largely informational (lots of lists of books) with just short anecdotes (about my son and his books) joining it all together, I found it relatively easy to use quite a few more keyword phrases.
I also plan to follow the advice I often give my students and create a “hub” post around German books for kids (and I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier), as the obvious “first” page to land on so that parents looking for German books for their children can easily see all the information at once before getting specific.
Testing out my keyword changes
And once all this is done, I need to wait a bit. (The patience part is not my favourite bit, but I’m told this is necessary – Google won’t notice what I do instantly!)
The image below is the current ranking (in the United States, since the majority of my traffic comes from there and it’s a bigger market) for my site for various search terms. I’ll come back to this in a few months and compare it again – let’s see if these SEO tweaks have helped out!
Gobbledygook? Or making sense?
What do you know about SEO?
In my blogging courses, I usually teach students to do at least a bit of reverse-engineering – thinking about what search terms readers might type into Google if what they are looking for is answered by your blog post. It’s sometimes hard to think this way, but it is definitely worth it – you want people to find your posts, right?
Got SEO questions? I absolutely do not promise I can answer them … but I can try! Leave them in the comments or email me.
One of the most fun places for me online is my travel blog’s Facebook page. It works just how I want it to and I get to chat with a gorgeous range of fellow travel-lovers there.
I know a lot of my clients complain about Facebook and the way they keep making it “harder” to play … but I think that building your Facebook community (without being a try-hard) can be one of the most rewarding parts of your business or your blog. I regularly reach more than half of my Facebook likers and quite often my posts are seen by substantially more people than the number that like my page. Beyond the numbers, I also feel that it’s a real community of people who are getting to know each other. I thought I’d share some tips to see if I could help you love your Facebook page even more.
Think of Facebook as a friendly place to catch up
The first part of feeling good about building your Facebook community is to take a good look at what Facebook is really all about. More people use it than any other social media and the reason is that they want to know what their friends are doing.
That, of course, creates a challenge for business pages. People are not really in the mindset to think about a business or a blog they follow when they log in to Facebook – they want to see their friends’ kids and some funny memes.
But as a business page you can use this to your advantage. Be like a friend! On my travel blog page I use a super-friendly tone, I share photos and posts with a message that makes it sound like I’m sitting next to you showing it to you, and I make sure I let my followers know that I know what they like and what kind of people they are. Sometimes I even address them by name!
The corollary of this, of course, is to make sure there’s something personal about what you post. Depending on what kind of business page you run, this can be more or less difficult, but think about how you can make it work for you. I have a strict boundary on what I share and what I don’t from my own life, but for example, I’m not bothered by showing my son’s photo (just not his name), and mentioning him in any non-embarrassing way. And note: cute kids with teddy bears is a good posting strategy!
Know your Facebook followers and remember what they’re like
So if Facebook is a friendly place to catch up, you want this catching up thing to go two ways. It’s true that I sometimes will include the names of my Facebook followers in a post – for example, recently I wanted to know if other travellers had come across (annoying) flies in Iceland, so I named a couple of Facebook fans in the post who I knew had been to Iceland and were likely to know. You see the value there? – I remembered something about them (from their comments in the past) and made them feel special (but genuinely – because I really thought they would have an answer).
You’ll see some pages asking super-directly to find out about their followers (I saw one yesterday asking people to post the suburb they live in!) but I prefer to do it more naturally, and see what arises out of the topics we talk about. I don’t have a scary database or anything, I just have this info in my memory from past discussions and comments, but I do tap into it and really think about what kind of people my audience are and create my Facebook posts with them at the top of my mind.
Ask questions, but not just for the sake of it
The typical Facebook advice to get good engagement with your community is to ask your audience questions (preferable easy ones with short answers). You know the kind you see when you kind of inwardly groan because it’s really clear the page owner is just trying to get high engagement?
Don’t do that – but do ask questions when they seem appropriate, and don’t be afraid of asking complex questions. In my experience, people love to give their opinion when they can tell that it’s valued (related: try to reply to every comment you get).
If your community is used to being interactive (because you’ve asked engaging, interesting questions and kept the conversation going – and perhaps referred back to it in future posts) then they will become talkative without the need for a direct question.
Vary your posts, but not just for the sake of it
The Facebook algorithm seems to work better if you mix up your posts – sometimes photos, sometimes links, sometimes just text, sometimes a photo album, sometimes a share from another Facebook page.
I see some Facebook pages taking this advice to the extreme. Depending on your niche, it might be that link updates don’t seem too natural, or you don’t have many images to share. Figure out what your Facebook audience likes the most and stick to perhaps three kinds of posts most of the time. And then throw in something different just to see if they’ve changed!
Share links, but not just for the sake of it
(Starting to see a pattern yet?!)
Some Facebook pages I follow churn out a lot of content but most of it is links (both to their own posts and to posts from others) without much thought given to why their followers would want to read it. This is one of the most important moments when you need to know a lot about your followers and figure out what links they would find interesting, and what kind of introduction to the link might be needed.
And don’t let all this take up hours of your time
The next most common complaint from my clients about Facebook is that it takes up too much time. It really doesn’t have to. You just have to get a bit systematic and organised about it.
I use a regular schedule to plan my Facebook posts – it varies over time but for example, it might be to post a photo at 9.00am, a link at 1.00pm, a share at 7.00pm and a link to my own content at 8.00pm. I use a simple grid for the week (sometimes for a fortnight at once) to check off what I’m up to when I sit down to write all these Facebook posts at once (remember batching your work? It works!).
Finding enough content to cover that schedule becomes easy when you know you need an image for every morning, a link for every afternoon – because in the course of your normal work you are no doubt coming across all this stuff, and you just need to remember it (bookmark it, file it in a special folder, whatever works for you) until the time you sit down to schedule out your comment.
To reply to comments, I nearly always use the Facebook Pages app on my phone, and do it on the run. At the moment I have notifications turned on so I know when I need to have a look; sometimes I turn these off and just check in a couple of times a day.
So go forth and build your Facebook page’s community!
I hope something here has sparked an idea for you to get your Facebook page’s community really buzzing. I’d love to hear how you go.